The main reason why your digital change isn't working

  • 06/09/2022

Adopting new digital technologies frequently presents challenges, with missed deadlines and budget overruns being common. According to a study by Bain & Company, about 70% of surveyed companies achieve only mediocre outcomes, significantly underperforming against their original expectations. What factors contribute to these shortcomings? Is it the challenge of replacing existing software, importing data, or could poor project management be at fault?

None of that. In most cases, the cause of a failed digital change is the human factor. Employees are not involved in the story. They are unable or unwilling to work adequately with a new system. There is resistance to implementing the system. In some cases, staff even walk away dissatisfied.

That change evokes resistance is only natural. Nevertheless, attention to the human factor is not obvious in many companies. Fortunately, there is growing awareness that digital projects need change management. This is a discipline in which teams and organizations are guided and supported to deal with changing processes, technologies or objectives. Change management helps employees see the point of the change and helps build competencies through training and knowledge transfer.

This may all seem obvious, but it is not. Why is change management so important just now?

Change in the war on talent

The necessity and urgency of change management become clear when we look at the current situation in the job market. We are facing one of the tightest labor markets in Europe. Unemployment is falling, employment is increasing and vacancies are becoming increasingly difficult to fill. Companies can no longer afford to lose people. The war on talent is forcing companies to pay attention to the human factor. Just imposing a change top-down, without any participation or guidance from the employee, has become unthinkable today.

Understanding the "why" is crucial

Two years of pandemics have put the relationship between employees and employers on edge. According to Randstad, major reasons for employee turnover are a lack of respect, too little autonomy and a lack of meaningful work. That may well be true. In the past, job security and pay might have been enough to draw people in. But today, employees want more. They want to feel heard and engaged, they want meaningful work and they want to know why any changes are being made.

That's exactly what change management capitalizes on. A change project, such as the implementation of a new ERP system, begins with making people aware of why a change is needed, and motivating them to go along with that change. Only then can we look at the skills and knowledge needed to make the change successful.

Change management: a task for HR?

So successful digital change is not just a matter of techies. The human aspect in such a project is equally important. Does that mean that change management is exclusively a matter for the HR department? Not necessarily. An efficient change manager preferably combines the technical and psychological aspects.

A change manager is a director who helps an organization acquire knowledge (how should I change?). But equally, it is about the why. Change management must make people aware of the value of change and motivate them to embrace it. A change manager guides employees through change, but always does so in close collaboration with various parties: sponsors, HR people, marketing teams, line managers....

Bringing the people to the solution

Digital change in the past has perhaps too often been about bringing a solution to the people. Change management, on the other hand, tries to bring the people to the solution. In today's war on talent, this is a not insignificant nuance. Do you want to reduce the risk of failure? Then change management is a must for your next digital project.

9altitudes gladly guides your organization through today's digital challenges. Looking for a partner to make your digital project a success? Then come talk to one of our change managers.

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