By Mike Kinney, Vice President of Sales
As part of our Executive Series, Asure Software’s Vice President of AsureSpace Sales, Mike Kinney, has put together a 2 part look at change management, “The Whole Point of “Change Management” is to Change, Right?”
The Whole Point of “Change Management” is to Change, Right?
Then why do 65% of all technology initiatives fail to reach their desired business goals and only 37% of all those initiatives achieve any kind of measurable financial return? The answer is not found in the reasons for change, or in the solutions (technology) chosen to affect change, but rather in the process and execution of Change Management.
The first hurdle to success is having a common understanding of what Change Management really is! The phrase “Change Management” can mean many things to many different people. Some see it as an exercise of internal communications and training. Others may see it only from an IT perspective as the process for managing hardware and software version control. In the project management world, it usually means a change in a project schedule or scope. Without a clear definition and plan for change, money, resources, and time lost is inevitable, and will ultimately erode the overall value of the change initiative’s intention.
Simply put, Change Management is an approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and/or organizations to a desired future state. Based on this definition, we can establish a successful Change Management Methodology and bring meaning to what success should look like.
Part 1: What, Why, & How of Change Management & Desired State
There are many reasons to launch a technology project or initiative. The “What” includes; customer demands, competitive response, internal inefficiencies, regulation, or market shifts. The “why” behind each and all of these triggers (at a high level) is simply to improve performance. Performance improvement only comes with a “change” in behavior at an individual, team, or company level. The “How” of performance improvement comes from the new behavior change, not just the new technology enablement.
Technology enhancements enable change, but real performance improvement happens when people change their behavior. A winning strategy in achieving 100% of a new desired state goal means including an equal amount of attention to the process of changing employee’s behavior and supporting employees through that transition, as the time spent on evaluating a solution’s technical requirements.
Most organizations do a pretty good job of evaluating technical requirements and work-flow, but ignore the importance Change Management has on the success of any technology initiative. You don’t believe me? Look at any RFI/RFP. What you see are pages and pages of questions vetting out every last detail of the software capability requirements. Look one more time. You probably won’t see much on Change Management or any details questions regarding managing or supporting employee behavior changes.
In the rare case that an RFI/RFP does address this topic, it is usually at a very high level. For example, you may see questions like the following, “please explain your deployment process” or “what kind of training do you provide?” Not really the interrogative depth or insights needed to protect the return on a new technology spend, huh?
It’s easy to point fingers at what is broke… So, let’s talk about what should be included in the discussion of technology initiatives, and the process needed for employee behavior changes.
The Process of Change: The “How”…
Building confidence in the user population is critical to behavior change. Confidence begets enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is the catalyst to engagement, engagement equals interest, and interest is the prerequisite to “ACTION” that results in high user adoption rates. Successful technology change initiatives means RFI/RFP must include questions around the full spectrum of the “change in behaviors” from the building of confidence to “Action” that achieves high user adoption rates.
A simple methodology that gives deployment teams the tools to build confidence that ignites “Action” with all the key stakeholders and user population is a simple Plan, Deploy, and Accept (PDA) Change Management Methodology. Keeping it simple and not over engineering the process will allow everyone to focus on the right behavior changes and adoption verses the logistics of a complicated change methodology.
There are several items that go into each stage of this (PDA) Change Management Methodology, but for this article let me share with you the spirit and high-level goal of each stage:
Stages Of Change Management
The “Plan” stage is the vision and roadmap of the “change” portion of the initiative. This is where all the key stakeholders get a chance to share their voice on what the roadmap and output of the solution will look like. So don’t rush this. At this point, it is important to align the technical workflow with the desired change in employee behavior. Their “Voice” needs to be heard in this stage to ignite the needed action in the “Accept” phase. The “Plan” stage in this Change Management Model (if done right) provides the foundation and support needed for a successful initiative outcome.
The “Deploy” stage is about deploying the new technology in the environment of the user population. In this stage, learning the new way of doing things takes center stage. Any successful change model puts a spot light on the user population. A learning environment must be established to win the battle of “the fear of change” and build the confidence needed in the user population to achieve the desired state of the initiative.
The “Accept” stage is where the adoption of change takes place and culminates with a usability audit. The usability audit is the act of testing for the individual, team, or company’s acceptance of the desired behavior changes. Once the new technology is rolled out in a live environment, the project team must circle back and test the initial adoption rate. Then, access the varying levels of adopters in the overall group, isolate and remove any outstanding obstacles for each of the levels of adoption, re-train and test that group again (repeat as needed). This process is called targeted communication.
For success to occur a framework of continuous targeted communication must be established, because in the end, projects or initiatives require some individuals to change how they do their jobs. If these individuals do not adopt the new change to the way they currently work, the desired business goals will not be realized.
About Mike Kinney
Mike Kinney joined Asure Software in May 2011 as Vice President of Sales. He provides Asure with more than 16 years of sales and marketing experience in the human capital management business services industry. Mike also offers expertise in Software as a Service (SaaS) and hardware solutions to existing and potential Asure clients. Before joining Asure Software, he served Ceridian Corporation as Regional Vice President, HR Payroll Division and held leadership roles at KForce and CFS. Mike earned his BA in Political Science with a concentration in Economics from the University of Texas, Austin.