I recently chatted with a former client about the critical system implementation underway. Throughout our conversation, I was reminded that there are common themes for the successful adoption of any system, including behavior change.
You’ll know you’re doing it right when:
- The business case and the “case for change” are clear. It’s not enough to say, “We’re patching up our legacy systems.” Explain what would happen if you don’t have an effective change that will resonate with day-to-day users. Explain how system vulnerabilities impact the business and, ultimately, the organization.
- Everyone is on the same page & aligned with what success looks like. Does success mean just implementing a system on time and on budget, regardless of the many unmet requirements? Or does success mean meeting all your requirements with clean integration to/from the other systems? Sponsors should be aligned upfront on the definition of success based on the business case objectives they want to achieve.
- Your change network are your allies. Your change agents should represent all areas of the business and help you drive change by sharing insights on the day-to-day impact of changes, feedback on communications, and what will work. They are the “system whisperers” to help you anticipate issues and make your implementation successful.
- Changes in process and ways of working are clear. One of the biggest mistakes I still see is companies assume that they only need to train on the out-of-the-box functionality. They miss setting expectations and communicating them to those impacted. Effective change efforts ensure that you set expectations ahead of time, with frequent reminders along the way.
- Impacts on the organization, jobs, and roles & responsibilities are understood. If you’re changing a significant proportion of a user’s job role or tasks, define how that will impact the expectations of the job. What additional skills will be required if the system provides more capabilities than today? Understand these impacts before go-live so expectations can be set and managed effectively.
- Sponsors set the tone with realistic expectations for go-live. Are you in for a bumpy ride? Say it – clearly – with confidence that you’ll get through it together because expanded functionality and improvements are on the horizon. Expecting and conveying that the system will solve most problems on day one sets you up for disappointment and negative perceptions. These first impressions are hard to overcome even as things improve.
- Users have what they need when they go live. This may mean staging your training to focus on the most critical processes & system tasks or pushing other training, such as reporting, until later (when users will use reports). An end-of-quarter report needs to be trained, but at the end of the quarter.
- Have a robust go-live and post-go-live training plan with flexibility for “just in time” training. Your Hypercare/post-go-live plan should include different ways of training, such as office hours, and coaching assigned to key user groups, to meet the diverse needs. Build in time to develop additional quick reference guides (QRGs) or job aids based on user feedback.
- Have a user and business readiness dashboard to measure adoption over time. Dashboards help you gauge and monitor adoption and behavior change, as well as provide a snapshot of your success in gaining adoption. Use these metrics to chart progress after go-live and sustain the change until it is “business as usual.”
- The business champions the new system (not just IT). The more change is viewed from the lens of “IT is doing this to us,” the less chance of success. The best change efforts enlist the business sponsors as visible champions, reiterating support along the way.
The right change plan will look at all users, impacts, and stakeholders so your new technology will deliver the outcome that you had in mind when you made the investment. It’s not a luxury you can afford to miss.
Sheri Browning is a Partner at PeopleResults. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sbPResults