The People Factor: Key Ingredient to Successful Business Transformation Projects
Matthew Blair, Change Lead
It's a reality that the success of a business transformation project depends on winning over the people that will be affected by it. Putting aside the promises of increased productivity or greater efficiency that the technology enables, the technology needs to resonate with the people that will be using it to achieve meaningful results. They are the key factor in the overall success of any business transformation, and by not fully engaging stakeholders in the change process, businesses risk their project failing to make an impact or even get off the ground.
People generally don’t welcome change. We are hard-wired to seek stability and naturally resist change when it is imposed on us, which is a challenge because resistance among employees can mean the project misses its milestones or isn’t effectively utilised upon delivery. Companies that have undergone a business transformation will appreciate that change requires consideration, and careful management.
We’ve all been on the receiving end of a badly implemented project at some point in our career. A situation where we didn’t know what was happening or felt rushed into accepting change with not enough training or time to adapt. You may still acutely recall how this made you feel.
For a business transformation project to be a success, these kinds of grievances must always be addressed, because a well-run project will not just get ‘over the line’ but will have enthusiasm and buy-in from users who want to make it a success. So, what steps can you take to make this happen?
Forging a clear path
The key to building engagement and reducing resistance is firstly to really understand the impact of the change on every stakeholder group. Only by doing this can you build comprehensive plans for communications, training, and engagement to help these stakeholders adapt to the change at an appropriate pace.
The impact of the project on your people will be much broader than the technology – it’s likely there will also be parallel changes to process and policy, as well as knowledge and behaviour changes required from staff. There may even be organisational adjustments required too, such as changes to roles or structure. Understanding all these perspectives will enable you to communicate a clear picture of the future to your stakeholders and help with their transition. Even the most complex change will be successful if it is well understood, well communicated and sensitively handled.
Who performs the business change activities?
Given that these steps will define the success of the project, the question remains, who is going to take them? Usually, only the very largest organisations are likely to have dedicated specialist business change managers already. Many companies are likely to be wholly unfamiliar with the activities needed to embed change well and will therefore benefit from the expert services of change management consultants to prompt them, and manage all, or just parts of the journey.
Specialist providers like Symatrix, familiar with both change and technology, can offer businesses everything from light-touch check-ins with the business’s change team to compare notes and provide suggestions; to strategic support with change analysis and planning, right through to full end-to-end management of the change delivery.
Organisations need to ask themselves: do our people know why we’re making this change? Are they going to be ready for it? Or are they likely to resist moving to the new world? How might that affect our chances of success?
Business change management must always address people first and foremost. Ultimately, it can make the difference between just ‘delivering’ a project and making it a real success that has longevity, buy- in and enthusiasm from stakeholders. Delivering change well is less disruptive to operational work and demonstrates that the business truly values its employees. It is a ‘win, win’ for all concerned.
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