Change management strategies and plans need to be timely and educational, serving to inform, train, and drive adoption throughout the entire project, as well as directly address some of the challenges we have cited. Senior leadership needs to be in sync with change management activities, in order to most effectively drive tough decisions and align the organization on new ways of operating.
For example, if the organization is too reliant on margin rates in culture, reporting and incentives, then a coordinated campaign must be developed to educate and persuade stakeholders about the importance of the tradeoff between margin rates and margin dollars. This should involve an informational campaign, guidance for senior leadership, revamped incentives and review structures, expanded reporting, and detailed follow up.
One extremely valuable tool for creating alignment, promoting championship, and neutralizing detractors is a comprehensive stakeholder action plan. This analysis is typically performed immediately after the project kicks off to help capture detailed information about key stakeholder and influencer (i.e., well respected and / or vocal associates) attitudes toward the initiative. The stakeholder action plan is typically documented by a third-party trusted advisor based on interviews with each of the identified stakeholders. Action plans can then be created for senior leadership and individuals who are identified as potentially resistant to change or who may negatively impact adoption. Additionally, action plans should include project “ambassadors” who can be leveraged to garner support. These specific action plans will run in parallel with other targeted and project-wide change management activities and be used to inform and develop more effective training materials and messaging.
The most important objective of this exercise is to consolidate support while converting or mitigating resistance. Carrying out these action plans then becomes part of the regular cadence of the project and can be reported on during status meetings. In order to be most effective, however, the stakeholder action plan must be completely candid. For that reason, only the highest level of project leadership should manage the document and maintain its confidentiality.
Lastly, training strategies, schedules and materials must be carefully designed and tailored to the new processes and organization. While “out-of-the-box” training materials provided by the software vendor are useful in instructing on generic system tasks, they are typically insufficient to ensure the organization fully grasps changes to roles and responsibilities and how to perform their jobs in the new environment. In a later section, we will discuss process design – this represents a crucial input to the development of training materials, as well as helps comprehend which associates the new system will impact and how significantly.