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Change Management: Don’t Let Your Technology Go the Way of Your Treadmill

You buy a treadmill with the commitment of using it regularly, getting healthy and feeling better.

The excitement of purchasing the new equipment has you make all kinds of promises, but if you don't "hit the ground running" with the right discipline from the start, it’ll be tough to achieve your goals.

The same excitement can come when you decide to implement a new technology solution. Just like you picture yourself fitting into those skinny jeans again as soon as you bring the treadmill home – you can already envision the improved performance by just installing the application.

But having a solution and using it are two very different things.

You get the treadmill in and make a plan to use it every day. However, by the time bathing suit season comes around again, the treadmill is buried under clothing and towels and you’re frustrated and blame the treadmill. In your opinion, treadmills don’t work.

This scenario is all too similar to what happens when you try to introduce a new technology solution to your organization without having a robust change management program as part of the implementation.

The promise of streamlined processes, access to valuable data or automation of manual tasks is what has you buy the software in the first place, but it takes a lot more than just putting your treadmill in the bedroom – I mean implementing the tool – to achieve those goals.

Change management – how you introduce, train, encourage and support your teams in the use of technologies, or frankly any new way of working – will determine how successful you’ll be in realizing the promise. An effective change management program follows a pretty simple approach:

1. Secure Sponsors. It’s critical to secure senior sponsors that represent each group of stakeholders to endorse, encourage and engage users in use of the technology. If the sponsorship is not reflective of all stakeholders, you risk the “not invented here” syndrome which challenges adoption.

2. Sell the Value Proposition. While new tools are often implemented to address deficiencies, you want to market the benefits – easier, faster, better – rather than focus on the challenges you are trying to overcome. Also, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so make sure to market the appropriate “WIFM” (what’s in it for me) when addressing your different stakeholders. For example, management may value the time entry reporting, while staff will appreciate the ease with which you enter time.

3. Measure what Matters – Ultimately, you’ll want to track success against strategic goals supported by your technology implementation. For example, % reduction in processing time, % increase in leads converted. But in the early stages, that can be hard. As a result, it’s important to start by tracking basic usage (e.g. % target population logged on, # records loaded, % cases handled via tool, etc.) to encourage adoption. As you see usage increase, you will start to see implementation and strategic success.

4. Build Anticipation – It’s never too early to start your marketing campaign to build excitement for the new tool. A drip campaign – steady communication highlighting one new tool capability at a time – will begin to register and resonate. Tie back to end user needs: “We heard you, so we are introducing ….” builds goodwill and support. It makes people stop and think, “Hey, I asked for this, and they are delivering it.”

5. Avoid the Big Reveal – People are often reluctant to show their early work, especially when there are bugs. But having users involved throughout the process – from selecting the tool, to its development, testing and training is critical. Not only will it ensure greater alignment with actual business needs, but it will foster a sense of ownership and accountability for the end solution – and therefore support – and an impetus to use it.

6. Identify power users across the community. They will be your greatest asset to getting users on board and/or helping them advance use of the tool. Just make sure they teach their peers how to fish instead of fishing for them. Recognize and reward them for their help.

7. Train – often – and in many ways. Tip sheets, FAQs, in-person and recorded demos and hands-on training are all part of a successful adoption campaign. Recognize that everyone learns differently and so you need different media to appeal to your audience. Remember that seeing a tool in a demo is not at all the same as using it. When people use it, the real questions arise, so be prepared with guidance and support. Your power user community will be of great value during this phase to help in troubleshooting and answering questions.

8. Get and act on feedback. Share the good and bad – even when it’s painful. Promote the “wins” and acknowledge the “room for improvement” and communicate plans to address issues when you can. It’s important for end users to feel heard in their use of the tool; they will be more patient during the wait for fixes and improvements if their issues are acknowledged.

9. Lead by example. It’s hard, but make sure management uses the tool – even if only for reporting. When senior management ignores a technology tool, the attitude becomes, “If the boss doesn’t use it – why should I?” Track and course correct usage at all levels – even if it means tying to performance reviews.

10. Communicate WIFM success stories. Remember to come full circle with your communication campaign. Remind your audience why you implemented the solution in the first place. And as you begin to see examples of your targeted benefits come true, market the wins – especially if not yet being felt by everyone. Celebrate the incremental progress and encourage others to get onboard.

With an effective change management program you can “hit the ground running” with the implementation of your new or upgraded technology solution, and ensure greater and faster success with achieving your intended performance and /or productivity goals.


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