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Welcome everyone to the HSO Dynamics matters podcast.
Your regular sonic dive into the world of Microsoft technology related matters and much more besides.
I’m Michael Lonnon, and today I’m joined by HSOs Head of Dynamics 365 and Change Management, Tracey Roberts.
I was keen to speak with Tracey because I have heard Change Management mentioned a lot when it comes to technology projects and I wanted to understand what it is, why it’s important, and what could happen if you’ve not given it much thought.
And for those of you wanting to make sure your technology project is a success, this is well worth a listen.
So, grab a brew, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
Michael Lonnon – 01:24
Technology first or people first?
Tracey Roberts – 01:26
Michael Lonnon – 01:28
Yes. I like to ask that one to get other people’s different perspective. So far everyone’s said people first which is the right answer, which leads us into the topic of this conversation, which is about change management. So, if you don’t mind, Tracey, could you put in a bit of context about what is change management?
Tracey Roberts – 01:47
Okay, so from a HSO perspective, change management is about the people side of change. So we’re a projects based business. So project plans and milestones and budgets are a way of life for us. But change management, it’s about acknowledging that successful change comes from individual’s successes. And it’s about recognising that in the team of people that we deal with these projects that we work on, all have teams of people behind them. So that’s in a nutshell what change management is.
Michael Lonnon – 02:26
What do our customers see as change management? So when we talk about it what do they see from change management? How are things different for them?
Tracey Roberts – 02:38
I think it depends on the customer. You know, sort of depending on the size of the customer, as well, larger organisations tend to be fairly switched on to change management and understand the people side of change. Going down to the other end of the scale, smaller organisations, it won’t necessarily be something that’s in house. It might be something they draw on externally as and when they need it. I come from a manufacturing background, and manufacturing over the last 20 years has gone through its own transformations and looking at lean manufacturing and continuous business process improvement. So that’s about understanding the people side of change.
Michael Lonnon – 03:32
Why are people important in that context, particularly from change management, why does it matter they’re at the forefront?
Tracey Roberts – 03:39
I think, again, I mean, project professionals will always say, you know, the success of the project is ultimately dependent on the people. So I think, again, acknowledging that fairly early on, certainly makes for a more successful project down the line. There’s a difference between telling somebody what the change is going to be and have them understand what the change is, and how it impacts them, and what it means for them on a day to day basis. Because, unfortunately, lack of communication in some projects can mean that people aren’t really fully aware of what it is that’s expected of them.
Michael Lonnon – 04:21
So it’s about communication. The success of a project is about good communication for a business, about what is happening and why, how it might impact them, where they fit within the kind of the project and the change is that right?
Tracey Roberts – 04:38
Yes, absolutely. Again, I’m a firm believer of everything that you do in an organisation should be helping you towards achieving your business goals. As a result of that, it flows down that certainly with the people we deal with, they’re going through some form of digital transformation. They’ll be different meanings behind that, different reasons why they’re doing that. Sometimes it’s they’ve got legacy systems that are going out of support. Sometimes it’s they recognise that they need to be more reactive to their customers. But I think it’s important from a communication, you start off at the top with your senior leadership team sponsoring what it is you’re trying to achieve. But again, through change management, what researchers have told us is that those messages are actually best coming from people’s direct line managers. They tend to have more successful communication with their line managers.
Michael Lonnon – 05:40
Okay, so it’s a whole holistic business point of view, yeah?
Tracey Roberts – 05:48
Michael Lonnon – 05:47
It seems fairly clear and obvious why there’s a benefit. If I’m going to put a project in place; if I’m a company looking to implement dynamics 365, what’s my phrasing for change management – am I going to put it in a change management service? Is it, you know, am I implementing change management as part of the project? How does the terminology work?
Tracey Roberts – 06:16
I think change management as a service is certainly something that HSO are looking to support our customers with. So, and as I said earlier, it depends on the customer. Some customers will be very familiar with change management tools and techniques. And I think, from HSO’s perspective, because we’ve recognised the importance of it, if the customer doesn’t want to take our change management services, we will be looking for documents or proof that they’ve done that sort of preparation for change themselves in house as well. So it’s almost a prerequisite for a successful project. So if we don’t see any evidence of it, and the customer doesn’t really want to take any change management services, then we could probably flag that as a potential risk for the project.
Michael Lonnon – 07:10
It’s the centre of success – helping make sure that project lands with success.
Tracey Roberts – 07:17
Absolutely. And a complete success. I think there’s one of the analogies we use during the briefing on change management and what it’s about. Because if you’re dealing with an organisation of 1000 employees, and 800 of those employees adopts the new ways of working really well, then you will get some level of success. But maybe the ultimate return on investment won’t come until all 1000 employees are actually working the new way. And so it’s understanding where those gaps might be and looking at an individual basis as to people’s journeys through change.
Michael Lonnon – 07:58
So it’s also helping identify the journey and where the potential pitfalls are to success.
Tracey Roberts – 08:05
Yes, again, part of change management is looking at the impacted groups for the change and understanding what levels of resistance there might be, and trying to put things into place to mitigate those risks before they happen.
Michael Lonnon – 08:20
What are the dangers of not having a good change management process in as part of your implementation of a particular project? What are the dangers to the business?
Tracey Roberts – 08:33
I think, again, people go on gut feeling a lot. So there’s a perception that you’re hitting your milestones, you’re keeping within budget, but something’s still not quite right. Or, or you haven’t got the team of people, enabling the change, may be, as happy as they want to be. Or perhaps there’s pockets of people that are not quite as familiar with what’s required of them as others. So again, what the change management tools will help us is to identify where those gaps are, in terms of the knowledge transfer. And as I said earlier, it’s not about just communicating what it is you want done, you have to understand whether that communication has been received properly. One of the tools that we use is ADKAR®, the acronym stands for Awareness, creating a Desire on transferring Knowledge, understanding the Ability of the person to deliver, and then the R stands for Reinforcements. It’s an iterative process. So without awareness, you can’t really create desire. And without desire, you can’t really then move into the knowledge transfer. And again, when we get to the knowledge transfer, it’s about ‘I’ve transferred my knowledge, but has it been received?’ In our projects we would do demonstrations and conference room pilots. But then we would expect the users to play it back to us so that we can ensure they’ve understood it correctly.
Change Management is a service. But it’s also a way of doing things. It’s an approach.
One that increases the chance of projects being delivered and then adopted successfully. Because that’s what it’s about, right? That once you’ve spent the money, and put the software in, you’re getting value from it right away.
Whether that’s savings in time and efficiency, or in reduced waste or resource overheads.
Change Management is the bridge between technology, and your business. Consider Change Management at the start and you’ll identify potential pitfalls early on that could scupper the project. And that means you avoid the cost, time and headache of trying to fix things on the fly. It also means users are bought in and using it in the right way right away.