Embracing Change – A Change Management Guide in an Era of Uncertainty
“It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.” – Quote from Niccolò Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’
Niccolò Machiavelli originally published ‘The Prince’ in 1532. Although the work is over four and a half centuries old, the outlook on change management is as relevant today as it was then. Change will always be met with resistance. Employees get used to a certain way of doing things. Even when they see the benefits, they become resistant as it means modifying their behavior and deviating away from the normal way of doing things. Senior management are not immune to this either. Once again, the need to grow and develop might be obvious and the long-term positive impact will be fully understood. However, the transitionary period causes hesitation.
Why Change is Necessary
You have a software solution that has been chugging away for a number of years. Staff have a certain way of doing things and, although the system isn’t optimal, they have gotten used to it. Why would you choose to change it? This is the first question that must be addressed in order to receive company-wide buy-in.
- To enhance business processes. Every company has daily tasks which have become tedious, mindless and repetitive. Software can automate these tasks so they can be repeated at scale, freeing up employees to work on higher value tasks.
- To get a competitive edge. Successful software development leads to greater efficiency and effectiveness. This allows companies to gain a competitive advantage. Here, the opportunity cost of not implementing change must be considered. No one ever won a race by standing still.
- Improve customer/user experience. New software systems make life easier for the user by automating repetitive tasks and reducing the number of steps required to complete them. This makes for a better user experience.
- Because of a wider digital transformation. Software development might be necessary as part of a wider digital transformation effort.
- To increase agility. Your current system mightn’t have the flexibility to adapt to industry trends. Without change, you could fall behind your competitors.
- For greater employee satisfaction. Change might be seen as arduous in the short-term but, in the long-term, it’s for the employee’s benefit as improvements lead to greater effectiveness and job satisfaction.
Common Change Management Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them
Change is almost impossible without collaboration, cooperation and consensus. Some of the most common reasons why change fails is therefore because of a lack of clarity, poor communication and strategic planning. Below, we outline how to avoid these common pitfalls.
1. Maintain Clear Communication Throughout
All change is met with some level of resistance. The best way to overcome this is through clear communication. To receive buy-in from stakeholders, effort must be made to ensure that the motivations behind the new software project are clearly understood. Stakeholders need to know why change is occurring and how it is being rolled out. Any potential difficulties should be highlighted from the outset and all stakeholders should be fully aware of the benefits that will come when the new software is deployed.
ActionPoint has a huge amount of experience in this area. We understand that communication is key and that getting buy-in from all stakeholders is a vital part of any successful software development project. Our best advice is to acknowledge that some people do not like change and act accordingly. Presuming that change and advancement is always welcomed will lead to problems down the line.
2. Strategic Planning
While a new software system is being developed, your company should devise and follow a change management plan. This change management plan involves letting stakeholders know what is expected of them and clearly defining their roles.
Stage gates can be penciled into the journey. These are predetermined milestones where you can access progress so far and re-align future goals if required. This is one of the main reasons behind ActionPoint’s agile development approach. With this approach we have the flexibility to reconfigure and adjust at any stage. This approach is vital for avoiding some of the most common change management pitfalls.
The design of the new software platform should acknowledge and reduce the fears of stakeholders who are resistant to change. The more user-friendly, the gentler the learning curve. Good design, which takes in the needs of the user, enables greater acceptance of new software and significantly shortens the period of change.
At ActionPoint, UX (user experience) and CX (customer experience) is at the forefront when preparing a custom software project. We know from experience that great design reduces resistance to change.
ActionPoint’s Analysis & Design
“Nothing is more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things”.
At ActionPoint, we have helped dozens of companies build custom software and roll it out across their organization. We are acutely aware of the challenges faced and how change management can be one of the biggest blockers to a successful software development process.
Our secret lies in the process. Working closely with you, we guide you through the ideation phase and help you build a structured software development plan. Throughout the entire process we maintain clear channels of communication, with ongoing testing and report documentation. We take your initial concept from R&D to prototype through to deployment of the finished product. We steer a path that minimizes risks and maximizes returns.
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