In helping clients implement transformational change, we often see a common mistake: change management effort stops when the project hits the go-live date.
Change is difficult to execute, and it can be tempting to declare victory on day one, collapse in a heap and rush into the next change initiative.
Senior stakeholders can exacerbate this issue. They may subconsciously regard a change as ‘done’ as soon as they sign off a hefty business case or mobilise a team. And they are – rightly – always looking for the next change initiative to move the business forwards.
However, change takes time to bed in.
And only by recognising and planning for this can you ensure sustainable change.
The potential impact of not thinking beyond go-live is significant:
- You rarely get change 100% right first time. If the project ends too fast, there is no opportunity to enhance what was delivered on day one.
- There is limited opportunity to get feedback from those affected by the change who are best placed to identify potential improvements.
- Once the change team moves on, there is no expert resource on hand to support teething problems following go-live.
- You miss the chance to communicate the benefits of change so people feel it was worthwhile.
- Ultimately, the change does not embed properly, and the intended benefits are not achieved.
How can you avoid these issues?
Build a plan for continued change management activity that goes beyond the go-live date.
Secure resources for the plan. You will need capable people to continue the change management support and be there to help if users need it.
Communicate the need from the start. Ensure stakeholders appreciate the importance of post-go-live activity in embedding change and that change will likely take longer than anticipated.
Ensure the change is embedded in existing ways of working and aligned to governance mechanisms, wider processes, performance management and reward as appropriate.
Use key activities such as post-implementation reviews, user surveys, refresher training and measuring and communicating benefits to keep up the momentum of change.
Plan review points after 3, 6 or 12 months, depending on the scale of the change, to help learn how to do it even better in future.
Engage key employees, such as change champions, in celebrating progress and driving adoption of the change beyond go-live.
Plan for optimisation activities once the hyper-care period is over. A few weeks or months down the line, you will have feedback from your people on how to make the change even better.
In summary, successful change management goes beyond implementation.
Think about how to help people adopt the change right from the start and build a plan that goes beyond go-live. Look to stabilise, reinforce and optimise the change to achieve its objectives over the long term.
Get in touch to discuss how we can help you make your change stick.
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