How Savvy Businesses Tackle Change Management

by Charlotte Ritter

Katherine Jones, the Vice President, Human Capital Management Technology Research at Bersin by Deloitte, was a recent guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series to share her insight on the intersection of sales, marketing, and technology. The series, which is hosted by TechnologyAdvice’s Clark Buckner, explores a variety of business and technology landscapes through conversations with industry leaders.

Katherine joined Buckner to discuss what companies can do ensure successful change management.

Expert Podcast Interview

Below are a few highlights from our conversation:

TA: When we talk about change management, we’re not just talking about HR software tools, we’re talking about any major change. So what kind of major changes fall into this category?

Katherine: There’s a lot. About 70 percent of the change initiatives in companies today are total failures and that is a huge problem. It’s a big number, which means only 30 percent are successful.

Sometimes it’s a big merger in acquisitions, sometimes it’s a global initiative that’s really huge and it just falls flat on its face; and often it’s purely a change in technology — a company going with a new big ERP system or a global talent acquisition system. If companies don’t plan for it right, it can be a real failure.

TA: What are the real pain points these failures cause?

Katherine: Time loss and productivity. There’s some real change issues and there are ways people that can plan for these things. Now if we plan for change as much as we plan how we’re going to implement technology, that’s one example of how we could be so much better off.

TA: What are a couple steps you recommend to any kind of company looking at making some of these major changes?

Katherine: One of the first things that’s really important is looking at your company’s capability to change. If you’re the one that really wants to do something different and something really innovative — but nobody else does, that’s going to be a really big and hard battle.

So you’re going to have to look around and get a cohort of people who are really interested in supporting you doing something different. You want to know you have your whole team feeling the way you do.

Sometimes, you really want to do it but you’ve got to figure out a way that makes every employee have a little skin in the game. They need to see that it’s better for the organization, even if they have to change the way they’re approaching what they do.

We spend hours looking at data about companies that are successful when they try to do major software implementation. The first thing is: it’s not for the faint of heart. There are so many things to consider. One of the interesting things we’re finding in the HR space, is more and more human capital departments, and HR departments actually running the software implementations. It used to be  IT always bought the software. But now that Software as a Service (SaaS) provides different price point for things, we are seeing HR directors or professionals who are much more involved in running new HR software initiatives.

Not only do we have more HR people, but we also have people who may not have actually ever managed an implementation before. If you’re going to go off and start with software vendors and support and SLA — and all those things — you really have to know what you’re talking about.

So one of the things a vendor can do is try to provide not just, “This is how our software works,” but, “Here is what we need to do, and the steps we need to go through to have a nice smooth implementation.”

Another thing that people hardly ever do when they start a project (whether it is a software implementation or any others) is to just try to figure out from the beginning what constitutes success. We never think about that. It just seems like if we can get it to go we’ve won, but savvy companies do more than that.

Listen to the entire show above in order to hear our full conversation, or (download the show) to listen later. You can subscribe to the TA Expert Interview Series via Soundcloud, in order to get alerts about new episodes.

This podcast was created and published by TechnologyAdvice. Interview conducted by Clark Buckner.

image credit: Lars Plougmann

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Charlotte RitterCharlotte Ritter is a technology analyst for TechnologyAdvice. She covers business intelligence, gamification, project management, and other emerging technology. She has also written about startups, company growth, and talent management. Connect with her on LinkedIn.