Implementing a new technology solution can be exciting but, overwhelming all at the same time. Any new enterprise or customer relationship management solution means positive change in your organization: new processes, new solutions, or even new roles. There is much to do to accomplish your end goal of a successful implementation of a new technology solution. Here are some of our sure-fire strategies to help stay in control of your project, while managing and communicating change.
Pace the change.
Although a new software application may offer a tremendous number of new features, modules and tools to implement, try to keep in mind the impact of this change and how much your organization can successfully absorb. We have seen success in our projects by matching scope to a realistic change pace for your organization, creating a phased approach to your implementation. Once the first success has taken place, you can then move forward to the next project and apply what you have learned from the first phase. It will require the discipline to keep the scope in check for each phase but you’ll gain dividends from a smooth and successful project.
Communicate what is happening.
End users impacted by the new solutions are often concerned about how this new solution will impact them. We recommend to over-communicate to your end-users and staff. Here are some simple communication strategies to consider:
1. Initial communication could outline:
- Show executive buy-in and support in your communication by messaging your initial communication from an executive or stakeholder.
- Vision/Goals: Clearly articulate what the vision for the new system is.
- Benefits: Share what you believe will be the organization’s solution benefits.
- What Change to Expect: Highlight what to expect and provide an explanation of why this change will benefit the employee or the organization.
- Acknowledgement: Thank the team for all their efforts so far and let the rest of the company know that they will still be very busy completing preparations for the cutover.
- What’s next: Provide future visibility into what will happen next (i.e. when to expect training and where to find more information).
2. Mid project – update your team on your project’s progress and continue to reinforce the executive leadership and buy-in. Focus on details like what’s next for the team.
3. Just before going ‘live’ - a follow up message form the executive sponsor providing an update. Basically this message serves to remind everyone that this is coming.
4. Immediately after go-live - Go Live confirmation – send out a congratulatory email to the company letting everyone know that the migration was successful. Acknowledge the team and their efforts. Let people know what to expect next in the next phases.
Understand your impact.
Be mindful of how much impact the solution will have on your team. Implementation team members will be investing their heart and soul into the solution and therefore need to know they are supported and their efforts are valued. End users may be concerned about what will be changing in their jobs or if their job will be impacted. Stay sensitive to any concerns and address them openly and directly. This will go a long way in building credibility and will set the tone for the mindset that the users will have when they first start using the system.
You can also insert some fun into your implementation and communication by having a project naming contest or tracking certain milestones and giving prizes to end users for things like:
- first registrants for training;
- the most enthusiastic adopters; or
- the most (positively) humorous name for the project.
For further information on change management, I have read a recent book that I found very helpful. I found Switch (www.heathbrothers.com/switch) highly insightful about change management.
Submitted by James Faw, VP Product Innovations and Founding Partner