If you want to make enemies

Change management requires careful, developed planning, and proper guidance throughout the course of the project to be successful

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If you want to make enemies Sheridan: Change is necessary to leverage opportunities, but must be managed properly.
By  Nicky Sheridan Published  November 20, 2013

Change management requires careful, developed planning, and proper guidance throughout the course of the project to be successful, says Nicky Sheridan, Senior VP, Middle East, Africa & Turkey, Software AG.

“If you want to make enemies, try to change something” is a quote from Woodrow Wilson, who was the 28th President of the United States from 1913 to 1921. I am pretty sure that no one at that time was thinking about Business Process Management and its impact on organisations through change. But what is clear from this statement is the fact that change is always met with resistance. This was true at the beginning of the 20th century and it is still true today.

Change is inevitable. Especially when you think about how BPM impacts how things are going to be done in the future at your organisation compared to how they have been done in the past. If you are serious about your BPM efforts, change goes well beyond implementing a new system to automate processes. It will have impacts on many parts of the organisation.

Do you know how to successfully drive such change in an organisation? Do you know how to be a good change agent or how to identify them for your cause?

Regions such as the Middle East which are expediting the digitization of their businesses are especially attuned to the importance of change. Business leaders here recognise the importance of change in leveraging growth opportunities, especially as the commercial and economic resilience of the region has been shifting business prospects to its favour over the past few years. And they fully appreciate the unique role of technology in ensuring operational excellence.

At Software AG we run a strategic Business Process Excellence program for a while now and during the course of the program we gained some insights that I would like to share with you: How we plan, drive and manage change at Software AG.

• Obviously, the first step is to have a vision, a plan and a roadmap in place. You need to have a clear idea of the business goal and the actions required to achieve it.

• Driving change in an organisation is never easy. Set your expectations regarding effort and timeline accordingly. Also set your expectations accordingly in terms of the scope that you are aiming at. Trying to roll out significant changes on a global basis is almost never a good idea. Instead, consider staged roll-out plans.

• Identify a sponsor from executive management, stakeholders and those people that will be directly affected by the change. Write them down in a list — you will need this later on in order to make sure that you have all your bases covered.

• Identify champions that will act as change agents. These guys will help to ‘sell’ the change that you want to implement. Characteristics of a good champion can be summarised as follows:

· Open-minded person that perceives changes as a chance to improve rather than a threat
· Someone who can sell an idea by spreading enthusiasm
· Not necessarily a management role, but a recognised character with domain expertise
· Someone who is part of the community or team where you want to implement the change (i.e., if you propose major changes to logistics processes, your champion should be someone from the logistics team)

Usually, the choice of such a champion comes pretty naturally as soon as you start socialising your idea with the different people from the previous point. Often, multiple people will, independently from each other, suggest the same person as champion.

• If you expect fierce resistance, don’t hesitate to do a stakeholder analysis and see if you can leverage your network to help overcome resistance where you can’t manage it on your own — support from others is vital.

• Develop a communication plan that goes hand-in-hand with the project and that addresses and involves all levels of the organisation. Use different communication channels for different audiences and optimise your content accordingly. Make sure you start this as early as possible – early meetings to inform everyone about your plans and workshops to collect their input are good ways to kick-off your communication strategy. Do not ever drop this while the project is happening. Make sure to communicate project progress and any changes in the project plan on a frequent basis.

Looking at this closely you’ll realise that Change Management is a process in its own right. Just like Process Excellence, defining and improving your business processes, is a process in itself. This is important to understand as it means that you have to align both throughout the lifecycle of each project that is part of your Process Excellence program.

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