One hundred days’ post-project change management boosts user adoption, success

Johannesburg, 22 Jun 2022
The CRM Team Press Office
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Mark James, head of training, The CRM Team
Mark James, head of training, The CRM Team

Post-project change management is often neglected, which frequently causes the failure of new system implementations. This is according to Mark James, head of Training and User Adoption at The CRM Team, who was addressing a webinar: "Adapting to Change: User Adoption & Technology" hosted by The CRM Team in partnership with ITWeb.

James said effective change management and training improved user adoption of new systems, and noted user adoption monitoring and user encouragement should continue for 100 days after a new implementation in order to drive employee acceptance.

“Most employees are comfortable with what they know; they tend to stay locked into a routine and will continue to do the same things over and over,” James said. “This doesn’t bode well in a world of systems development and implementation – lack of user adoption is one of the leading causes of systems implementation failure today.

"Implementing a new system is nothing like the movie Field of Dreams – in which, if you build it, they will come. There is no guarantee that ‘they will come’ and start using the system. We need to manage the user adoption process.”

James said: “A systems implementation can fail dismally despite the best systems money can buy and the best training. If left unchecked, your own people can cripple the very project that was meant to make their lives easier. Most employees don’t want to use new technology rolled out by their organisation and you must prepare for these challenges. Resistance to change is a normal, natural human behaviour that simply needs to be managed.”

Preparing for change

James said key factors in preparing to implement a new project include clearly defining the vision for the project and obtaining proactive support from leadership. “CEOs matter – their sponsorship is crucial for the success of the project and the change management effort,” he said. He noted that in addition to the support of CEOs, project sponsors such as senior management and ‘superheroes’ within departments also helped drive successful change management.

To confirm whether a user change management programme is needed before rolling out a new project, James said Prosci change management solutions recommended focusing on the 4Ps – project, purpose, particulars and people.

“Take project leaders, teams, senior managers and sponsors through the process of looking at the 4Ps – identify the project name, list the goals and outcomes the project is trying to achieve, identify the particulars of what will be changing in the organisation, and finally, identify the people within the organisation who will have to change the way they work as a result of the project,” James said. “Next, create the context for the project, and make the connection between the 4Ps. If we do not identify who will be impacted and manage change, we won’t achieve the purpose and ROI of the project. The next stop is positioning the change: once we have identified who will be impacted, we will be able to create change management programmes for them.”

Driving user adoption

James said: “It is necessary to assemble the team, define the strategy and scenarios, assess overall organisational readiness, build the plan and onboard employees. Very often, people put a lot of effort into the stages preceding go-live, and the moment they go live they believe their job has ended, but success depends on ongoing efforts.”

The CRM Team’s user adoption framework is divided into three phases: envisioning, onboarding and driving value, he said.

“In phase one, you assemble your team, define the business strategy and determine readiness. Readiness is the willingness and preparedness of the individuals within the organisation to move to the new system. Organisations need to anticipate resistance, plan ahead and overcome it. Identify scenarios to allow teams to understand how the system can help them achieve more and prioritise which ones you should focus on to help drive change. Capture each expected business value of your system along with the KPIs and targets for the system.”

In phase two, the organisation should work with key stakeholders to build and launch the adoption plan, prepare the environment and launch the plan to early adopters, using feedback from early adopters to adjust the plan where necessary, he said.

“To drive awareness, identify and deploy a variety of communication tactics to get the message across, incorporating various scenarios and answering ‘what’s in it for me’ and engaging executive sponsors to directly drive the launch. Ensure that staff are considered when putting together the communication strategy.”

He recommended raising awareness through e-mail, portals, newsletters and teaser videos to get staff excited about the solution, using success to demonstrate the effectiveness and impact of the new system.

“The most important measure of success is user adoption, therefore, in phase three, you should monitor end-user adoption, measure and report usage and encourage ongoing engagement with the new system.”

He noted that The CRM Team believes the ADKAR model is ideal for driving change. ADKAR is an acronym for: Awareness – addressing what is happening and why; desire – addressing what’s in it for us; knowledge – teaching users to use the system; ability – identifying ‘champions’ to help employees use the system successfully; and reinforcement – the final stage in the strategy, focusing on reinforcing good behaviour and reflecting on progress in a 100-day journey.

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