Over the last several years, I have helped customers implement and learn a variety of CRM, eDetail, and promotional review systems. In all of that time, I’ve learned that adequate change management is one of the most important aspects to a successful system rollout. Having a new system in place can be wonderful for your organization, but it will impact your SOPs and users, so ensuring positive adoption in the face of such a large change is crucial to its success.

What is change management?

There is a misconception that change management just means changing to a new system or adhering to a new process; it is more than that. Change management is how we support individuals to successfully adopt change in order to drive organizational success and outcomes.

Change Management is also known as a ‘behavioral or cultural change’ and consists of a set of tools, processes and skills for managing the people side of change:

  • Tools: The technology (e.g. Pepper Flow) is the tool that will support the promotional review process
  • Processes: Business SOPs must be relevant and up-to-date to ensure compliance
  • Skills: People in your organization need to have the skills to be successful with the new tool while adhering to the business SOPs.

When change is implemented, organizations tend to disregard the effects on people and soon find the project running into difficulties ahead. So how can your organization be successful with users adopting change? What are the best practices?

Stage 1 – Prepare for change

  1. Identify and finalize a project team. Ensure there is expertise, credibility, leadership and a diverse skill set among the team to assist with making timely and informed decisions.
  2. Focus on setting the business context. What is the vision and rationale behind these changes? You may need to seek involvement at an executive level or from key divisional stakeholders to assist with buy-in across the organization.
  3. Identify the groups and users who will be affected by the change. Begin mapping out the changes needed.
  4. Identify Change Agents/Early Adopters of the system. Early Adopters tend to be committed to establishing an ongoing vision for the future of the system.They will effectively be the pilots of the system and will help uncover lessons learned before proceeding with a full implementation for the remaining parts of the organization.

Stage 2 – Manage the change

  1. Create a plan in order to change successfully. Keep the plan simple and incorporate targets for incremental changes. The plan defines activities and roles that manage and control the change and should include stakeholder support, communications and training. The plan assists with driving awareness to the groups/users that are impacted by the change.
  2. Set up a meeting cadence. Meeting regularly will ensure the appropriate level of communication for all relevant people.
  3. Clearly communicate the benefits of a system change to all stakeholders including the end users.
  4. Generate short term wins to demonstrate momentum. 3 characteristics for good short term wins include: visibility, lack of ambiguity, and a clear relationship to the change effort.
  5. Identify lessons learned and embrace the wins.

Stage 3 – Reinforce the change in behavior

  1. Define how the results will be assessed. Will success be based on qualitative feedback (e.g. user surveys, system usage, reduction in speed to market) or a decreased error rate? Having a clear definition will allow you to better measure success.
  2. Identify any gaps and address as needed. Based on user adoption and feedback, is there an opportunity to fine-tune the system or even abandon any changes?
  3. Celebrate success. Ensure the celebrations includes all parties, including the project team, key stakeholders, early adopters, and system users.

Above all else, communicate often and openly to assist with reducing the human fear factor. Remember, change management is complimentary to your project management. Project management ensures timely delivery of the system whereby change management ensures adoption.