Adopting new technology? How to successfully nail organisational change

How to navigate the waters of organisational change

Organisations often underestimate the amount of organisational change management required in rolling out new HR technology, according to an expert in the area, who explained that HR professionals can take a number of steps to improve adoption rates and project success.

Every platform built for cloud or as a service is designed as a standardised solution that meets the needs of the majority, but this means there are always gaps or challenges that organisations have to either accept or come up with workarounds for, explained Leon Sayers, lead advisory consultant, Unisys Asia Pacific.

“There are a few reasons people need to avoid the hype or take a big pinch of salt when listening to the sales pitch from the service provider,” he said.

“Not every tool, app or platform is designed to meet your workplace needs, as they were not built for your specific business needs.”

Sayers explained that it is important to review how the business will use the platforms or apps in the organisational change process, and what gaps or challenges will need to be addressed.

“This could be through changes to the processes you follow today or looking at customising the platform which then takes you out of the standard offering, meaning the costs increase again,” he said.

“Choosing the right digital workplace tools for your organisation must be a key consideration for HR leaders.”

According to New Digital Workplace Divide research, which took in 12,000 digital workers across 12 countries, Australian workers at ‘technology laggard’ organisations are seven times more likely to be frustrated by their employer and substantially more likely to find work elsewhere compared to their counterparts at ‘technology leader’ organisations.

The challenges of organisational change
The biggest common challenge for any workplace project is organisational change management and taking people from what they are comfortable using and challenging them with something new, said Sayers.

“One recent example was moving a government agency from Lotus Notes to O365 which doesn’t sound like a big deal as it is just email and Instant messaging, but it is a big deal if you have been using Lotus Notes for 20+ years and never used Outlook or Skype,” he said.

“Choosing the right digital workplace tools for your organisation must be a key consideration for HR leaders”

Recent research has also found that 28 per cent of IT projects are deemed failures, mostly because they get the planning, analysis, strategy and roadmap’s wrong, have overrun costs or don’t deliver the project on time.

To improve the organisational change process and ensure employees can make the best use of new tools, it is important to support and cater for various age groups and the technology adoption capabilities within the group of employees.

Some tech savvy people may be happy to use self-help articles on the intranet, whereas Sayers said others might require traditional classroom style training or a few options in between.

The other big organisational change gap overlooked is whether your existing systems and apps will work with the new workplace apps.

“For example, if you’re on an old version of Microsoft Exchange with an old 32 bit version of Outlook that has software plugins to your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system or other “legacy” (existing) apps, will the CRM and apps work with your brand new version of O365 outlook in 64 bit or 32 bit mode?

“If this is not addressed up front some organisations decide to leave those staff who need to use the CRM on the old version of Outlook, which means that they don’t get to access the productivity tools and other benefits you were trying to achieve.”

Sayers said this can also create a security risk as some old versions of software are not regularly updated to defend against new virus data breach threats.

“Else they choose to ditch the legacy apps and lose their previous technology investments,” he said.

Improving organisational change outcomes
Sayers said the best way to improve adoption is to take a consultative approach to implementing the new solution.

“By involving all areas of the business in the workshop you’re saying to your staff, ‘here is your chance to be represented and have your say in the way we are going forward into the new digital workplace,’” he said.

“You won’t transform a critical part of your business overnight”

Sayers also recommended using a consultant who has experience in workplace and organisation change to come in and lead an innovation workshop that involves relevant people from the various business units (prior to choosing a platform).

Companies can also remove the emotion from conversations by having an independent third party lead the workshops.

“This helps remove the ‘IT vs users’ mentality and engages participants so that they walk away with a sense of ownership,” said Sayers.

“This will ensure you have positive leaders within the business units to help drive adoption.”

HR issues can also be addressed by being part of potential innovation workshops, in order to clearly identify the needs for the workplace and how they might be addressed – to encompass the people, organisation and business objectives, “so that it is not treated a purely technology decision”, said Sayers.

Forward-thinking companies begin the process by looking at how they currently conduct business and ways to improve through the use of automation, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning as well as the potential to overhaul current processes or apps.

“For example, can you do things in a different way? Or offer a new type of service?” Sayers asked.

“Simply moving what you already have to a different platform may make some small cost savings and bring some new tools to make things a little easier or simpler – but you really haven’t transformed the way your staff do business.

“The key to a successful digital transformation of the workplace is to review how you work today, how you want to work in the future, and get experienced consultants in to help map out an achievable roadmap and strategy to get you to that future state.

“You won’t transform a critical part of your business overnight,” he said.