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You don't have to look far to find an example of a bungled technology launch PHOTO: chaf.haddad
You don’t have to look hard to find tales of failed implementations and technology investments that have generated nowhere near their expected level of ROI and business value.

A critical part of any new technology implementation is change management, and yet change management is one of the components organizations seem to struggle with the most.

For businesses to maximize the return on their technology investment, all of the teams impacted by the new technology need to understand what will change, how it will change, when it will change and, perhaps most important, why it will change.

Getting to the How and the Why

How can you know in advance the impact a new technology will have on teams and systems? What’s the best way to ensure employees are aware of — and prepared for — looming changes?

Understanding current processes, what they are trying to accomplish and why they were established in the first place is an essential first step to successfully manage change and optimize the return on any technology investment.

Let’s look at how two technology implementations went to demonstrate the importance of business processes in change management.

In the first implementation, the company was attempting to consolidate two business units. It was deploying an ERP system to integrate their core business processes. The company opted to use a standard, out-of-the-box configuration and neither business unit had thoroughly documented its current business processes.

Problems occurred as soon as the implementation began. Neither the ERP vendor nor the systems integrator had a detailed understanding of the organization’s business processes. This significantly slowed implementation and impacted the effectiveness and staff confidence in the new system. 

Compare that to another example where the first step taken by the organization — before even looking at possible technology solutions — was to document all of their current business processes, as well as any process variations and their ideal, future state processes. 

The company also created a series of detailed use cases in order to be clear on system requirements and to speed up the design phases in the solution design.

Taking these initial steps enabled the company to structure their testing to get the coverage they wanted. The organization also validated their thinking by getting input from all of its stakeholders: employees as well as outside users. 

This not only created staff buy-in but helped in overcoming any issues presented by business unit silos and the process variations they had previously adopted.

Best Practices to Improve Your ROI

These examples illustrate differences in the use of process, as well as best practices organizations should employ to successfully manage change and maximize the return on its technology investment.

  1. First, it is essential for businesses to document and understand their current processes, and any process variations. Businesses often don’t appreciate the complexity of their own processes until they see them mapped. To determine whether there are historical or practical reasons why processes are what they are, investigate and understand the reasons behind each, as well as any nuances or variations that exist within the processes.
  2. Involve all the affected areas of the business in both current and future state workshops. Change management demands everyone impacted by technology changes get on the same page. Doing so helps to overcome resistance to change, and will also preempt some of the staff complaints that normally follow. Even more important, creating buy-in helps to inform the processes and gives staff a better understanding of not only what changes are being made, but why they are being made.
  3. Finally, if done well, planning and analysis up front will make decision making easier and pay off in the long run. A clear understanding of what the outcome of the organization’s processes should be will make it easier: to make the right decisions about what the solutions should be; to design those solutions; to test those solutions; and train and change, as necessary, those solutions.    

An Avoidable Expensive Mistake 

Technology investments are often critical for business growth and innovation, but they are rarely inexpensive. 

Learn from other failed implementations. If you want to drive successful change and maximize the return on your organization’s next technology investment, start with your business processes. You’ll see the impact on your teams and your bottom line.