Businesses invest in technology to improve the efficiency of existing business functions, empower innovation, and enhance productivity. Accomplishing these goals isn’t only about the technology, though. It also requires a change in work processes and, ultimately, in people’s behaviors. For this reason, implementing a new technology is as much of a change management project as it is an IT project.
Technology implementations and project management approaches often overlook this less tangible aspect of the initiative, although it’s critical to its success. Just as the tasks involved to implement technology take time and effort, so does change. It also requires organizational alignment, employee training, and support resources. Without these crucial, albeit less concrete elements, the technology will fail to be adopted and used across the organization.
If you don’t believe that to be the case, check out these statistics:
- The United States economy loses $50-$150 billion per year due to failed IT projects. (Gallup)
In 2013, fewer than a third of all projects were successfully completed on time and on budget. (Standish Group)
- The average large IT project runs 45% over budget, 7% over time, and delivers 56% less value than expected. (Project Management Institute)
- In contrast, high-performing organizations successfully complete 89% of projects, while low performers only complete 36% successfully. (Project Management Institute)
You can be one of the 89%, and we’re here to help you do that. Let’s explore five elements of change and project management we’ve found to be critical success factors from working with our customers.
Ensure Early Awareness
No one likes to have surprises sprung on them, especially in a business setting. People will hesitate to take on a new process, so the earlier you can start to drive awareness of the impending change(s), the better. Behavioral change is a progression; people don’t change until they have had time to think it through and are prepared to take action.
While you might not need to involve all of your end users in the early awareness stage, you should share the coming technology project with the business leaders who are responsible for the strategic and operational processes within the organization.
Include Stakeholders on the Core Team
Stakeholders should be identified from multiple levels in the organization and included on the core project team. Doing so has a number of benefits, one of them being a cross-functional committee that understands and is committed to the business value of the initiative. Look for people on the front line who lead without the “leader” designation. These employees have insights on the ground level. They understand, perhaps in a way you can’t, what end users need and how they will be impacted by a change in processes and tools.
With these stakeholders identified, include them and the executive committee in designing the solution. This helps in a couple of ways:
- You gain buy-in for the technology initiative at all levels of the organization.
- Everyone involved in the project can clearly articulate the reasons for it; the positive effects on end users; and the impact on the bottom and top lines.
- You can leverage stakeholders as change agents and role models.
Identify Change Champions
Most of your stakeholders can act as change champions, but only if you give them permission and the ability to do so. You should use them in that function. Change champions, or agents, act as evangelists and role models for their peers.
As such, they can help lower employee resistance and give employees an example to aspire to. If frontline workers hear and see their team “leader” succeeding with the new technology, they’ll believe they can, too. Turning stakeholders into change agents also gives them greater ownership of the project’s outcomes, which will increase their motivation to make it a success.
Assign a “Change” Project Manager
In addition to creating change agents, you will want to assign a project manager who focuses on user adoption, training, and communication. They also help build a realistic roadmap that aligns with your strategic vision, ensuring milestones and objectives are met on time and on budget.
The project manager can fulfill other vital aspects of a change management project, too. While they may not be responsible for giving the actual training to end users, they do manage it and guarantee that it meets the specific needs of each impacted group. They also oversee communication, again making sure that the message is tailored to the end user. Finally, they manage resources, both in terms of identifying them and making them readily available to the people who need them. In this way they develop the talent and skills needed to make the technology investment a success.
Use Reporting Mechanisms
Transparent metrics, i.e., everyone in the organization is informed of them and can access them, are key to highlighting and driving awareness of corporate wide objectives and accomplishments. Formal and effective governance programs, reporting mechanisms, and incentives should be implemented, too. They not only keep people and processes headed toward the finish line but also can be used to drive operational excellence in the future.
Technology investments help you scale and stay competitive in the global marketplace. But to see those results you have to change your approach. Technology is only a tool. However, it’s a tool that affects processes and human behavior, which means any technology investment is a a change management project. Approach the technology in that manner, and you will see fewer delays, less cost overrun, higher return on investment, and ultimately, a delivery of the value promised when you set out on the journey.
Want to learn more about EyeSight and our approach to implementing it at your organization? Get in touch today.
Image: Ruth Hartnup (Creative Commons)