The business world has seen more than its fair share of change over the past 12 months. From new business models to revolutionary sales strategies to cutting-edge communication platforms, it certainly feels like change has been the only constant.
Take a good look at the people who’ve been working hard to keep your businesses humming along — from long-standing C-suite leaders to your youngest hires — and think about all the incredible hurdles they’ve cleared over the past year. It is safe to assume that they all realize the stakes are higher than ever before. To succeed and thrive in a post-Covid economy, businesses — and the people who make them what they are — need to embrace change with fearlessness, agility, and confidence.
However accustomed we are to change, embarking on selecting new systems and implementing new processes can be a challenge in an legacy environment characterized by manual workarounds and workflows that require high degree of intervention.
This is where a person-centered approach to change management comes in.
“Change management is the key to the entire selection and transformation process. If you’re not managing the change right, there will always be challenges that may impact the ROI.”
— Ashish Patel, managing director
What is change management?
Change management is the approach, process, and framework a company adopts when implementing internal or external changes. Traditional change management practices can be process-heavy, cumbersome, time-consuming, and result-centered rather than people-focused. When this happens, the odds of a successful change implementation become quite unlikely.
To make things even more complicated, the speed at which today’s business environment is shifting is unprecedented. Businesses and business stakeholders simply don’t have time for traditional change management. Yet preparing and supporting your employees, communicating, and engaging with them throughout the entire transformation lifecycle remains critical.
As companies take stock of their reinvented business plans, assess newly forged supply chains, and consider massive restructuring or mergers, finding the right systems to accommodate these changes can be challenging. Not only that, but the type of change management required in this particular challenging time needs to be quick, agile, and compatible with our virtual world.
Why is change management an important part of system selection?
Whether it’s a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, customer relationship management (CRM) solution, or other front and back office application, selecting and implementing a new system is a long term investment both in terms of time and money. Hence, it makes good sense to ensure that it’s done right the first time!
“If you don’t manage the change correctly, you may end up with a wrong system because it doesn’t respond to your needs or not optimized to support your business,” cautions Patel.
Steering committees and selection teams that ignore change management often find themselves with an “incompatible” or “dysfunctional” system that does not resolve the very same issues that led to the desire of replacing the legacy applications. Inevitably, this leads to:
- Dissatisfaction with the new solution
- Inconsistent adoption rates
- Using antiquated manual workflows
- Redundant processes
- Investing in additional tools and add-on systems
- Unproductive “change fatigue”
- Higher turnover
Honest and open communication is one of the most important success factors for productive change management. When you empower people who are best positioned to drive change and actively seek engagement and feedback, you can effectively step up the pace of change with minimal constraints. To help foster a safe space for dialogue and input — and to help make sure they’re getting the most value out of their new investment — many companies partner with business transformation consultants to ensure a smooth transition.
Improving the system selection with change management
“A robust selection process removes bias and resistance,” noted Patel in a recent presentation to executives.
Because of the impact a new system can have on the business, the selection journey can be complicated. When done well, it requires input from multiple stakeholders, careful budgeting, and thorough evaluation.
Person-centered change management streamlines the process, breaks down resistance, eliminates bias, and tackles complications head-on, paving the way for long-term success.
The system selection process cycle includes three key phases: Selection and Design, Implementation, and Continuous improvement. Change management, of course, lays the foundation for a successful system selection and helps prevent transformation-related challenges. It also minimizes any negative impact the entire transformation journey may have on your business.
Continuous change, one update at a time
Gathering stakeholder input, selecting a system, designing systems with your future-state in mind, and implementing processes and best practices are just the start of the cycle.
Optimization and system upgrades should be continuous — think of it as an evolutionary process rather than an explosive, big-bang change. Businesses that hold off or overlook periodic upgrades and updates will find themselves in the uncomfortable (and potentially explosive) system selection process again and again.
Over time, external market demands, and internal factors will impact your business; whether it’s undergoing a major transaction, a change in leadership, variations in customer demand, new regulations and requirements, or increase in workforce. For these reasons, processes and systems should be regularly reevaluated and optimized.
The demands of today’s digital workforce and the shifting business environment requires constant change. So, we’re going to address the elephant in the room: people — even the best of them — can be resistant to change. Often, new system implementation is avoided or postponed, to the detriment of the business, because of internal resistance and lack of communication.
Its possible that your team members are worried about an increase in their already demanding workload or perhaps they have simply grown comfortable with the system they’ve been using for the past decade! Whatever the reason, we all know that the unknown can be scary. No matter what their concerns may be, person-centered change management legitimizes and addresses their worries while helping them understand that new systems and automation will allow them to focus on what they’re hired to do – analyzing and delivering actionable insights.
Creating a future state that helps your business stay ahead of the competition requires innovation, agility, and compassion. To learn more about change management and systems that can accelerate growth, contact MorganFranklin Consulting. Let’s work together.