Build Change Management Success on These Five Pillars

From stakeholder buy-in to gamification, here’s how to bring about digital transformation in your organization

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In digital transformation initiatives, the greater the rate of end-user adoption, the greater the organizational impact. According to Patrice Scott, senior manager of field engagement for DocuSign University, “Every stakeholder must adopt the solution in order for the organization to realize the value.”

In order to create a path to digital adoption, change leaders should focus on the five pillars of change management success: policy change, marketing & communications, employee experience, incentives and promotions, and legacy channels.

  1. Policy changes

To drive internal alignment at the start of the change initiative, change leaders need to create a corporate policy that highlights the value of the solution. An effective policy starts by establishing roles and responsibilities for all stakeholders and follows by defining measurable goals and accountability. Getting the details right at this stage will avoid conflicts later on during the technology implementation. 

When creating a policy, the first step is to ensure everyone understands the solution’s capabilities and limitations. “A technology solution can facilitate and improve business processes, but it doesn’t define the business process for you,” explained Jerome Silverman, enterprise customer success manager at DocuSign. “And while it will improve workforce productivity, it won’t fix poor performers — that’s a people-management issue.”

  1. Marketing & communications

Early on in the initiative, create a “Center of Excellence” that includes representatives from end-users, lines of business, plus IT and executives. This group will help to develop adoption strategies and messaging, making them valuable internal evangelists throughout the change initiative.

To drive internal awareness of the solution’s benefits and expected stakeholder behaviors, business leaders should develop timely, targeted messages around the initiative’s value propositions, timeline, and processes.

Introduce the change initiative with an organization-wide communication from the executive sponsor. This will reinforce that the solution has executive buy-in and that adoption is expected by upper management. In these communications, include specific benefits and features that will make employees more effective. After these initial communications, provide a regular cadence of updates on progress, key metrics, and business outcomes.

Leaders can even use the technology solution as a communication channel for the change initiative, helping to demonstrate its value.

  1. Employee experience

Organizations should leverage their Center of Excellence to guide the solution design, training and documentation, helping to align on key metrics and tailor the solution to existing business processes.

As a next step in ensuring a positive employee experience and ultimately driving adoption, change leaders must create a comprehensive training program. Training should not be one-size-fits-all — instead, develop role-based sessions that address different use cases. Avoid a lecture format and allow trainees to be hands-on with the solution. Schedule initial training at the go-live date, then offer retraining sessions as new product features and integrations become available.

  1. Incentives & promotions

Change management leaders can encourage the adoption of the new solution and process through positive and constructive feedback. For example, gamification, contests, and rewards can all be used to incentivize employees. Another effective approach is to start an internal newsletter that recognizes employees with the highest usage.

In addition, executive sponsors can reach out to non-adopters to encourage a behavioral change or even reassign their backlogged work. They also should lead by example, using reports to share updates on the change initiative during leadership meetings.

  1. Eliminating legacy solutions

Finally, reduce or potentially eliminate the use of legacy systems in order to drive adoption of the new solution. To achieve this, organizations can build a deprecation strategy and timeline and then communicate it to employees.

As the new technology rollout continues, change leaders should schedule weekly, monthly, or quarterly check-ins to track adoption and compare legacy solution usage. Based on these metrics, they can then adjust the strategy to deprecate legacy solutions as needed.

A key part of any change management strategy is collecting stakeholder feedback. Whether it’s a survey, brown bag lunch meeting, or the use of an in-product form, employees should be able to easily submit feedback, request features, and suggest workflow updates for the new solution. The Center of Excellence can then use these insights to optimize the change management strategy.

Committing to successful change management

Implementing a new technology requires careful planning and internal alignment from executives all the way down to end-users. Without a comprehensive change management strategy, an organization’s technology investment could be at risk.

By building the foundation for a seamless transition, stakeholders will embrace digital transformation, helping organizations to accelerate business outcomes and drive long-term ROI.

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