Behaviour is at the forefront of large system implementation according to Bizmod MD Seugnet van den Berg. “Behavioural interventions are vital for the successful implementation of a new system,’ says Bizmod MD Seugnet van den Berg. “People often stick within their comfort zones and focus on the logistical, analytical and technical details of the implementation, but if users have not made the transition to the new system in the way they think, feel and behave, then the system won’t be utilised as it is intended to be.”

Change management, is the process that should run parallel to any new system integration. It traditionally refers to the course of action, tools and techniques used to manage the people side, in particular their behaviour. “If the behaviour of employees who are expected to adopt and apply the new technology and systems is not guided and coached, the overall business outcome will not be possible,” says van den Berg.

She says that the days of Change Management being viewed as a light-weight option focussing on communication are long gone. An effective Change Management solution requires firm and tangible deliverables that integrate into the system implementation and the overall objectives.

Depending on the nature and scope of a project the Change Management approach will consist of a range of different elements with key deliverables. Van den Berg points out that there are however four mandatory Change Management elements that are core to any change initiative, these are – stakeholder management, communication, change impact management and training.

  • Stakeholders: Understanding who and where all the relevant stakeholders are is very important so as to ensure cooperation and mitigate delays in achieving other elements of the change management process. Identifying, analysing and prioritising the stakeholders means that the change management efforts are focused at the right people.
  • Communication: Communication must be consistent and timeous. End users need to be prepared, confident and know what is required from them. Communicating intensively and interacting frequently with stakeholder groups that include – the vendor office, logistics, sponsors, the project team, buyers and finance is integral to the overall success of the change management process. At the same time, it is important to remember to keep any other influencers informed of the processes.
  • Change impact management: Stakeholders need to understand, buy-into and eventually adopt the new way of working. The essentials in change impact management are:

o Determining which role players, affected by the project will be impacted most by the change and in which way.
o Getting these role players to understand what they have to stop doing, start doing and continue doing in the same way.
o Designing role based interventions that will equip them at a cognitive, emotive and skills level for the key changes.
o Conduct role clarification sessions and give input into the role mapping exercises that the technology partner will be undertaking. This ensures that everyone has the right access to the system and the relevant reports when the project goes live.
o Determine if the change management resources will be a process based deployment or regional deployment. In most cases Van den Berg says that a process based approach is recommended as this provides more credibility.

  • Training: A compromised training intervention can lead to lower user adoption and negative perceptions about the new project. Implementing a training initiative approach delivers results that include user adoption vastly increasing and a cost saving on re-training.

Change does not happen in isolation but rather in an environment that influences how the changes are dealt with. “Change always causes unease and nervousness”, says van den Berg, “inevitably people think, do or feel differently. That is why it is imperative to understand what the changes will be and how people will react.”

Published on the Skills portal