Leaves ranging from red to green on a line.
Effective change management drives results and outcomes and is a critical element to a company’s success. PHOTO: Chris Lawton

Anytime a B2B company looks to introduce a new, complex technology there is bound to be a need for change management for that technology to be effective.

Companies are increasingly implementing complex analytics technologies into their business strategy and are 6 times more likely to deliver results if they couple these technologies with effective change management, according to a recent study by Prosci, an independent change management research company.

That same study also found 15 percent of projects with poor change management achieved their project goals, whereas 94 percent of projects with excellent change management achieved their project objectives.

The Value of Effective Change Management

There is also a significant financial correlation with 81 percent of projects that had excellent change management staying on or below budget, and only 48 percent of projects with poor change management staying on or below budget.

This huge gap in productivity shows that effective change management drives results and outcomes and is a critical element to a company’s success.

Despite the potential, company leaders often grapple with one question before deploying: What if no one uses the technology?

The question underscores why a deliberate change management mindset is essential as company leaders evaluate, deploy and reinforce the use of a new technology. As a first step, companies must adopt a structured approach to managing the people side of change and identify a dedicated leader of the effort.

Executive Sponsorship Is Imperative

According to Scott McAllister, Vice President of Growth at Prosci, "the only constant we’ve seen in two decades of research and implementation is that executive sponsorship is the top driver for success, but 58 percent of leaders don’t fully understand what it means to be an effective sponsor."

The ability is there, but the knowledge is not, so it’s important to identify clear expectations. Executive sponsors that do this well are engaged in the implementation process.

They’re at all the key meetings during the implementation process, they’re sending out frequent correspondence to the team implementing a new technology and then once the initiative is rolled out the executive sponsors call the front line staff to check-in directly and gather feedback.

Executives that take this approach will see an accelerated value in the technology that was implemented and the project will feel significantly more successful across the organization, McAllister said.

Explain the 'Why' Behind Change

Although some have recognized this as a critical step, more times than not, companies fail to have executive sponsorship and change management agents that communicate the process and the “why” behind implementing complex technologies.

Just having a member of the executive leadership team championing this technology won’t be enough. Individuals within the organization need to hear how it specifically impacts their day-to-day work, why it’s critical to adopt this technology right now and what’s in it for them.

Having the executive sponsors who believe in this change communicating the background knowledge and context is critical to successful implementation.

Understand the Impacts

Part of making this communication effective is understanding the impact at an individual level and translating that impact to individuals in all parts of the organization, ensuring everyone is on the same page.

While some may think the change management process starts at the top it really begins with the individuals who will be using the new technology every day.

Furthermore, accepting change doesn’t happen in the same way for everyone. It can be quite different for each individual and what really makes it effective is identifying barrier points and addressing those head on individually, if possible.  

Levels of Change Management

Aside from determining and addressing barrier points, there can also be different levels of change needed for different types of technology. Factors that can help determine the level of complexity needed for a new technology include how effectively the company has embarked on previous change journeys, how many initiatives are already in play and how many different departments are being effected by the change.

On the technology side, you have to look at what’s changing in the day-to-day work of employees. If the new technology will encompass a large and disruptive change, then it will require a more complex change management effort versus something smaller and more expected.

For example, following a structured change management process is especially critical when executing implementation of complex technologies, where the opportunity to deliver quantifiable improvements is real and proven.

Overall, implementing a new, complex technology into your business can be challenging. But if you have a change management process in place that is tailored to your company’s needs there’s an opportunity to experience real results that lead to improved employee productivity and noticeable financial growth.