At a certain point, frustration leads to transformation. A powerful new technological upgrade can rapidly improve efficiency and productivity, but changemakers often miss one vital part of any deployment process: gaining early and ongoing support from stakeholders.
McKinsey research indicates that a staggering 70% of change programs fail due to inadequate support from management or a lack of staff buy-in. Implementing new technology to streamline business processes can seem daunting for managers and key stakeholders. The fear of failure or expense can paralyse decision-makers with technological inertia, often at the risk of falling behind competitors and the rest of the industry.
A project manager may know that this tech upgrade will significantly cut resources needed for management, processes and administration, but they’ll still need to put in the work to show employees and leaders exactly how it will be a boon to business. Introducing a new technological platform isn’t just about getting a consensus that the new product is better and shinier — it involves careful research, due diligence, and stakeholder management at every step of the way. Follow these techniques, and you’ll be more likely to gain traction for your vision without seeing the wheels spinning later.
Involving stakeholders in the initial stages of the change process will provide them with a sense of ownership over the problem and a vested interest in the solution. The project manager should communicate early and clearly as they progress through the research, identification, and deployment stages of a tech upgrade, as misperception and loss of momentum can both see these types of projects fall flat. Provide evidence of the problem as well as predicted results from the new tech upgrade, and you’ll be giving stakeholders definitive outcomes to grasp.
Stakeholders may well see a tech change as disruptive to normal operations or an expensive exercise that won’t benefit the business in a tangible way. Managers in particular may bring up doubts and potential obstacles – primarily because it’s part of their job to minimise potential risks for the business. In many cases these doubts arise from direct experience, and their unique perspective may result in an improved process. It’s important to take these comments on board, adapt the implementation strategy if required, and address concerns at the next available opportunity so stakeholders feel they’ve been heard and understood.
A fundamental change to an operating system or process can seem overwhelming and almost impossible when seen in its entirety, so it’s wise to set smaller objectives so the team can effectively track progress and success. For example, a short-term goal may be for the organisation to use aerial imagery for 60% of site visits by the end of June to cut down on costs for the next financial year. Interim goals will not only help to keep implementation on track, but will also provide project managers with quantifiable evidence that can be reported back to stakeholders for assurance.
Stakeholders each have their value within the organisation, and explaining the role and responsibilities that each one will have throughout the change implementation will retain their focus and commitment to the process. Project managers should keep stakeholders informed of any changes to timing, objectives and accountability, and reach out to stakeholders for guidance where relevant to keep them actively involved in the decision-making process.
Almost every new technological solution is bound to have some costs or losses involved in its deployment, which will ultimately be outweighed by the long-term gains of a successful tech upgrade. Rather than skim over these potential costs, it’s wise to explore these with management teams so they can factor in any short-term deficits. This will be a vital part of building trust and transparency between all involved stakeholders.
Employees can naturally feel resistant to a new software system that they feel will affect their ability to complete their work; however, identifying the reasons behind the change can concentrate their energy on the positive effects. Discuss how the new system can improve the customer experience; the organisation’s value to society; the effect on the employee’s hours and responsibilities; and the way freed resources will help to grow the business. One such exercise within a US financial organisation saw a jump in employee motivation measures from 35.4% to 57.1%, as well as a 10% rise in efficiency.
In some rare cases, there will be stakeholders who have set out to make the process difficult due to internal pressure or a simple personality clash. They might directly antagonise to foster mistrust from other stakeholders, or use subtle tactics to delay or undermine the change management process. These problematic stakeholders are rare and differ from those with reasonable resistance to change, but logic and respect will prevail in this unlikely occurrence. One possible solution is to directly and openly involve the stakeholder in finding a solution to the problem. If they follow due process, they’re likely to come to the same conclusion that the project manager did.
When it comes to gaining traction for that next major tech upgrade, you can ensure the path ahead is clear by using clear communication, delegation, and direct stakeholder involvement.