Change and training are an essential part of a project to implement a new system, be it an application or procedural way of working. Many organisations do not value the roles of a Change Manager or Training Manager as much as they should and consequently the positive effects of the outlay on the new ‘product’ are not realised as quickly as they could be, or certainly not to the desired level, if at all.
Too little, too late
There are many projects where even if the change and training elements are present, they are often on-boarded too late. How can you assess and prepare for the impact of the change if you are assigned the role only a few weeks before the launch of the product? If that happens, you have your work cut out to be an effective Change Manager. Often the organisation sees a Change Manager as just a grand title for someone who can word an informative message effectively and deliver it to those they think matter, in other words doing a mass email communication. A Change Manager can then take the brunt of any backlash that the decision makers and purse string holders wish to avoid. Similarly, how can you perform a satisfactory Training Needs Analysis and determine the methods and design effective training if you are handed a ‘fait accompli’? “This is what we are about to implement, we need someone to train them how to use it.” Change and Training are the means to the end, but they should not be a “nice to have” and should not be considered expendable if money is tight.
Projects tend to concentrate on the development of the product. The vision that the product itself will be sufficient to generate the increases in turnover or efficiency or the decreases in errors is often misguided. Does an £80,000 car get you from A to B any quicker than one costing a quarter of that (assuming you are driving on roads with a speed limit that you abide by)? The desire for all the bells and whistles often clouds the real reason for the implementation in the first place.
So having started on the design, how are the users going to accept the change and get up and running with it seamlessly? That is where Change and Training Managers are needed. However the additional cost of such people often deters the organisation who thinks they can manage without them. If internal employees are assigned these roles, then it is often on a part time secondment basis and they are still expected to continue their existing role in addition. This is not the most satisfactory answer. Bringing in external contractors and consultants is another challenge as the cost of such professionals deters the organisation and they will hold back bringing them in for as long as possible to reduce the outlay.
How many projects have not been as successful as they could have if all the right people were on the team from the outset?
Change and Training Managers tend to view things from the end user perspective and how the end users will receive the product. This is an invaluable viewpoint that is often overlooked. They can translate the technical into everyday language and know how to engage those affected by the change, directly or indirectly, for a better adoption of the change. When the project team disbands, it will be the end users who continue to use and promote the benefits of the new system.
Cost is both a problem and a benefit. As a benefit, there are several considerations. You will save in the long run by using dedicated professionals who can use influence the opinions of managers and end users. Also you need to consider why the product was introduced in the first place. What was the ultimate goal of purchasing the new solution/product? Was it the result of a good sales person, or are there real tangible benefits that you wish to achieve from the introduction of it? Also the amount of money invested needs to be justified.
This leads us to Aims and Objectives. A true training aim that is well written and thought out should reflect the intention by the business for the outcome of this new product. It should be in measurable terms, possibly stating the before and after status, that will aid the evaluation and assessment as to whether the product achieves its intended purpose. Here is an example, and remember that the x figure is the current status and the y figure is the intended improvement:
The introduction of the ABC system will increase the number of referrals from x per week to y.
Measurable changes may include:
- Reduction of errors
- Reduction of calls to helpdesk
- Increase in revenue
- Reduction in processing time
- Reduction in transaction time
- Improvement in data quality
- Reduction of time spent in re-training
- Employee performance targets reached
- Increase in employee motivation
The latter bullet may not easily be measured, but a survey both before and after to elicit the attitudes of the staff towards their working environment and results they achieve, could be a pointer to success in this factor.
A final comment under the cost heading is to limit the spending and pay for what you need not for a consultant on a contract that needs to have 5 days per week, for 6 months or more. Consider first the needs of the organisation, not the hired consultants! See section headed Consultants for further information.
There are several options open to an organisation contemplating for example a rollout of a new piece of software.
- Consultants on full time contract, working 5 days per week
- Consultants on flexible, part time basis, working when needed
- Use of internal employees who are change managers/trainers
- Use of internal employees who are subject matter experts, but who have no change management or training experience
I am sure there are other options, and if you have any suggestions, let us know. For the time being, let’s look at these options.
Using external consultants is often the route that organisations take. External consultants have a greater experience of implementations and bring their experience and expertise with them to the benefit of the hiring organisation. However they can be costly and the majority of consultants are looking for 5 days per week and for a considerable term of 6 months or more. This may mean that you are paying for the skills and knowledge full-time, but the external consultants are not utilised fully during the term of their contract.
External consultants who are flexible and are prepared to work on a ‘need’ basis are few and far between. However, the benefits are that the organisation and consultants can discuss when the peak ‘need’ times are and schedule the work for specific periods of time, be it odd days here and there, week on week off or a combination of all possibilities. This tailored approach ensures that the organisation gets the job done, but without the outlay of funds for a full-time person. Evolution Culture strives to provide the right level of knowledge and intervention, at the right time and when needed, so we aim to fit with the second bullet in the section headed The Solution.
Further reductions in cost outlay for the organisation are possible with WFH (working from home) options where travel costs are reduced. This also enables even an hour or two of work per day, eg for a meeting.
An organisation using its own employees knows that the cultural and background information are already known, the way things work, etc. However, assigning an existing employee to a role in an implementation on a secondment basis for example means that their normal job still has to be done. Often the employee is expected to still carry out their normal role and fit in the implementation role as well. This puts too much pressure on the majority of people and something then needs to give. This is a risky route to take.
If the organisation already has change and training specialists in place, then the above scenario may occur if several changes and implementations are running concurrently. If the existing employee has specific knowledge of a process or product and can be termed a subject matter expert, they will be called upon during the implementation without a doubt. So utilising them on the project as the change management or training specialist for example, could be a good move. However you need to get that employee up to speed on how to manage change and training. Expecting effective training as the outcome from a person who has never trained anyone previously, is quite a risk. The methodologies of ADKAR (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement) and ADDIE (Analyse, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate) are ones that we teach in our courses on Change Management and Training related subjects and we follow the ADKAR and ADDIE methods when working as consultants. We are developing a guide on managing change and training using these methodologies as the basis which will be coming out soon.
Evolution Culture can help find a solution that works for each organisation, by providing consultancy as and when needed or taking the time to prepare you internal staff to deliver an effective change and training programme for your implementation.