The Art and Science of Technology Change Management

By Jacob Haug

Companies cling to outdated processes because that’s the way they’ve always done things. It’s difficult for organizations to implement new technologies. This is especially true for large organizations with a long history.

However, improvement is a prerequisite for staying competitive in the marketplace. Leadership often knows the company needs to adopt new technologies. Still, fear of the uncertainty that comes along with change is a powerful roadblock.

When we help companies negotiate technology changes, we focus on mitigating risks and easing fears. It can be confusing to change a way your company has operated, especially if that method has been successful for a long time. It’s key to follow a gradual process to make sure you pick the right technology and engage all the key stakeholders as you roll out your new solution.

Select the Right Technology

It’s one thing to recognize that your business processes need to change. It’s quite a different challenge to pick the right technology to meet those needs. There are a range of options for every technology implementation.

In many cases, there will be several competing products that could potentially meet your needs. Evaluating these various options is a matter of reading the specifications and technical documentation, instead of just buying what the sales and marketing documents say. Once you’ve narrowed your search, you should talk to other companies similar to yours that are already using the product. See how they’re implementing it and what challenges they’re facing. Benchmarking in this way is a smart move to make sure you’ve picked the right solution.

Pre-packaged solutions won’t always fit your business needs. It’s worth considering custom software development in these cases. If you work with an experienced software development team, you’ll find they can help you scope out the project and see if custom development is a viable solution to meet all your criteria.

Get Input from All Business Units

As you’re investigating and choosing technologies to implement, you’ll want to get input from all business units throughout the process. Also, engage employees at various levels throughout the company to get a sense for how their jobs will be affected by the new technology. Bringing all the stakeholders together early and making them feel involved in the decision process is critical to successful change management. This will help make sure the new technology is aligned with everyone’s needs and you have buy-in from all parties.

Run a Pilot Project

Many technology solutions will allow you to conduct a risk-free trial of their software. If this is an option, you should take it. Involve high-level management in the pilot project to see the software’s functionality and how it will impact your bottom line.

If there’s not a free trial, see if you can negotiate a short term license so you can test the product without taking on the risk of a long term agreement. If you’re going with a custom-developed solution, encourage your software developer to use an agile methodology and share a minimum viable product with you for early testing.

Make It About People

Technology changes quickly, but people don’t. In order to convince people that a change is good and necessary for the company, you’ll want to focus on the benefits of the technology, not its features. Many companies fall into the trap of explaining the new technology’s functionality when what they really need to tell their employees is that it will save time, create opportunities for advancement, or automate a mundane task.

The key here is communication. Be sure to be honest with your team. You can share the setbacks you’re having. However, be sure to maintain your confidence that a technology change will help everyone be happier and more productive.

Train Well & Rollout Gradually

In the beginning of rolling out your new technology you’ll want to focus on small wins. Begin with a small group of intro users and train them well. Go slow and take note of anything that was confusing or challenging, so you can do better with the next group you train. Give this first group a few early wins to boost morale and encourage adoption.

As you develop your training and onboarding documents, be sure to keep them in a centralized place. Consider using screenshares and videos to make the onboarding process easier and more standardized.

Conclusion

Change is a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity. Implementing a new technology can open doors for greater efficiency, effectiveness, and improving the bottom line. Just make sure to focus on the people who will be handling the change. Communicate, train well, and focus on the benefits they’ll see from using the new technology.