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Article 4: Preparing Your People for Change – Aligning your Strategy

This next step, aligning your strategy, makes sure that all of the information and planning you built in your first preparation process then lines up and is ready for you to start communicating with your people, identifying development needs and getting them onboard with the project from the start.

Aligning your Strategy

We already know that projects are most likely to fail when the key component of your organisation is overlooked – namely, investing in supporting your people through change, not just your software. In our last article we explored the last stopping point in the Prepare milestone – aligning your strategy.

Building from that contextual discovery work and engagement planning, the next step is to ensure that all your ducks are happily sitting in lovely, neat rows.

This next step, aligning your strategy, makes sure that all of the information and planning you built in your first preparation process then lines up and is ready for you to start communicating with your people, identifying development needs and getting them onboard with the project from the start.

By flattening the change curve, aligning your change strategy to your organisational context and making the process manageable – you are giving your project the highest chance of success from the start.

Prepare: Align your Strategy

We previously used a “making your shopping list” approach and checking that you had really thought about the context of your project and your organisation, delving into how you are going to approach your communication with the wider team and looking at possible stumbling blocks the project may encounter.

Now you need to take that one step further.

Taking what you’ve identified as part of your context analysis and turning it into your changestrategy and people roadmap.

If you are asking people to join you on a project journey, you can’t get them to jump in the car without showing them the route you’re planning to take, the stops along the way and then the place where you are 

ultimately travelling to. Project journeys should not be treated as magical mystery tours – yes, those are fun and there’s a sense of excitement to them, but only when you’re on holiday, not when you’re asking people to work at where you end up. Frankly, that’s just a bit mean!

Look at this from a different perspective. If your boss said to you that they were spending large sums of the organisation’s money on a project which was going to impact the way you work on a day to day basis and bring in changes to all the processes, procedures and outcomes vital to you being able to do your job… but they’re not going to tell you anything else about it. Just a head’s up – everything’s changing for you, but you don’t need to know anything else.

You’d be pretty put out, wouldn’t you? You may even consider your future at that organisation.

So, why, oh why, would you take that same approach with your system change project?

Define it, align it, do it right.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the things you can do to align your strategy and make sure you’re ready to engage with the team.

As with all of these preparation processes, they are very straightforward and easy to follow, but so very essential in building proper, solid foundations on which to build a project and gain the successful outcome you’re looking to get from that money you’re going to be spending.

Recognise need for culture change – Any new system is going to result in new processes, especially if you identified earlier in the process that one of your reasons for embarking on this project is to start following best practice processes for your sector or industry. I imagine that every one of you has heard someone say to you at least once (if not many, many times!) during your career “…because we’ve always done it that way.” 

Before they then stubbornly refuse to do anything differently or more efficiently. Recognising that there must be a change in mindsets, attitudes, and critical behaviours in the way processes are carried out, and that any culture change needs to be handled sympathetically, professionally, and empathetically is key. Showing the team that you recognise that you know there is going to be a marked change but you’re with them all the way will go a long way to showing them you already are anticipating their needs and will support them if they struggle.

Skills and capability assessment – Bit of an obvious one, but so often overlooked and undertaken as a bit of an “after the horse has bolted” scenario, which doesn’t achieve anything. How are you going to identify what skills and capabilities are needed, how are you going to approach analysing training needs and how are you going to make sure that your people get the learning they need to achieve the desired outcome? Again, by being able to show your team that not only have you anticipated there may be training needs, but you have formulated a strategy on how to make sure they actually receive that training will go a long way in building morale in the team and avoiding stumbling blocks or refusal to engage.

Change Ambassadors – So you know that things have to change, you’ve recognised what is going to need to change and how you’ll support the team to do it, you know that there will be training needs and you know how you’ll make sure those needs are met, but of course at this point this is pretty much theoretical. Who is actually going to lead the change from the perspective of your people? Who is going to promote the project amongst the team? Who will be the go-to person to collate questions, feedback, issues and positive messages? You will have assigned individuals to lead to the changes to the system’s workstreams, but aren’t your people the key to the how successful your change will be, so why ignore the need to have their Managers on board to support the change process? Who else would be championing your change and making sure that the organisation’s hard work in preparing and strategizing doesn’t just end up as a waste of paper? Alongside having your Managers on board, key team members, those early adopters can also help lead the way –

Articulate your vision – This is where you are bringing together all that work you’ve done so far. Get your messaging ready – the why, the how, the who, the what – all of it in one place which can capture the essence of your motivation and how you are going to support everyone involved to make sure that your project is a success and that your people’s change support needs are met. This is the “Here it is!” moment. So make it a “Ta dah!” moment, not a “Meh…” moment. Put some flavour into it! Your project is something to be excited about, after all – yes, there is a lot of work to do and a way to go yet, but it’s going to be fantastic when you get there.

You can also then put a massive tick across your project plan – you have prepared your people change plans, and you are about to launch. You’re ready.

By supporting your people from the start of your change program, you will gain the following results:

  • Fully enabled and engaged staff
  • 100% commitment to the new, defined best practice processes and technology
  • Faster Return on Investment
  • More for your money
  • Sustainable adoption and usage of your new technology

There are many drivers to organisational change and in our next article we’ll look at the next milestone – Engage.

Whatever digital transformation path you are looking at undertaking, Embridge Consulting will be able to assist you through your business change management and people development in preparation for digital change.

Don’t ignore the curve. Be ahead of it.

We hope that our series of articles will provide useful direction and information on areas businesses can consider and where investment can be made for the most fruitful return.

Develop your people; develop your digital future.

Past articles in this series:

Preparing your people for change – article 1 – https://embridgeconsulting.com/preparing-your-people-for-change/

Preparing your people for change – managing the curve – article 2 – https://embridgeconsulting.com/preparing-your-people-for-change-managing-the-curve/

Preparing your people for change – rethinking your change – article 3 – https://embridgeconsulting.com/preparing-your-people-for-change-rethinking-your-change/

Embridge Consulting

About Embridge Consulting

Embridge Consulting is a leading boutique systems integration consultancy, specialising in Unit4 ERP and other partners.

Founded in 2009 and headquartered in the UK, the consultancy works with clients in the public sector, nonprofit, professional services, and other sectors to provide a more personal and tailored client experience compared to other, more traditional global systems integrators. Through professional and experienced consulting, best-in-class ERP technology, training, and a commitment to continual client improvement, Embridge is helping clients achieve faster time to value from digital transformation programs, at lower cost and with less risk.

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