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Why change management is important

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A common mistake by many organisations implementing a new IT system is that they don’t apply a change management process for the implementation.
Seugnet van den Berg, MD at consulting firm Bizmod, says that she often encounters IT departments who don’t see the need for a change management programme as part of the process.
“This is extremely problematic, and the end result is low user adoption and the return on investment not being realised. These kinds of mistakes are currently very prevalent when it comes to projects dealing with the protection of data and compliance with legislation.”
System implementation for large data projects will no doubt include new security elements and even more so, for customer centric organisations who are legally bound to protect their customer data. “It is therefore imperative that teams have a thorough understanding of all the data housed within their organisation,” says Van den Berg.
This is typically handled through a mapping process that will enable users to understand where the data comes from, who has access to the data, who uses it, where the data goes and classification of what the data is.
“A thorough understanding of the data and all the elements relating to it will highlight to management the necessity for behavioural change by all users who interact with the system,” says Van den Berg. “Stakeholder management plays an important role in the acceptance and support of a new system. These individuals have the potential to influence the project and ensure support and commitment.”
The implementation of a new system will affect individuals on an emotional, cognitive and skills level and thus behavioural change is a necessary component to ensure understanding and the path of least resistance from employees. The change impact work associated with this should be based on each role type and not be dealt with generically across all the organisational roles.
“What they do, what they will need to stop and start doing and how they do this are all typical questions that employees will face during this period,” says Van den Berg.
Change impact management creates the necessary focus on the behaviour required for the new implementation, as it identifies and clarifies the person’s or group’s new roles or changes to their current role due to the project implementation.
“It is a common misconception that communication is the key to change management, says Van den Berg. Communication is just one of the four core elements required, the others being stakeholder management, training and change impact management.
“Change management is a core principle in implementing sustainable projects and research has shown that by applying a structured approach in a pro-active way, the risks and associated costs of people not adopting the system can be managed.”