Silverside is working with change management and user adoption for more than a decade. From our experience, many organizations are struggling with these processes when a new technology is being introduced in the company. The risk of a badly managed change and user adoption strategy is high without the right expertise and methodology. Despite the fact that many organizations have problems and face difficulties, it is not so common to have customers or affiliates that are open to talking about their struggles and realities when things do not go in the right direction.
But telling the truth, with awareness, is the first step to change. That’s why Silverside presents this anonymous Q&A done with one of our customers. This can be an example and source of inspiration for another company that identifies in this specific organization. Mark, the IT manager, shared with our marketing team the real, untold story about how change management is being underestimated and unexploited by his company, causing many troubles in their process of change towards Office 365.
Q: Can you tell us something about yourself?
A: So, I am an IT manager for a company in the Netherlands, working there for close to 5 years now.
Q: During your working experience as IT manager, when did you first encounter change management or user adoption?
A: Apparently you are supposed to know about change management from the technical point of view, but not really. Mostly it depends on your vision and gut feelings, but also on the management vision about it. They take decisions, so they have to be on board first. Change management is something that does not really incorporate revenue. We try as IT, but it is pretty much unrealistic. The main problem is that when projects around change management are running, the people at the head of the management always think they invented the wheel, but actually, there’s no strategy at all.
Q: Which kind of projects are running now involving change management in your company?
A: Yes, so for now what we have is a migration to Office 365. I am involved in this project more on the communication side, I am an intermediate. But also my role is to help and advise the technicians involved in the potential risks or issues we could encounter. This project is not the only one, we have many other projects running now and more will start soon. So we have the feeling that we are only doing projects and nothing related to the real business.
Q: This issue is related to time, right? Do you feel that time is one of the main barriers also to change management?
A: Yes, because besides your real job and official role in the company, you are also involved in different projects… and that’s why important things like change management are underestimated and left behind. And this is really bad, above all when the top level management does not understand the importance of having and implementing a good change management strategy. And when this happens in a company, that’s really frustrating.
Q: Oh yes, I totally understand it… So, what is your vision on change management?
A: From my point of view, business-wise, any change management project should be welcome. But unfortunately, this is not the vision of this company and there is no way I can make the top management understand this. I have tried several times, but it has always been a NO.
Q: And do you have any idea of the reason why the top management do not understand the importance of change management and refuses to take it into account?
A: I really think there is no specific reason, they just don’t get it, or don’t want to get it. Let’s say it is lack of knowledge, competence, and commitment. So, the thing is that if the directions do not come from the Board of Directors, it’s like moving mountains, it is useless. One person alone cannot go on with a change management strategy, it is going nowhere if there is no involvement of a team and a good strategy that engages everyone in the company, from the employees to the top managers. I am just being frank.
Q: So, from your words, I can understand that the barriers to change management are time, the lack of knowledge and capacity to understand the importance of the topic of the top management and Board of Directors, but also the lack of a proper change management strategy, right?
A: Yes… this is why many projects fail also, due to these reasons… and things have to change first on a corporate level, and only then the whole company can be involved in large-scale projects, like moving to Office 365, for an example. But if the top managers do not embed a proper change management strategy and user adoption strategy in the project, then how can you pretend that from the next day after we moved there won’t be problems all around the company? The negative consequences on users and business will be huge…
Q: So, you are also saying that a change in the culture of the whole company and corporate decisions are needed?
A: Definitely, if we want to go on with the business, be competitive and have success these days. From the management perspective, IT is just about tools, laptops, software and solve technical problems. But this is not correct. IT is about the tools, but also about the users, how to use the tools, how users can work with the tools, and thus change management and user adoption.
Q: And from your practical experience in the field, which kind of difficulties have you encountered in a change management process?
A: Yes, two words: corporate decisions. The point is not whether or not to move to Office 365, the point is the way we are going to do so. Just saying that we are moving and everything’s going to be more beautiful, faster and easier… it’s not true! It can be, but not from the day after the migration, it takes time and effort. And to be successful you need more than a technical migration. You need a strategy, a plan, you need to inform everybody, you need to communicate what will change for users, you need to train them, offer support and so on… and it doesn’t take a week, there are so many things to consider…
Q: In your opinion, what do you need to implement a good change management strategy when it comes to IT?
A: Well a good strategy for sure, but also support and training for end-users. We should also not forget about the competences and knowledge of the management level, that’s also essential. You also need the right people to implement the strategy in all its aspects. I don’t have the magic formula for change management with Office 365 or whatever technology, but I certainly know how NOT to run a change management strategy or migration…
Q: At the light of what you experienced in these years, which kind of suggestions would you give to managers and professionals that are approaching change management projects in their companies?
A: In general, I think that every company should be aware of the knowledge and capabilities that are onboard and if you use them, you are going to move forward. But if you are not using the expertise and knowledge of your employees, people are going to lose interest and slowly you are going to ruin the company. Great ideas, expertise, business cases from past experiences, everything can help if managers consider and listen to their employees as useful resources. That’s why communication is so important.
Q: Well, this was a very interesting story, basically it tells what other companies are not willing to tell the world. But I am sure many organizations will identify with the story of your company and your position in particular. Change management is such a complex and challenging topic for organizations and the struggles are multiple and real. Being aware of the limits, issues and wasted opportunities is the first step to try to do better and going in the right direction.
A: Yes, this is the untold story about change management in real life. Not in every company change management is brilliant and successfully implemented. On the contrary, the story of my company represents one of many other companies in the same situation that need to do something concrete about it. Change management is a great concept, and if applied properly, it can help the organization concretely by saving time, money and reach a positive rate of user adoption. But as I said before, you need the right expertise, knowledge, capacities, strategy, planning, and communication, if you really want to make it a success.
Mark told Silverside the story of how his company is not dealing with change management, with all the wasted opportunities and issues that this behavior is causing. Lack of expertise and knowledge in management, lack of a proper strategy and unused employees’ knowledge and potentialities, are causing serious problems for Mark’s company. The negative impacts regard the business, but also the relationship between employees and the management level.
If you identify with Mark’s story, if you felt familiar with what he told us, or if, while reading the Q&A you thought “this is so true”, then most probably you are struggling with change management, but you also see the potential for your company.
Silverside can help organizations in the process of change and with our PACE methodology, we can offer the right strategy and expertise to reach a positive rate of user adoption with the new tools, while ensuring a successful change process.