Whenever your business undergoes any kind of change or transformation, it’s important to not only choose the right tools but ensure your employees understand why the change is happening. Let’s say you’re moving to a new ERP system. It’s not just about finding and implementing the right system.
For the best chances of user adoption, you need to help your team through this change and empower them with the tools and knowledge needed to get the job done. Here are some key components of a change management strategy.
- Create a culture of innovation
- Share your vision across the company
- Prioritise stakeholder engagement activities
- Build the ideal team to be accountable for your efforts
- Assess the impact of the change
- Recruit an innovative workforce
- Bring in innovators from the outside
1. Create a culture of innovation
To ensure your project will truly succeed, you need to create a culture where all ideas, from the greatest to the most far-fetched, are welcomed and valued. If your employees aren’t scared their ideas will be shot down, they’re more likely to develop the can-do, positive attitude required for innovation.
Do this by opening up the lines of communication between management and employees. Company-wide collaboration sessions are a great strategy. They ensure every employee feels involved and as though their opinion is valued.
2. Share your vision across the company
It’s not enough to have a good vision in place. You need that one everybody in your business understands. Just because you understand the benefits of your change initiative (for example, upgrading your ERP system) doesn’t mean the rest of your team does.
In larger businesses, when it comes to strategical business projects, it often starts with the most senior stakeholders. They set the vision, the messaging, the goals and the path. By the time that vision trickles through the rest of the company and reaches the teams who will do the implementing, a lot of that original messaging and passion is lost.
Because of this, it can be difficult for your teams to buy into the changes. They may not understand or agree with what’s happening. And that can obviously make the project more challenging.
Avoid this by keeping the teams who need to know in the loop right from the start. You could have a member or two from each key team attending the initial planning meetings. This makes sharing the vision across the business much easier and means the news is less likely to be diluted or misunderstood.
3. Prioritise stakeholder engagement activities
Just because you’ve got your team to buy into your vision/initiative doesn’t mean they’ll stay ‘bought in’ for the duration of the project. For example, they might change their minds, be seconded to another project or even leave the business. And then you’ll have to work on engaging new people.
That’s why you must consistently establish and promote your change vision. This includes:
- Stakeholder analysis and management
- Aligning mindsets by working closely with process owners and key stakeholders
- Bringing your vision to life via rich pictures and journey maps
- Building awareness and engagement across the business as the initiative progresses
4. Build the ideal team to be accountable for your efforts
As well as keeping your key teams in the loop from the start, you should also designate leaders to drive the project. Innovation as a whole shouldn’t be the responsibility of just your corporate business development team/units; it’s the responsibility of every leader at every level.
Your leaders should be:
- Skilled in using innovation tools
- Capable of thinking with an open mind and able to create opportunities for such scenarios
- Able to evaluate new options without making premature judgments
- Creative and able to embrace unconventional ideas
- Adept in mentoring and recognising fellow innovators
This list isn’t exhaustive but the point we’re trying to get across is that you need leaders who are as skilled at encouraging innovation and change as they are at running their department.
5. Assess the impact of the change
The more the new ERP system impacts your business, the (potentially) more work you’ll need to do to get your team onboard and your processes prepared. So, work with key stakeholders from across the business to understand the changes.
You could hold workshops to capture high-level change impacts. As the project progresses, use a Change Impact Log to note down the potential impacts of change.
6. Recruit an innovative workforce
To stay innovative, try and look for potential employees who could bring an element of creativity to your team when you’re hiring. Ask yourself whether these candidates can see things in a new light and bring fresh ideas to your business.
This ensures your company will always be thinking of ways to drive improvement and process efficiency, whether it’s before, during or after an implementation project.
Recent research has also found that a more diverse workforce can boost innovation and financial results. So, that’s another aspect to keep in mind.
7. Bring in innovators from the outside
Your company doesn’t need to bear the brunt and pressure of innovation on its own. Often, working with third-party businesses can help bring new ideas into the mix, speed up the process and reduce the chances of errors.
There are companies that specialize in change and transformation projects, from brainstorming ideas and putting a plan in place to implementing everything. Why not work with these companies? Their expertise in implementations across a variety of industries can be very valuable especially if your business hasn’t undertaken many projects of a similar scale before.
You don’t need to hire these companies to take over every aspect of the project (though that’s definitely an option if you’d like it to be). You can even just outsource a part of the process - either way, you’ll likely find your project is completed and your objectives achieved much quicker and more successfully than if you didn’t outsource at all.
Are you certain you’re tackling digital transformation as per best practices?
Creating and following an effective change management strategy can help ensure your ERP implementation project proceeds as smoothly as possible. But that’s not the only thing you need to consider. What about your value proposition? How will your new ERP system affect that?
In our guide to digital transformation, we lay out the key elements guaranteed to help you take on digital transformation. From why people are the main reason for transformation projects failing to the importance of new value, download our cheat sheet below.