Change Management: Start Early, Build Buy-In, and Change It Up

Steve Jacobson

Chief Executive Officer

Steve, founder of JCA, has provided systems consulting and implementation services to a number of clients, including Carnegie Hall, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The American Museum of Natural History, New York Botanical Garden, and the National Constitution Center.
August 12, 2022

When we ask clients about the importance of change management, almost everyone agrees that it’s critical to the success of a project. After all, you can spend a lot of time and money on a project, but if the organization fails to readily adopt a new system, you can wind up with some pretty expensive “shelf-ware.” According to the Standish Group’s 2020 CHAOS report, an estimated 66% of software projects fail. While we can debate the definition of “failure,” we can safely say that two out of every three software projects have significant shortcomings. Can you guess what one of the critical factors is in determining success? You’re right: change management.

Begin at the Beginning

Simply put, no one likes change. Change is hard. Change is unsettling. Old habits die hard as do old business processes and legacy software. That’s why it’s important to manage change as early in the project as possible. Some folks think that managing change should start when the software implementation begins. At JCA, we believe that you need to start much earlier. In fact, we often begin projects with a kick-off meeting to generate excitement and get people on the same page. A few years ago, we worked with a museum on an enterprise-wide digital transformation project. The museum’s project sponsor invited all of the staff to attend, served light refreshments (food is always a draw!), and then blasted out David Bowie’s “Changes.” Everyone was really pumped.

Foster Buy-In

While a raucous kick-off may not be your style, it is important to bring everyone together. Effective change management is all about getting buy-in from the entire team. If we can get the gift entry staff to envision a future state that makes their lives easier, they’ll buy into the process. If we can get the CEO to backfill positions so key staff will have dedicated project time, we’ll get more buy-in. Up and down the line, everyone has a part to play. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an entire team to effect change.

During the discovery period, when we interview organizational stakeholders about their software requirements, we purposely go further. We delve into their pain. We go deep into their frustrations. Above all, we listen and we empathize. We make sure that everyone knows that they have a voice.

Change It Up!

Change management is an ongoing and multi-faceted process. As you get further into the project, look for quick wins to continue building excitement and solidifying buy-in. As the project continues, make sure that you have a good communication plan, so stakeholders have a safe environment in which to raise questions and discuss concerns. Furthermore, make sure that people feel valued. Recognize good work and celebrate achievements.

Is your organization about to embark on a CRM change?

You’ve made the big decision—and now it’s time to implement. How do you ensure your new technology works for you? How do you get buy-in from your team to ensure a smooth transition? Our team of experienced, expert consultants will guide you to success.

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