You know that one bad habit? Biting your nails, or hitting snooze one too many times in the morning – that one thing you elect to resolve every New Year’s. You hear it from experts everywhere: the key to breaking a bad habit isn’t saying you’re going to break a bad habit; a major key is replacing that habit with a new habit so that you can realize sustained results.
I was having a conversation the other day about the lack of user adoption for IT projects across multiple business functions. The client couldn’t quite understand why people weren’t using the new systems that were deployed on time and under budget.
I asked the question: What is the real desired goal of these projects? On time delivery OR adoption of the new system and processes? When I reviewed the Project Management Office (PMO) project plan template for IT project delivery, I quickly noticed, there were no Organizational Change Management (OCM) activities within the plan. They had no plan for helping people break their old habits and replace them with new ones. In essence, they were missing critical components, that would ensure lasting change and enhance value realization.
Let’s say your organization picks a new top-of-the-line system to improve efficiencies and processes. It’s flashy, digital, and has dashboard and analytics capabilities. It’s the latest trend in your industry, similar to a bold New Year’s Eve proclamation. Your IT PMO function pulls together a robust project plan, incorporating resources, activities, durations, and deadlines, with a lot of time and money invested to deliver the new product. So why does the project fail, and nobody uses the new system? I mean, it was delivered on time and on budget, right? And why, a year or two later when you decide to change the system (or realize that you didn’t kick the old habit) and follow the same blueprint as before, does the project still fail?
An IT project plan without OCM activities and tasks throughout, doesn’t manage the behavioral change or mindset shift required for people to successfully adopt a new system, process, or structural change. In other words, it won’t replace the bad habit. A new habit makes the change stick. In order to increase the chances of long term adoption and increased ROI, you must reset behaviors leveraging a robust OCM strategy.
Unfortunately, OCM is often overlooked or reduced to simply a go-live email or just-in-time training. But just as changing your habits takes time, so does behavioral change and adoption resulting from effective OCM. For example, studies show true adoption and efficiency gains from implementing a major enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can average six months. For people to truly reset – or change behaviors – and adopt a new system or way of working, you must incorporate focused OCM activities that are strategic and consistent over time.
Here are three foundational areas of focus that must be achieved to ensure you can benefit from OCM activities used to replace your company’s bad habits during your next IT implementation:
Leadership Engagement and Ownership are a Must
It’s not uncommon for business and IT leaders to have a mentality of “if we build it, they will come”. It’s also proven that many IT programs fail due to a lack of leadership engagement. Leaders at all levels must be visible and engaged, and they must demonstrate the behavioral change they seek from their employees. OCM incorporates strategic, creative, and tactical ways to help leaders engage and communicate with their organizations at appropriate times throughout the tenure of the program.
Dig Into the Real Impacts
To fully understand the levers needed to change behavior, you must dig into the true business impacts, which typically vary by function and role. You have to know the type of change required (People, Process or Technology); who is affected by the change; the criticality and complexity of changes; requirements for change; and the value of change – what happens if change doesn’t occur?
Fully understanding this key information will help quantify the magnitude of change and kick start key activities within OCM Strategy and approach such as leadership and stakeholder engagement, change champion identification and network, communications and engagement, curriculum development, and role-based learning.
Adopt an All-In Mentality
Behavioral change is hard, but where’s the value in spending millions of dollars on a system that nobody will use? The business must align with IT and commit resources dedicated 100 percent to the project. From an OCM perspective, these resources become the face of the program. They help define the impacts that enable the OCM team to create the best approach for change adoption. They help spread appropriate messaging through the organization and serve as champions to ensure alignment between the project and the business.
Because they understand the business, system use cases, technology, and impacts, they become subject matter experts during learning creation and delivery, and once the project ends, they become the go-to resources for knowledge and sustainability. Commit those resources early and support their participation for greater gains down the road.