Tips for managing change successfully

Organisations must adapt to the changing state of the global business world or risk failure. We can’t stress the importance of needing to continually reevaluate your business model and confirm that the as-is still works. We’ve talked about gap analysis before. This process gives you the answers as to why your business processes aren’t performing to the maximum potential. The results of the gap analysis will help you to plan precisely WHAT it is you need to do to re-align your organisation. The problem of change management comes after this when you are planning HOW you are going to achieve what you need to.

The major problem with change is that people don’t want it. Old habits die hard. If someone has been doing something a certain way for a long time, they won’t like being told to do it differently. According to Technology Evaluation Centers, ‘nearly 50% of ERP implementations fail the first time around’. There are many reasons for project failure. If you’ve done your research, then you will know that many associate the failure with people’s resistance to accept and implement change. Ultimately this dramatically reduces the chance of success. Your job is to manage any change effectively with your employees, as in this predicament, they are your bottom line.

Don’t be aggressive with your timescale

Everyone involved in the project (usually encompassing either a whole team or all members of staff) still has a job to do which they will want to perform well. Adapting to changes in management, processes, procedures or software can take time to get used to. Having a set or limited amount of time to give to a change management project could derail it entirely. Often if you try to rush things, you will end up cutting corners. Making shortcuts will catch up with later down the line. Get it right first time, allow yourself and your team the time to accept and adjust to the changes.

Communicate enterprise-wide

Make sure everyone knows what is due to happen and the reasons why. Be as transparent as possible, so people don’t feel you are hiding things from them. People need to know the reasons for change first to at least start to accept them.

We easily forget the enormous impact an ERP implementation can have on individuals within a business. Day-to-day tasks change in an instant; in some cases, an employee’s job role may change entirely in line with the requirements of the new system.

There are several methods in letting your employees know of looming change. Arguably one of the most effective ways is two-way communication. In this case, let your employees know about the changes and then allow them to communicate their thoughts back to you. You will then have the opportunity to respond to their reservations. Use internal marketing to your advantage, whether this is through your intranet, emails, posters, flyers, meetings, workshops, questionnaires etc. It’s not all doom and gloom as you may have heard, you have the chance to make it an enjoyable and pivotal experience for all, so take it!

Elect the right team to lead

A small business will most likely have all employees involved.  However, if you head up a large company, you’re going to have to choose representatives from each area around the business to drive the project. Whichever applies to you, your stakeholders are crucial to the success of the project. Don’t be fooled; an ERP implementation does not sit with IT. This is a myth.

Change management projects are known for exceeding timescales. Even if this doesn’t happen, these projects are often long-winded, and that’s without any added hiccups. We would advise you to assess the structure and dynamics of your project team continually. It’s likely that at some point, tensions will run high. To avoid employee disagreements affecting the group or project, ensure you keep a check-in with individuals and if something does arise, then manage it. Managing a conflict does have its advantages. Open-air discussions, or debates as they are more commonly known, can lift the lid on innovation and creativity, they encourage people to look at things from a different perspective or someone else’s point of view. A difference in opinion is excellent on an ERP project if appropriately managed.

Keep up momentum

Generating and sustaining momentum is vital to surviving a change initiative. Creating the energy comes at the start of a new project when you or the change leader must ensure there are enough resources and support available for the entirety of the project. Sustain momentum once the project has kicked off.  Reiterate the reasons for the change, don’t forget them – make sure everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.

Momentum is not an easy thing to keep up; trust me. The novelty will soon wear off with some of your team. However, that’s ok, and not everybody will remain as enthusiastic as you. Some things you can refer back to from time to time:

  • Learn from experience. Continually define and reshape your approach to tasks. If something hasn’t worked, then try it a different way next time around.
  • Nothing and nobody is perfect. There are going to be speed bumps to slow you down along the way. You must learn to embrace and use them to your advantage. You wouldn’t have a story to tell if everything went to plan!
  • Celebrate success and milestones on the way to the final goal. Especially focus on early wins to keep your workforce engaged with the project.

The road to change management success

Change usually brings negative feelings of uncertainty. People are unable to communicate as effectively when emotions are involved. Here is where, arguably, the most valuable tip comes into the mix – training. Provide training for your staff and arm them with the theory behind what you are implementing. Ensuring your employees are confident with using the new software should overtake any feelings of doubt, so long as adequate training is given. Appropriate training throughout the process will increase the rate of change management success.

Change happens when a plan is followed through thoroughly; however, to be a success, the plan would have to adapt to all eventualities. If you follow the tips we have provided and remain tolerant to change yourself, you can expect a successful journey.