Do you know what’s the worst part about change? It changes your daily work schedules. Suddenly, you no longer like the new things. It’s like waking up to a whole new world, out of the blue, one morning. Except that this change happens over a period, without you realizing the small-but-consequential steps till suddenly, you’ve transformed to a new routine.
“Change is inevitable”. Of course, it is. Of course, with dynamic process changes and systems automating administrative activities, it is imperative to change. However, the key trick is “How to manage the change” You can either make it exciting or harrowing for the users because, hey “lets shut the current system” and enforce employees to use a NEW System cannot guarantee transition. Here’s why organizations must look at benefits for aligning change management to Supply Chain implementations.
1. Reality Check – Conducting Change Readiness Assessment
The first step for implementing a change management approach for Supply Chain projects is assessing the current state of your business and its processes. This phase is often termed as “getting-ready” period. During this phase:
- Assess the scope of the change, including: how big is this change? How many people are being affected or radical changing?
- Assess the readiness of the organization impacted by the change, including the value systems? How much change is already going on?
Change Management strategy is direct result of these assessments and degree of risk your organization is or likely to face. For eg. For a large change project, organization will entail more risk in comparison to a smaller project. These assessments provide you change management efforts.
2. Do you have people by your side? – Get BUY-IN
To have successful ERP implementation, there needs to be complete buy-in, especially for business transformation projects which may require significant cultural changes. This includes both leadership team and users/employees.
First and foremost, step is to establish the project goals and what are its key impacts. Without your entire management team aligned to the idea of NEW System/process, don’t even think about an implementation. Supply Chain transformation impacts an organization’s buying way and no way would the leadership move a step without knowing its impact and how it fosters savings, etc. to name a few benefits.
For a moment let’s assume a new system went live today and there were zero technical failures encountered on the first day. Successfully implemented, right? However, on the other hand few employees used it on first day. Mixed emotions about the situation eh? It is believed that the success of any project is measured by the adoption rate but how much attention was given to this area? Minimal? Employee buy-in is most crucial because if your employees aren’t going to end up using a new system, then there’s absolutely no reason to implement it. Will people utilize the system? Would this be of any benefit to their current working? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then influence/persuade the masses. You can try following these steps:
- Show the system benefits, step by step
- Highlight any time-saving features
- How it reduces their efforts
3. Don’t Drop the Ball: Have a Consistent Communication Plan
You may have heard that messages need to be repeated five to seven times before they are cemented into the mind of employees. This is because each employee carries a variant readiness to understand change. Therefore, effective communicators: the audience, what is said and when it is said need to be crafted. For e.g. benefits of the new process/system and how it will improve their daily work management. The element of “What’s In for Me” is critical for employee understanding. In case your understanding of communication is limited to emails as a medium then you must look at alternative options for reaching out to employees. Change management uses more than 100 techniques like posters, webinars, online videos, etc. to reach out to employees. These mediums are interactive and hold onto their interest. Formalizing a communication plan has helped in boosting employee adoption process.
4. Collaborative Learning: Training
For a moment think, all your employees write from right hand and one day they are asked to ONLY use left hand for writing. How would they feel? Discomforted? Slow on productivity, right? Now consider following a new process/system for buying? Employees will be LOST. They require handholding, consistent training to adapt the new way of working. Remember, having one classroom training will NOT be enough for their learning curve.
Change Management suggests following methods for devising a training methodology:
1. Instructor Lead Training Workshops
2. Activity Walkthroughs
3. Live Demos
5. Access to Test scenarios or online trails
6. Live Q&A
MOST IMPORTANTLY, be open and honest about employee feedback. Talk to them over coffee for instance and keep gauging their review(s) to measure success/failure.
5. Don’t react without listening: Assessment and Evaluation
Listening is an Art. But, do we listen to understand or we listen to react? In the final step, we look at evaluating the efforts and lessons learnt during implementation. While surveys are the easiest way of reaching to employees to assess, this phase also includes celebrating early success, conducting after-action review and transferring ownership of the change. How are employees responding to the change, has their work output been positively affected? At this point change management stands back from the entire program, evaluates success and failures, and identifies learnings for improvements. After all, change is a journey, isn’t it?
To summarize, change management emerged from wings and has now occupied center stage for not just implementation of large/medium/small size Supplier Chain project(s) but also simplifying what’s changing, categorizing target audience, their communication and training plans and most importantly in ensuring a seamless user adoption after implementation.
1. Quote by Benjamin Disraeli
3. Change Management by Jeffery M. Hiatt