Implementation is one thing, but adoption is another story. Effective end-user adoption is the primary factor of success in a Cloud implementation project, and a strong change management strategy is the key to avoiding the challenges in cloud adoption. Learn how you can develop a strategy for change management throughout your project lifecycle that will help get your users on board with your Cloud implementation.
Understand the Impacts
It’s crucial to have effective leaders that actively and visibly support the change that you are trying to implement. You’ll need your leaders to be engaged in the project and committed to making it work. If you can show your leaders a clear vision for the future and how your company will benefit from Cloud, they can get behind your project and spread the message of support to others. If your employees see their leaders supporting the project, they will be more likely to support it as well.
You’ll also need to cater to your employees. They all want to know, “What’s in it for me?” In order to answer this question for them, you’ll need to identify and clearly articulate how the new system will benefit them and add value to their roles. Highlight new features and functions within the system that will help them. You can also share other success stories and provide additional learning opportunities for them when necessary.
Finally, it’s important to understand the organizational impacts that Cloud will have. Identify what impacts the project will have on the overall business and then create and align responsibilities with processes. You’ll also want to identify wins and challenges in cloud adoption that your organization might face throughout the project.
Develop a Change Program
To handle the impacts of your Cloud implementation, you’ll need to develop a Change Program that lays the foundation for how the project will go. There are five steps that you need to take in order to implement a successful Change Program:
- Articulate the need for change. You need to show people why change is necessary. It’s important to acknowledge both the potential benefits and the challenges of the project and how you plan to address them.
- Set a path for change. Make the project a reality by creating a solid plan. This will make your leaders take the project seriously and give people a sense of accountability.
- Implement the change. After making a plan and assigning tasks, get to work—take action and get your project off the ground.
- Assess and modify the implementation. Track your progress and make changes throughout the project when necessary. The willingness to adapt increases your likelihood for success.
- Communicate your progress. You’ll need to consistently communicate with your team and employees. Address both successes and challenges. The more transparent you are, the more people will trust your process and the project.
Know the Stages of Commitment
There are different stages of commitment that your stakeholders will move through during the duration of your Cloud implementation. Company leaders, directors/managers, and end users will move at different paces, but the stages remain the same for everyone.
- Awareness. This is the most basic level that occurs when someone is told that change is coming.
- Understanding. This comes with the acceptance of the nature and intent of the change.
- Buy-in. This occurs when stakeholders begin to test new concepts and begin to articulate a commitment to the goal.
- Commitment. This final stage occurs when the change is accepted as the norm and stakeholders take personal ownership over the change.
The stages typically move along quickest for the company’s leaders, followed a little later by directors and managers, and finally followed by end users. End users might not be fully committed until after go-live, but that’s completely normal. As long as they are beginning to buy into the project around the time of go-live, you’re on track.
Identify Your Stakeholders
Before you can engage stakeholders, you must first identify them. When identifying stakeholders, you’ll need to consider roles throughout the organization that your Cloud implementation will affect. From there, you’ll identify who is a high-, medium-, and low-impact individual. It could be beneficial to your implementation if you turn some of your high-impact individuals into your sponsors and change agents during your project.
Your sponsors are employees who align with change initiatives, influence their colleagues, and are consistently energetic and enthusiastic about the prospect for change. They will promote change initiative to champions within your organization and will help drive change within your organization. You should seek at least one sponsor within each stakeholder team and corporate group.
Change agents are employees who also align with change initiatives and are enthusiastic about the prospect for change, but who also have day-to-day interaction with the impacted team. They will encourage potential champions to take an active leadership role. You should seek two or three potential change agents in each stakeholder team and corporate group. It is preferable to have potential champions in all key groups.
You’ll also need to be aware of engagement targets, who are employees that indicate disagreement with most of the change initiatives. They are unenthusiastic about change and are consistently and overtly negative about issues or concerns. The issue is that they also have the ability to influence their colleagues. You’ll need to actively recognize and reach out to these engagement targets in order to avoid detraction from the change initiative. It will also be beneficial to you to respond quickly to the feedback they raise. Engagement targets are inevitable with any big implementation project, but you can use your champions, change agents and sponsors to reach out to them and keep your implementation on track. If you can show them how the implementation will benefit them, you can dispute some of their doubts.
Plan Your Communication
After you identify your stakeholders, you have to identify key messages, decide on the timing and delivery, and prepare and socialize a plan. Communication is key during an implementation project. In order to have successful communication, your messages need to build awareness, enhance understanding, drive buy-in, and establish commitment.
- Build awareness by communicating the vision and the benefits of change along with the scope and timeline of the project. You can do this through team briefings or emails.
- Enhance understanding by answering the question of “What’s in it for me?” for your employees, providing motivational messages, and “selling” your project to the team.
- Drive buy-in by getting others to accept a new, better way of doing things and by providing support during go-live. You can do this by providing training, learning labs, FAQs, and fun initiatives like go-live countdown communications.
- Establish commitment by reinforcing desired behaviors and celebrating successes and wins. You’ll want to solicit feedback and address concerns while also communicating success stories.
Key messages revolve around topics like awareness, updates, training, testing, and more. Identifying the key messages ties in with the timing and delivery because you’ll need to decide on not only the purpose and content of the message, but who it needs to be sent out to based on the high-, medium-, and low-impact stakeholders you’ve identified.
The timing of your messages will depend on the size of the change, projected impact, and organizational readiness. You’ll need to decide whether you want to deliver your messages all at once or in smaller components. Finally, you’ll need to choose a delivery method—face-to-face, push, or pull.
To wrap it all up, prepare and socialize a complete plan. A complete communications plan will include who the stakeholders are, what the key messages are, when messages should be delivered, where the message delivery will take place, and how the messages will be sent.
You may need to repeat the same message throughout the duration of the implementation. Messages sink in more after hearing it multiple times. As messages sink in, people will begin to take them more seriously and begin to take ownership and action regarding the messages. Effective communication can lead to successful implementation and adoption.
For more information about how you can develop a successful plan for change management throughout your Cloud implementation and ultimately avoid the challenges in cloud adoption, check out the full presentation.
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