Most of us have been involved in some capacity or other as part of Strategic Data and Analytics Initiatives or Digital Transformation Projects. These initiatives have an organization-wide impact and far-reaching consequences. Post-Covid, and the disruption caused due to the changing landscape, all businesses are re-imagining themselves to improve their internal processes and culture to provide a better customer experience. As per a report, the Global Digital Transformation Market size was evaluated at USD 608.72 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.1% from 2022 to 2030. As per the same report, Analytics Projects have the biggest slice of this pie, followed by Cloud Computing Projects and Initiatives. And this is in addition to the billions of dollars companies spend on their regular day-to-day operations.
However, a substantial percentage of these projects fail to deliver the projected Return on Investment. In a few outlier cases, the whole project fails with significant costs and wasted efforts. An example in point is Revlon which after implementing an ERP System in 2018 had to roll it back as an issue had gone unnoticed which was affecting production and shipping. It led to $64 in unshipped orders, stock price plunge by 6.9% and further legal action by shareholders for financial underperformance.
Drawing inference from the above example, it can be extrapolated that all such projects are multi-dimensional and with the democratization and access to technology available to all, technical knowledge is no longer a differentiator. No one can also doubt the intent of the Business Leaders who own these projects and work their best towards successful implementation.
Multiple articles and studies done post implementation of both successful and not so successful project have highlighted the factors that are important and lead to success. A few reasons attributed to success are as under-
- Shared Vision and Internal Alignment – Leadership buy-in and percolation of goals to all levels is a must-have. And to measure success, metrics are defined in sync across sub-functions and not in silos. No sub-function or team can achieve goals while the organization misses them.
- Clear Transformational Goals – There is no point in having preconceived notions and solutions and then looking for a problem to solve. The best projects have well-defined outcomes and more importantly, metrices to measure them.
- Crafting Plan to Actual Needs – These projects are called Strategic for a reason and there is no space for me too or vanity projects which may make the company look visionary or futuristic. Close scrutiny and due diligence at initial stage is a good way to weed out mediocre projects.
- Setting Realistic Timelines – Going too slow will give under-whelming results and going too fast may lead to a complete project failure. The timelines can be set by taking cognizance of ground realities around operational readiness and incorporation of safety guardrails.
- Wide Adoption of Technologies – All such projects involve mapping and re-mapping of business processes and that’s enabled through technology. With easier access to technology, the real differentiator is now quality execution leading to higher adoption rate of teams. Without that, successful implementation is a faraway dream.
When we look closely, the above sub-strategies are not independent of each other but rather have a clear dimension. It comes down to the overall Change Management Strategy in the interconnected work of multiple teams and stakeholders and how embedded is the culture of change in the organization. By default, change is resisted but with the right kind of strategy, the resistance can be navigated, and the stress induced due to change can be reduced to manageable levels. In a classical sense, change management is a collective term for all tactical and strategic activities involved in getting individuals, teams, and organizations ready and acceptable towards making organizational change – this can be either in day to operations through process re-mapping or organization-wide ERP implementation.
3C’s of Change Management Communication
Any change management strategy will have multiple sub-processes and steps involved. Irrespective of the framework an organization chooses, not enough stress can be given on Communication. We work in a diverse and multi-cultural business place. Messages in either direction can be lost in translation if Communication is not shared in a Concise, Culture Sensitive and Credible Manner. Let’s expand on the 3C’s with examples.
- Concise – Most well-intentioned message can be lost if not presented in a clear and concise form. The average attention span is shortening and there is no scope for long seemingly endless communication. Best to set up the context and come right to the point.
- Culture Sensitive – With the world becoming a one giant office space, this has become more important than ever.
- Credible – Digital Transformation Projects with many moving parts can lead to a game of Chinese Whisper. At such times as these, it is best to get information from credible sources and thus to allay any fears the effected employees may have, it is best to communicate directly, even if the news is not great.
With businesses spending millions of dollars on transformation projects, Prosci’s Best Practices in Change Management benchmarking studies revealed that 93% of participants with excellent change management met or exceeded objectives, while only 15% of those with poor change management met or exceeded objectives. What was more enlightening about the research is that poor change management correlates with better success than applying none at all. Prosci research even shows a direct correlation between effective change management and staying on schedule and on budget.
At DefineRight, change management is a part of all the solutions that we build to address business problems. At the time that we are discovering the various dimensions of the problem we also put together a change management plan to be implemented at various stages of the project execution to get the stakeholder environment ready to absorb the new solution.