Change Management: The Key to Digital Transformation

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Man with dark hair wearing a blue shirt is standing up talking in a meeting room full of people. Pink and purple lens graphic in the background.Successful digital transformation depends on two factors; the technology you invest in, and the change management program you devise for your workforce.

3 Factors for Successful Digital Transformation

The Change Management Schedule

Use Your Back-End Data

“70-95% of digital transformations fail” – Forbes
Everyone understands how important digital transformation is. Many people will also have heard that between 70-95% of digital transformation programs fail, depending on whether you’re reading McKinsey, Boston Consulting, KPMG or Bain & Company 1. A great deal of research has gone into understanding why that is. The explanation, according to Deloitte, always comes down to the same, core issue:
“A human-centric view of managing change is crucial for realising the benefits of a digital transformation programme.” Deloitte 2
Understandably, companies have a natural tendency to focus on the technology they’ve invested in. After all, you now have this powerful software tool which will create efficiencies and generates more revenue and better margins. But it’s crucial that companies then invest just as much time and energy in the “transformation” part of their program. In other words, in their people.

3 Factors for Successful Digital Transformation

Jeff Hopkins, Vice President, Global PMO and Intelligrated PMO Leader at Honeywell, says the question companies need to focus on, then, is:

“What do our people need to successfully navigate that transformation?”

Jeff was speaking on our 5 Tips to Accelerate Digital Transformation podcast, and he maintains there are three factors to ensure a program’s success:

  1. Engage senior leadership
  2. Commit the resources
  3. Put in place (and stick to) a schedule

You have to make sure that everyone on the senior management team agrees that this is a priority, and that they’re prepared to commit the resources needed to implement it. Crucially, you then need to map out and stick to a change management schedule.

The Change Management Schedule

Establishing a change management schedule does two things. First, it signals that, whatever about the different elements included in that schedule, we have a specific end date and this is a deadline we all have to stick to.

One of the main reasons that digital transformation programs fail is that the date they’ve set for when everyone starts working using the new software solution keeps getting delayed and deferred. You have to have a cast-iron cut-off point.

Second, what you include in your schedule demonstrates that you appreciate the difference between what these changes mean for senior management, compared to what they mean for most employees.

For senior management, all these operational efficiencies will be good for the company. But what most employees ask themselves is, what will these changes mean for me? Your schedule then needs to be focused on the two elements that will answer that: training and education.

Your training sessions will help them understand the What, what the new software does and how it functions. The education elements will provide them with the Why, so that you can explain how and why their jobs will be so much easier once they start working in the new way.

Broadly speaking, your schedule will look something like the following:

    • Month 1: Kick off and pre-training.
    • Month 2-3: Workshops and configuration.
    • Month 4: User acceptance testing (UAT).
    • Month 5: Train the trainer/end user/admin training.
    • Month 6: Go-live.

First, you’ll need to identify and appoint subject matter experts (SMEs) and change network leaders, because in every program there’ll be people who are innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggers.

You need to find your change champions and harness their enthusiasm. They’ll be involved in the testing, in making sure the requirements are well understood and in engaging users in a way that ensures the program is implemented in line with the schedule.

Then, in the second and third months, you’ll have workshops to establish precisely what training is needed. During which, your vendor will be configuring your software, in preparation for its implementation. Then come the different UAT modules, before finally, around the five or six month mark, you ‘go-live’.

Use Your Back-End Data

It’s important for your managers and SMEs to approach the change management schedule in a proactive way. They can use the back-end data to monitor which parts of the software tool users are exploring, and which ones they are spending less time on.

They can then contact those users to get feedback so that they can both have a better understanding around which areas need further training. Though clearly, this has to be done in a sensitive and entirely constructive way.

Successful digital transformation depends on establishing and following a change management program. Because the transformation hoped for is as much about people as it about technology. And as a company, you need to invest equally in both.

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