Someone once asked me why I believed change management was so important to a specific project. I told them that my experiences in previous large-scale projects demonstrated a need for change actions. However, today my answer to this same question would be different.
At the time, we were talking about the deployment of a procurement tool (SAP Ariba) that was already the market leader in its segment. Why would I need change management in such a consolidated product?
The answer is simple; SAP Ariba is a SaaS (Software as a Service) and Cloud supply-chain platform. This means that it is accessed online, and instead of buying licenses, companies buy the right to use the tool for a determined but extendable period of time. In addition, a set of services provided by the manufacturer are aggregated to the software.
These two features are enough to revolutionise the IT and Procurement departments of any company. Let’s consider the changes a project like this can bring to the company and its different stakeholders.
IT – Historically IT departments have held control over the software used across a company. However as Cloud technologies have emerged, this model has changed. The Ariba platform is not installed on a company’s servers and so a number of activities of the traditional IT department no longer needed, such as:
- Corrective maintenance (covered by the subscription contract)
- Preventive maintenance (covered by the subscription contract)
- Backup (covered by the subscription contract)
Therefore, the control and responsibility over a company’s tools no longer rest solely with the IT function.
Compliance – Traditionally the Compliance department dictates the rules over all other departments within a company. After a solution implementation such as Ariba, it is the Compliance department’s mission, to know, understand and draw the new Procurement model. The Compliance department is not usually involved in technology projects, but now, they will be.
Procurement – The buyer is an “unaware controller”, as they normally set a process’s status in order to decide what the best offers are. In the end, they answer the suppliers’ call to provide follow-up. Now this can be done in another way with greater automation and with results that are more positive.
Suppliers – It is important to understand that the supplier’s employee contacting buyers is a seller. In order for suppliers to keep their customers satisfied they need to understand their clients’ processes. This can come only with data and information. When suppliers access the client information provided by the Ariba platform they will understand its power in this respect.
Given the record, what are the benefits of change management to these stakeholders in these kinds of projects? By knowing the project goals, change management can map the transformations to be implemented, manage stakeholders’ expectations and guarantee not only minimum process impact, but also that these impacts will be received in a more positive way.
The challenge is to assure that the associated departments go through these changes in a positive way. It is important to show the IT department that they now have control over the technology in a more privileged way. The IT personnel now have to audit the software contract with not as much need of operational actions. In addition, costs will be reduced as technology projects, although idealized by business areas, will depend on the IT team.
Regarding to the Compliance department, the change process should be started early, during the enterprise planning, with an invitation to be part of a project that will ease their auditing actions. Just by inviting the Compliance personnel, the chances that the agent will act positively will rise in 50%. Including the Compliance department early will ease the discussions between them and the Procurement department, especially during process mapping meetings. Reaching the best and most productive decision for the company as a whole will be easier.
The Procurement personnel should be convinced that the change will happen not to take control out of their hands, but to allow them to be more of a strategic player instead of an operational one. They will not lose their power to decide between offers, but will have a solution to provide them a better vision of the whole process so they can make a quicker and more assertive decision.
When communicating the project to the supplier, it is important to clarify that they will not have to pay to answer quotations in the platform. That is the first mission of the deployment team. After that, it is important to show that with the new tool, he or she will not have to make that typical call to the buyer to ensure the process is going well. Now, the supplier will have access to deadlines and general information regarding their clients in the tool. In summary, the supplier is now the manager of its own data within their clients.
How is that all possible? Over 3 years, Stratesys developed a methodology to deal with each project in a more exclusive approach. The secret to success is communication!
The first step is to inform all involved areas that a Digital Transformation project will begin and that all relevant personnel will be notified. From there, all involved stakeholders will be mapped.
The next step is to promote harmony between departments, usually Procurement, Compliance and IT. They need to know their roles and why their engagement is necessary to promote a positive change.
The most assertive way to reach the goals is to listen carefully to the client. It is important to get to know the professionals and people with whom we are working with, as after all it is their activities we are transforming. After listening to them it is important to show the benefits and, above all provide benchmarking.
Over time and after numerous experiences we confirmed that deployment projects generating transformation and that are supported by change management have 70% more chance to succeed. Those that have a dedicated professional to deal with change management have 48% more chance to reach their goals without resistance.
In conclusion, this assertive methodology is successful because it is focused on people and not on the application. Deployment teams need to ensure all relevant agents are mapped and have a positive and understanding attitude. In doing so the risk of facing serious issue is reduced dramatically.