The measure of intelligence is the ability to change. – Albert Einstein
Change management is one of the most difficult challenges an organization faces. It stokes apprehension of the unknown and a resistance to a potential workload increase without the balanced benefit of end-state upsides. How organizational leaders introduce change dramatically impacts its success. This applies to everyone who directly impacts change, from the over-arching corporate vision, down to systematic processes, change is more successful when initiated from the top with as much transparency as possible to the broader team.
It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change. – Charles Darwin
AFS Technologies has been partnering with consumer goods companies for over 30 years to provide purpose-built solutions that drive efficiency and optimization in support of growth. Our lengthy experience has uncovered a few basic principles that can have a dramatic impact on the success of your software implementation:
1. Choose your technology partner with due diligence. Understand their culture, values and management style and chose the fit that most closely aligns to your organization. Make use of the collaboration process, whether it is a formal or informal RFP, to ask questions, not just about the technology they are offering you, but also about their organizations culture and vision.
2. Formerly identify a project team. These will be the members of your broader team who will be responsible for supporting the varying requirements through the design, implementation, and post go-live phases of the project:
• Functional leads. Member(s) from each impacted business team who can answer critical business questions during the design and implementation phase in a timely manner.
• Super-users/process champions. Members whose technical savvy combined with subject matter expertise in their function will help support the field adaptation of the tool at go-live. These users can become the primary contacts to elevate issues to the project lead and should be the first source of inquiry when the field team has a question or concern.
• System Administrator. During and post-implementation, this key member of your team will act as a primary liaison between your organization and your technology partner to ensure the solution responds to your businesses’ requirements as anticipated.
3. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Provide an outline of the project to the broader team, include the rationale to support it, the anticipated result, and the ask of all teams throughout the process; sales, finance, marketing, operations, supply chain. The more your people understand the “why?”, the intention of the change, and specifically the ultimate benefits to the organization and themselves that will be realized through the change efforts, the more likely they are to support it and help ensure its ultimate success.
4. Be prepared for the long haul. An implementation can feel like a long process and your team may become disengaged at various stages or may set unrealistic expectations on timelines. Through ongoing communication with the broader organization, you can manage expectations and foster a collaborative environment where your team is able to quickly identify any concerns.
5. Consider go-live the beginning, not the end goal. By go-live, you should have designed processes and workflows that will most efficiently and effectively support your trade management, but like any other processes, these will need to be reviewed on an ongoing basis to drive efficiencies and support trade spend effectiveness. Go-live is where ‘opportunity meets effort’ and your teams can begin to realize the significant gains the solution can drive.
In the end, change is an inevitable component of business. Understanding the ways in which your organization can minimize risk and maximize success is one of the many benefits AFS Technologies can offer their partners throughout the process.
Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely. – Albert Einstein