How to: Change Management in Enterprise Technology Projects


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You're responsible for procuring and implementing a new software technology project within your organization. Maybe, it's a new ECM, WCM, or DAM system. You identified your stakeholders, got the budget in your pocket, and lined up a technology selection consultant. Missing anything? Some organizations tend to overlook or underestimate internal change management issues. And any new software being introduced is a major change for any organization, small or big. Here are some helpful tips on how to manage change in enterprise technology projects.

Recognize and make explicit how new systems and tools are likely to affect people's jobs, and enlist their support for productive change. Enlist management as well.

The extent of internal change is one of the most overlooked and underestimated pitfalls when implementing enterprise technology. Most companies rarely consider it, focusing almost entirely on the technical aspects of workflows, rather than the people and what it means to them and their roles.

People don't like change and generally don't like to change. Team members will do many things to avoid, delay, ignore, or sabotage the enterprise technology implementation and use. Streamlining creative and production workflows by providing tools to creatives, brand managers, developers, and marketing managers will be exhilarating and liberating to some, horrifying to others. Some employees might not want to take direct responsibility for and control of their content. Others may feel constrained by the rules (or the responsibilities) of using a centralized system.

Marketing, message consistency, and brand management are likely to be central to your business. Your content and associated rich media assets lie at the foundation of all your content strategy and communication efforts, whether through traditional channels or social media: web, print, mobile, video, offline, and broadcast. You may want to establish a system of incentives and controls to make sure your team manages and uses the new system consistently. You are not necessarily eliminating people's jobs; you're just asking people to focus more intently on their particular areas of expertise. Involve your best people in the design process and the new system should work well for you. While it seems odd, sometimes the only way organizations have achieved adoption is by adding "departmental use of system X" as a KPI for managers. Intransigent VPs often end up being among the most significant barriers to efficacy.

Most people appreciate that enterprise technology can eliminate cost, especially for repetitive and manual work. Having marketing managers spend hours-according to numerous published studies-hunting for images and product specs, for example, and not finding them, and then having to contract with creatives to locate or recreate them, wastes multiple corporate resources. Highlight the liberating attributes of the system; technology can produce the welcome change of more meaningful work.

Enterprise technology requires human beings to add definitions and words to pictures, images, and videos; to write and input articles; and to design landing pages and microsites. There's some increase in work that is necessary, especially in the initial stages.  

Enterprise technology also facilitates multichannel distribution. With the growth of digital media on the web and on mobile devices, companies can no longer afford the delays and cost caused by nonelectronic information transfer. Everyone wins with efficient multichannel content distribution on a global basis. Enterprise technology can facilitate global workflows and sharing of critical marketing and sales assets over geographical boundaries. People can be informed accurately and consistently. Who in the field, or on the other side of the globe, wouldn't welcome that?

In truth, enterprise technology can displace some people, but it can also empower a few people to serve the many. One of the most significant changes in the organization is getting used to the new system, the new workflows, and the new responsibilities that come with it. Training often helps tremendously. In any event, many people's jobs will likely change. Some will have more work; some will have less. Ultimately, you should be able to locate and publish more content, faster, and with better results, leading to faster time to market and more accurate and consistent information. Nevertheless, you will need leadership to address the inevitable individual gains and losses along the way.