Elissa Goad professional photo

Elissa Goad

Director, Consulting Expert | U.S. IP Solutions

Did you know your skin's entire surface is replaced every month? That means we wear around 1,000 different skins in our lifetime, constantly transforming. Whether it's a biological process like our skin cells or a work-related project like an ERP modernization effort, change is an ever-present component of our lives. But that doesn't mean change is easy.

In fact, studies show that up to 75% of ERP implementations fail. Unfortunately, failed implementations are becoming a common topic as so many governments have experienced project failure in some capacity. To be clear, when we reference up to 75% of ERP implementations failing, that doesn't necessarily mean a project is canceled. In this case, failure is a sliding scale. It could mean the project's original scope was not realized, timelines needed to be extended, or budgets had to be increased. Regardless, we must dive deeper into why this is happening to overcome this challenge and achieve a successful transformation.

What's the first thing that comes to mind when considering ERP implementation failure? For most of us, it's technology. But technology is only one pillar of modernization. People and change management are often overlooked critical components of a successful project. When CGI's clients were surveyed in our most recent Voice of Our Clients, 69% of leaders said culture change remains the top constraint to achieving business priorities. Transformational change impacts all areas of your organization, and having a culture that is open to embracing change will measurably increase your chances of success.

Set your workforce up for success with a comprehensive change management strategy

A structured, transparent, and comprehensive organizational change management (OCM) strategy helps guide project success and create broad organizational buy-in. At CGI, we recommended including the following five key areas in your strategy:

  • Stakeholder management and executive alignment – in this area, stakeholders are identified, and a change impact assessment is conducted for each stakeholder group. Ensuring executives are aligned with the project's vision, purpose, and goals is also critical.
  • Internal and external communications plan – it's essential to have an inclusive, informative, and engaging communications strategy. At CGI, we follow Prosci's ADKAR model, which supports communication development and dissemination in a logical order to help stakeholders successfully navigate change. Utilizing a strategy like this one is instrumental in rolling out dynamic communications.
  • Roles and responsibilities analysis – roles will inevitably need to be adjusted, and responsibilities will need to be revisited by many members of your workforce. As part of your OCM strategy, it's important to plan for those changes, proactively undertake role realignment, and successfully prepare your employees for upcoming changes that will impact them once the "new normal" arrives.
  • Policies and procedures refresh – with the transformational change, you are not simply implementing a new solution but revisiting business processes to create efficiencies and streamline operations. Your standard operating procedures must be refreshed along with your operations.
  • Training and knowledge transfer – the final element of your comprehensive OCM strategy is training for the new roles, responsibilities, policies, procedures, and technology you now have. Benjamin Franklin once said, "Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." We recommend involving your stakeholders through continuous exposure and active participation in the solution's architecture, design, configuration, and implementation. Training is not a one-time event; it's a thoughtful exchange throughout the project life cycle.

To help drive your change management strategy, there are four key stakeholder groups: executive leadership, project team members, change ambassadors or change agents, and end users. Each of these groups has different priorities and focus areas that come together to achieve successful transformation.

Planning for transformational change

How can key stakeholders influence the OCM approach and reduce overall risk in modernization projects? These three best practices can help set your transformational change initiative on the road to success.

  • Define a clear scope of work – over the past few years, there has been significant research into how COVID-19 launched a business culture in the U.S. of rapid, high-volume change. This type of change is necessary as it allows us to keep up with the world around us and keeps us dynamic in our approach to change. However, quickfire change fundamentally differs from transformational change, like ERP modernization. Multifaceted transformational change impacts all areas of your organization and needs to be appropriately scoped, resourced, and integrated into the shared vision. When scoping your project, focus on tangible aspects like structures, systems, processes, and technology and the other dynamics that can impact success, like cultural norms, workforce mindsets, and emotional reactions to the change.
  • Assess organizational change capacity – many of your employees tasked with working on these projects and delivering change are still juggling the responsibilities of their day jobs. It's important to calculate the capacity those asked to deliver change will need to succeed while keeping the organization's day-to-day functions running smoothly. We must avoid the "we'll figure it out when we get there" mindset and prioritize creating a plan of action to support the change effort. These plans commonly include reorganizing the employee's workload, realigning your workforce, upskilling existing workers, and adding new permanent or temporary members to your team.
  • Make change personal – for transformational change to last, it has to be personal for every employee. Traditionally, we think about the importance of listening to our employees – their feedback on processes, procedures, and technology and their fears, expectations, and excitement about the upcoming changes. I cannot overstate how important this is to achieving broad organizational buy-in. However, key stakeholders should also communicate how and why the change is personal to gain trust and engage employees. Why do they care about this project? Why is it happening now? How will it impact the work they do? Showing that they are dialed into the day-to-day workings of the organization along with the big-picture strategy will not only engage your workforce now but set the stage for continued engagement throughout and beyond the transformation.

Good luck on your transformation journey!

When embarking on a transformational modernization effort, leveraging a comprehensive OCM strategy, defining a clear scope of work, assessing your organizational change capacity, and making change personal will reduce risk and drive organizational change.

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About this author

Elissa Goad professional photo

Elissa Goad

Director, Consulting Expert | U.S. IP Solutions

Elissa brings more than ten years of experience supporting state, local, and federal government modernization. She has in-depth expertise in translating established and emerging technology into real-world benefits and aligning organizations with solutions that drive their business outcomes now and in the future. Since joining ...