Often, a new implementation of a data or analytics technology platform, operational software etc., includes a number components and solutions that might be new to the organization, employees, or user base (if it’s a digital service provider or similar).
With any upgrade in technology, there is a learning curve for users, and there are always changes in business processes—all of which affect productivity, efficiency and morale. The implications and ramifications of introducing new software may not be critical in all organizations or industries. However, in a highly regulated, fast-paced or competitive environment, such as healthcare, change can be devastating.
The “heart of a change management plan” are the activities required to address the identified change impacts.
These activities should move stakeholders along the commitment curve, facilitate adoption of the change solution, and achieve long-term business benefits.
There are many variations in how people within the organization react to change, but most models depict the following four stages of emotional response to change:
• Awareness – People know that change is coming. They have a high level of awareness of what is driving that change and possess the broad vision.
• Understanding – People understand the future state the organization should be. They understand how change will impact them and business processes.
• Adoption – By definition is change in his/her area in order to try the change solution, become familiar with and experience the implications that might occur. Also these people convey the message within the organization that new ways of working are soon to become a reality.
• Commitment – These people are committed to the change process and communicate it as the new status quo in the organization. They are strongly aligned with the change’s goals.
Stakeholders progress along the stages depending on their starting point – current state and desired point – future state. Different stakeholders with different roles will start differently with the change depending on their involvement in the organization and their present state. From here it is obvious to expect slower or faster progress from each individual to the desired future state. There are multiple factors that drive people, but when it’s a technical change solution the strongest one is technical curiosity. The velocity here will be determined by people’s technical skills i.e. some of them were early adopters to new tech before some were avoiding until it became unavoidable and took part of their everyday lives.
As we said previously, change adoption is impacted from the roles of the stakeholders. The first ones who will accept and execute it with highest velocity are the project stakeholders and the sponsors who invest in the change solution, retrospectively the velocity will decrease with the organization’s leaders, again will decrease with the agents (the organizational network) and at the end the biggest decrease in adoption will be at the end users side (customers, clients etc.).
You should also consider these potential pressures at employees’ side who are learning the new software:
• Employees working in a very time-sensitive environment. They are not afforded the luxury of being slow or inefficient;
• Production must be executed without mistakes at highest level; and
• Must be able to respond to internal or external questions and concerns in a timely manner.
While these are “more obvious” factors that impact change, there are number of other issues that might sabotage the process and even break it:
• Broken comm-lines. If the organization has a history of bad communication between its terminals, then the process of change will be frustrating and stuck there for ages;
• Inconsistent and fragmented onboarding of highly needed employees; and
• Veteran employees unable to get going with the advanced software.
If these issues are not addressed correctly and taken care of then, we have a drop down in the velocity of implementation. While it is different from case to case most of the times the drop down is the contrary: awareness – unaware; understanding – confusion; adoption – decision not to adopt; and commitment – capability terminated.
Taken together, the risk of doing nothing or managing change poorly can be devastating to a project. To bring this full circle, we began this section by discussing the notion of measuring the impact of the change. This should be used to clearly set the stage for why the change is important and to help create that sense of urgency on an organizational level.
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