Yoav Kutner is a Founder and CEO of Oro Inc., the company behind OroCommerce and OroCRM. Prior, he was the CTO and Co-Founder of Magento.
Change isn’t easy, and implementing new technology is particularly difficult. People tend to dislike change unless they perceive it as personally beneficial. Unfortunately, new technology is rarely viewed that way — even when it is.
What is technology change management?
Change management generally adopts, controls and implements change. Technology change management identifies new technology and then implements it for improved productivity and profitability. It reduces resistance, improves communication and addresses the challenges inherent in major change.
Why do technology change initiatives fail?
Why? Technology project goals are often improperly defined and poorly communicated. This frightens and frustrates employees. Instead of adoption, you get resistance, misalignment across departments and competing interests without common goals.
Five Steps To Successful Technology Change Management
At Oro, we have helped over a hundred companies execute changes in technology and have identified five steps to successful technology change management.
1. Set and communicate clear goals.
Whether you’re introducing e-commerce or any other technology, precisely define and align project goals with company goals.
A well-articulated case demonstrates the leadership, foresight, and determination to complete the project. Goals may address:
• Improving customer experience.
• Streamlining processes.
• Future-proofing the business.
• Consolidating mergers and acquisitions.
• Capturing opportunities.
Once goals are set, they clearly communicate the need for change. Your rollout process should kick off with communication from senior management that clearly explains the need for the new technology, provides an overview of the adoption process and places an emphasis on the positive impact the new technology will have on the company and employees.
2. Build a team.
A technology change management team requires a special combination of skills and personalities. Tap those who possess leadership skills, understand the need for change, and can relate to and reassure others. Spread leadership responsibility horizontally to keep all departments connected, engaged, and productive. Assemble a team that can adapt to changing situations, learn from setbacks, and adjusts quickly. Make the team multigenerational. Older and younger employees approach technology differently, so it’s important to have a blend of both.
3. Define a strategy.
Leaders are often wary of large, transformative changes. The minimum viable product (MVP) approach addresses these fears. This iterative process prioritizes generating value, gathering feedback and adjusting in incremental stages to deliver the desired results. I recommend the MVP approach because it allows a company to test an idea without unnecessary risk, optimize resources and get to market faster. You experience quick wins with minimal investment. This, in turn, enhances the desire for additional changes.
4. Plan for resistance.
Overcoming resistance is key. Use different strategies for internal and external adoption.
• Provide regular training. Create a knowledge base and training videos, host meetings, or introduce an online help manual.
• Reward early adopters. Use gamification, compensation, swag or company perks.
• Treat adoption as ongoing. Host meetings and training sessions, and encourage employees to participate in discussions.
• Solicit employee feedback. Incorporating employee ideas promotes ownership and adoption.
• Offer promotions, discounts, or access to exclusive products and services to reward early adopters.
• Create content such as blog posts, how-to guides, podcasts, case studies, video tutorials and webinars to educate customers.
• Solicit customer feedback through one-on-ones, surveys or discussion forums.
5. Ensure continuous improvement.
Successful technology change management requires an ongoing commitment to continuous improvement. This requires iteration until the desired results are achieved. The MVP approach perfectly supports the process of continuous improvement.
A U.S. pet food distributor we worked with had rapidly expanded through acquisition to become one of the nation’s largest pet supply distributors. They inherited different websites, ERPs, warehouses and disconnected business solutions. This patchwork approach required customers, vendors and sales reps to access multiple systems to place and manage orders, determine pricing or promotion eligibility and manage accounts.
Bringing everything together represented a major technology change to be managed. The MVP approach allowed them to implement change and realize improvements without disrupting operations. They started by eliminating data silos and unifying data from legacy systems.
Throughout change implementation, the company continuously communicated the value of the improvements to employees and customers. Their initial goal was to move 10% of their customers online. However, once customers experienced a smooth, self-service experience that didn’t require multiple applications, adoption grew quickly.
The MVP was the foundation for a continued digital transformation. Subsequent iterations included a mobile app for quick reordering by scanning product codes, B2B2C capabilities so retailers could quickly launch their own integrated storefront, and 3PL support to streamline logistics.
Had the company set out to change its entire digital presence at once, the project would have likely failed. But by taking the continuous improvement approach and iterating an MVP, they successfully managed major technology change with minimal disruption.
Technology constantly changes, but the steps to successful technology change management remain static.