For many of us, the approach of a new year means a brief period of reflection on the previous months’ activities and accomplishments followed quickly by a frantic rush to plan resolutions, goals and events for the next. However, if we give it the attention it deserves, this time has the potential to serve as an invaluable stopgap to really think about what’s been working well and what transformative changes are necessary – and could be realistically implemented in the next quarter, year or beyond.
According to a recent study by the Standish Group, only 29% of IT projects are successful. 52% of implementations face obstacles to completion while 19% fail to complete the entire process.
With that in mind, you will find value in reading these lessons learned from experts who have already been through the process and found success on the other side.
Change is Challenging
Linda Gilbert, Director of Professional Services at RFgen, helps guide organizations through the change management process. With over 16-years of hands-on experience in digital transformation, mobile technology, information systems and supply chain management, Linda has personally seen what makes an organization successful during these tenuous periods of transformation.
“Deciding to undertake an organizational change, even a small one, can be challenging or even frightening, for many organizations,” explains Linda. “However, I’ve found that organizations have much more success when they take the time to analyze their current processes and set strategic goals and priorities first before reaching out to an outside vendor. That way, the vendor can successfully meet them halfway to implement the most effective, cost-saving supply chain management solutions.”
This strategy also helps ensure buy-in at all levels of your organization from the very beginning of the process to facilitate smooth change management and ultimately, drive both current and future business.
With more than 36-years of experience, our highly-skilled teams of supply chain consultants have helped build and deploy supply chain management solutions for over 3,000 customers across the globe. During that time, RFgen experts have identified a few key steps to help streamline the process and guarantee success for all involved parties:
1. Set Up an Internal Task Force
When your organization is considering implementing some sort of structural or organizational change, your first step is to establish an internal task force with stakeholders across all departments of your company including senior leaders, IT, accounting and operations.
The purpose of this is to clearly define which processes are currently ineffective and what tangible outcomes you hope to achieve by incorporating the new policy, software, program, etc., as focus areas may vary across department. Ultimately, taking the time for this initial discussion should facilitate future stakeholder buy-in and ease the overall transition process.
This process should also establish Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), or the employees who will serve as the spokespeople for change across the organization. SMEs have specific knowledge in their area or department and as such, serve as representatives or ambassadors for each areas’ specific deficiencies or requirements that will need to be addressed with the change, as Linda does for change management at RFgen. This will include employees across all departments, including any other support teams whose members would be impacted by the new solution.
To be most effective, SMEs must perform four key responsibilities:
- Manage workflows
- Ask questions
- Build relationships
- Advocate for change acceptance
Later, SMEs will also be called upon to ensure all training materials related to the new solution are useful, accurate and timely for their department to help validate the process.
2. Take Time to Understand Your Own Processes
Once an internal task force is created, it’s also important to take time to clearly understand your company’s current operational methods and define all areas of deficiency.
Current state refers to how your organization is currently operating, including its people, processes and technologies, while future state describes your company after a solution is implemented and represents the goal(s) your business is trying to achieve with the change. Assessing and fully documenting your company’s current state serves as an audit of the current environment and helps demonstrate the need for change to your stakeholders.
When it’s time to reach out to potential vendors, having an accurate picture of your organization’s current state will also help each one more clearly delineate how they can meet your specific needs and successfully implement the agreed upon solution.
Remember: Your vendor can only do so much. Only you know your business inside and out. Do your homework and take the time to intimately analyze your own processes to maximize your chances for implementation success.
3. Create Clear, Actionable Goals
The more accurately you understand your current state, the easier it will be to clearly define the actionable goals your task force hopes to accomplish. In particular, S.M.A.R.T. goals can help your organization better define your desired end results and stay focused on what you hope to achieve as you approach potential vendors.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are:
Well-defined, attainable goals define your project’s boundaries, identify necessary resources and indicate progress. Meeting with potential vendors will also help you refine your goals further as they lend their own technical expertise and experience with clients to illuminate any previously undiscussed pitfalls or areas of concern.
However, the absence of specific, actionable goals can make it difficult for a vendor to accurately assess your needs and craft an appropriate solution, hindering progress for both parties.
4. Reach Out to Vendors to Help Build a Case
Now that you’ve taken the time to set up an internal task force, fully understand any operational deficiencies and define the actionable goals you hope to achieve, it’s time to reach out to potential vendors and start building your case for change.
The vendors will be able to explain each potential solution and outline all specific benefits associated with a successful implementation, along with offer existing material that speaks to your stakeholders across myriad departments such as finance, IT or senior leadership.
Importantly, they’ll also be able to present lessons learned, along with tangible data on prior clients who overcame similar challenges by executing tailored solutions to improve efficiency, increase productivity and drive growth and innovation throughout their organization.
This discussion will be instrumental in helping your task force build your business case to later present to the relevant decision makers and in successfully choosing the best solution to implement.
Effective Change Management in the Supply Chain
To help ensure successful implementations with our own customers, RFgen consulting services provide end-to-end guided implementation. By applying lessons learned and industry-best practices, our consultants offer ERP-specific, expert-level understanding of supply chain automation solutions, and successfully facilitate effective change management for logistically complex organizations.
Crafted by decades of experience, our consultants follow a results-proven implementation methodology that emphasizes strong customer collaboration and high-quality system integrations. Customers leverage RFgen’s deep industry-specific understanding, technical innovation and superior customer service to help identify potential areas of growth and craft ironclad business cases to present to their organization’s stakeholders.
No matter the scope of your new year’s goals, taking time to fully audit your current processes and meet your vendors halfway will help your company successfully rollout transformative organizational change.