Change Is Good

Here are tips for simplifying your technology-driven change-management initiatives.

By Steve Smith

In today’s on-demand world, the need for companies to deliver instantaneous results is a must-have. Customers’ expectations and behaviors are changing rapidly. As a result, companies must modernize transportation and logistics processes in order to increase efficiency and keep up with competitive businesses.

To do so, they are turning to technological advancements, such as the internet of things (IoT), as a panacea. But the successful adoption and implementation of technology does not always come easily. In fact, McKinsey reported that 70 percent of all transformations fail, citing lack of employee engagement and inadequate management support as the top reasons.

With worldwide spending on digital transformation technologies expected to grow 16.8 percent to $1.3 trillion in 2018, implementation strategies should be at the forefront of planning. Failing to consider how to best manage the change before embarking on a project is equivalent to ignoring what is potentially the biggest obstacle.

Managing Change

The most important aspect of any change-management model is thorough planning and communication. Once your company decides to implement new technology, it is imperative to develop a plan that takes into consideration the long-term strategic business goals. In this planning stage, be sure to talk through worst case scenarios, likely and unlikely obstacles, and potential risks. This will prepare you for disruptions and help prevent disaster.

The following tips can guide you through some common change-management pitfalls and help make your next digital implementation initiative a success.

Tip 1: Understand The Why of Change – Change for the sake of change is neither strategic nor productive. The most important questions to ask yourself are the ones that get to the root of why this change is happening. Why are you applying this technology? What is driving this change? Are there improvements that can be made to current processes and methods? What goals are you aiming to meet with this change?

A clear understanding of the reasons behind any change will help to determine if you are truly increasing efficiency and value, or just layering new technology over an old, ineffective process. Beyond your processes, it’s important to consider why each group of stakeholders in your company, from drivers to your IT department, needs this change to understand how to implement it.

Tip 2: Establish a Baseline, Define Success and Manage Clear Expectations – Hoping for the best with a technological change is not enough. Once you understand why change is necessary, determine where you would like to see improvement and what success looks like. Identify key performance indicators for areas of improvement, such as time in transit or on-time pickups, and establish a baseline. Measurement of these metrics should be an ongoing activity throughout the implementation process.

Defining success for employees is just as important for the change management process as it is for day-to-day tasks. A Gallup poll found that only 33 percent of U.S. workers are engaged at work, due to sub-par communication and unclear expectations. Lack of employee engagement leads to lower productivity and lower profits for businesses overall.

Clearly communicate success metrics and establish what change looks like for each role. By setting meaningful milestones, employees know how and when to measure progress. When a milestone is reached, encourage employees to continue performing by celebrating. This will ideally motivate your workforce to continue to meet those measures of success.

Tip 3: Prepare for Mixed Reactions – Aside from understanding the needs of stakeholders and setting clear expectations at all levels, leaders must also anticipate how each group will respond to the change. For example, new technology that involves artificial intelligence (AI) and automation can create anxiety among employees who may believe that the increased efficiency will result in them losing their job. They may also worry that these changes will result in more work due to ramp up and troubleshooting.

To ensure a successful implementation, connect with employees most affected by the changes to identify which aspects might be met with resistance and reluctance. Proactively involving employees and giving them the chance to offer input and get used to the idea of change before it happens makes the entire process more inclusive.

Tip 4: Prioritize Training and Plan for More Training Than You Think You Need – One of the most crucial aspects of any change management plan is training. In order to have employees feel comfortable and successfully adopt new technology, it is imperative to train them for proficiency before it even goes live.

An added benefit of training early and often is catching potential issues and solving them ahead of time. Training does not end when the new technology is online. As others adopt the technology or as time goes on, providing additional training and refreshers helps keep employees comfortable and using it to their full potential. This, along with other support tools, empowers employees to handle issues as they occur.

Tip 5: Look past the finish line – Change should not happen all at once. Instead, the process should reflect long-term effort in order to achieve lasting effects, like reduced cost and increased efficiency. Your change management plan should include ongoing initiatives, such as checking in often with stakeholders, requesting feedback on how the implemented technology impacts employees’ work and measuring performance metrics.

Armed with this feedback, you’re able to make adjustments as needed. Change is a process that can be refined and reevaluated as time goes on. Of utmost importance is sustained communication with all those involved.

Because streamlined, efficient transportation and logistics processes are necessary in today’s market, strategic change management and planning are vital to ensuring a smooth transition. Keeping end-users and those impacted by the implementation of new technology in mind can help you avoid unnecessary barriers to success. As with any other business activity, proactive planning and effective communication are the cornerstone to a successful rollout.

Steve Smith is vice president of Strategic Industries at ClickSoftware. Smith has more than 20 years of experience defining and delivering mobile workforce management solutions covering vertical markets that include telecommunications, utilities, insurance, home services, medical equipment, capital equipment, and oil and gas operations. He helps service organizations to optimize the use of their field resources, improve operational awareness, streamline process and establish controls while ensuring flexibility and variability are enabled within their operations. Prior to his current role as VP, strategic verticals, he managed ClickSoftware’s global solution consulting team exposing the benefits of MWFM to new users and helping increase the value delivered to existing users across the globe.