The importance of change management and employee engagement during technology implementations
Change management is a key focus for many businesses, be it accountancy firms, bookkeeping practices or outsourced payroll providers. We always talk about changing for the good; but as people, we tend to resist change, especially if it's thrust upon us quickly with little notice to adapt. The implementation of new technology can be daunting for some, so how can organisations ease the pain of change? This is relevant not only for when your own firm adopts new technology, but also for helping your clients to navigate the uptake of this new technology.
Why is change management essential, and what areas are best to focus on for success?
When implementing new technology, understanding who exactly will be affected by the change is vital for success. Once you know who will be impacted, creating a change management plan from the beginning is critical.
The 2 P’s: People and Planning
A change management plan and even a committee can be helpful as these support the transition process and cover a lot of fundamentals such as strategy development, identifying affected stakeholders and areas of resistance. From this, the work breakdown structure, scoping documents and risk assessments can be formed and will help direct your approach including your communication method, style and frequency. This will change as employees progress through the implementation.
When it comes to your or your clients' people - include them often, and as early as possible. Including people helps minimise errors and gather valuable feedback, allowing people to ‘digest’ the change more easily. Without the support of people, successful change is unlikely to occur so approaching change more democratically instead of focusing purely on a top-down approach will allow for a smoother transition. This approach will help inform you of what stage stakeholders are at within the change process - such as acceptance or denial - and plan appropriate actions.
What are the key stages of successful technology implementations?
Planning the stages of your plan is helpful to maintain momentum throughout implementation. Some stages to include could be:
- Scope meeting: Meet with relevant stakeholders sets you up for success, clarifies details and gives you a clearer picture of the project overall for all parties to be in agreement.
- Project planning: Set a project plan and workflow detailing milestones, due dates, the scope, risks, costs and the critical path as well as your communication plan and method of delivery.
- Training: You must give your and your clients' employees and users the tools to learn a new system, as not all employees will learn at the same rate or in the same way.
- Evaluation: User Acceptance Testing or UAT is vital to assure you that the implementation was successful (you can combat the training resistance through hands-on UAT).
How do you avoid poor implementation?
Preparation and risk identification is key as well as talking about change. The more discussions that are had, the more your concerns can be identified and overcome.
It's important to remember that communication - no matter how positive - is not going to be enough without continual reinforcement and time to process. Empowering you and your clients' teams during this time and identifying change champions can help to ease the pain of implementation.
Remember having a scope and plan will help guide you as you implement change, but just as important is taking into consideration the people you are working with, and the people you will be affecting. Without the support of affected stakeholders, plans can become quickly derailed or prolonged.
Top tips for a successful technology implementation
Here are a few extra tips to make your next change campaign that much smoother.
- Reward and recognise those who are supporting and making the change.
- Adopt change champions.
- Celebrate success.
- Plan often and early, and identify your risks.
- Gather feedback for lessons learnt.
- Implementation is the beginning of the relationship with your client.
- Snacks! A great way to relax people and get everyone ready to sit down and talk.
Check out our webinar for a more in-depth discussion on change management and employee engagement during the process.