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The Strategic Framework for Change Management in Wholesale Distribution

As a wholesale distribution company, you’ve probably experienced a recent push towards embracing new technology to automate business processes. Automation is a popular method of handling everything from invoicing and contracts, right down to IoT sensors that can help streamline inventory management and processing.

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Technology and innovation is one of your biggest opportunities to improve efficiency and productivity, however, it can become costly, risky, and a failure when poorly implemented.

History of Change Management
Change Management as a practice has traditionally been associated with HR and organisational restructuring, or organisational development more widely. While its relevance in these areas is still current, its application and recognition has spread significantly wider to other industries in recent years. This has become quite apparent in the way the technology industry—and more specifically technology projects—have embraced Change Management as a critical component of project delivery.

The drive to incorporate Change Management as a complimentary project activity is born from multiple studies—each indicating the delivery of a more successful and smoother implementation, better return on investment (ROI), and improved engagement amongst users.

Application of Change Management in project delivery
Traditional technology projects are generally implementation-focused—especially around scoping requirements, building to deliverables, and tracking to milestones. If a project is judged as successful against these metrics, it’s noted that problems with end user adoption, engagement and ability to use a new system will persist.

This is where Change Management plays an important role; working in collaboration with project managers and technical managers to deliver a successful implementation.

How does Change Management add value?
Typically, projects are initiated to benefit the business—whether it be to reduce costs, improve efficiency, or enhance the business offering. Implementing a project can require minor or major changes to processes, job roles, structures and use of technology.

While a project manager is focused on the budget, timeframes of a project delivery, and technical lead on the details of the system’s integration, a change manager thinks holistically about people, processes and systems—considering all the elements involved in making your technology work for day-to-day operations.

Change Management places the end user—or impacted user groups—at the heart of its thought process. It seeks to understand how users will be impacted from a people, process, system usage and transition perspective. It takes a very forward-looking view on projects to identify risks, impacts and blockers, in order to put in place mitigation strategies early to address these issues. Most importantly, it focuses on getting your employees on board, in order to support change.

Identifying risks, impacts and proposing mitigation approaches
Once the change manager has a good understanding of how the change will impact the organisation as a whole, they work to formulate an overarching change strategy. This strategy covers how change will be communicated, how users will be trained, and how change will be implemented.

To put the change strategy into action, the change manager will work closely with team leaders, managers—or in some cases customer service staff, especially when a change will impact customers. Staff feel more inclined to follow an initiative when it is being communicated or directed from their direct manager. Having this interface is essential to ensure adoption.

Employing a Change Management model
So, how can you ensure that Change Management adoption is successful? A Change Management model will help your business effectively plan for, and later deliver, change.

Here’s five of the most popular models used by organisations adopting Change Management processes.

Kotter’s Change Management model is one of the most popular and adopted theories, with eight stages that each focuses on employees’ response to change and increased communication

McKinsey 7-S Change Management model is one of the longest lasting Change Management frameworks, consisting of 7 crucial categories that companies should be aware of when implementing change.

ADKAR model is multi-faceted, and can be used to identify various gaps in the process so that effective training can be offered to the employees. Though it focuses on business-oriented goals, it can support employees going through the process of change.

Kübler-Ross five stage Change Management model is 100% employee-oriented, and can also be applied to the loss of job, changes in work and other less serious health conditions. It helps employers understand and empathise with their employees during organisational changes.

Lewin’s Change Management model is one of the most popular and effective Change Management models, and consists of three main stages which helps companies better understand structural change.

It’s clear that employee communication is the central part of every Change Management model. If your employees are not on board, implementing change will be a cumbersome challenge.

Assembling the right Change Management team
Driving successful change within a project is not a one-person show. It requires the buy-in, cooperation and influence of a wide variety of stakeholders—all working in tandem to achieve total adoption.

The role of senior leadership in sponsoring the project is essential to drive strategic communication and influence from a top-down level. Many projects are not successful if the senior leadership are not seen to be supporting it at a sponsorship level.

A change manager will also need to engage with a variety of managers or employees who support their teams to manage the change. Working closely with these stakeholders provides the change manager with key insights that inform communication and training strategies.

Equally, it’s important to assemble a coalition of willing advocates, such as local Champion users or team leaders. Ensuring buy-in from those who can lend authority and influence is one of the best ways to deal with resistance. This group will play a vital role in the success of a Change Management project, and assist in selling the change or cascading the message to any impacted user groups.

Characteristics of smart Change Management
Smart and effective Change Management involves a combination of strategy, operations, people, process and systems. On a basic level Change Management ensures implementation runs smoothly from design, through to deployment and beyond.

The change function analyses the future state of any processes, before anything is built, and will start planning for the road ahead by asking the following questions:
What is changing?
Who will be impacted?
How will they be impacted?
Where are the risks?
Who will need to be trained?
How should we communicate this change?

It will then start to put plans in place to manage transition risks, impacts, and blockers, ensuring that those who need to use the new system understand why it’s happening, what they need to do, and where to go for support. Successful Change Management will smooth the road ahead before you build on it—leading to better ROI, benefits realisation, easier implementation and better adoption.

Nexon’s Change Management approach
Leveraging the experience of a partner like Nexon means you can deploy and deliver best practices with proven results. Our consultants have extensive experience in managing complex projects across a breadth of clients, and are well- placed to solve your complex change needs.

We work with you as part of a tailored Change Management approach to manage and mitigate both resistance and roadblocks. Your Nexon team can help you realise your ideal return on investment and operational benefits.

Our three stage approach involves:

Planning for change
We perform required due diligence to understand your entire landscape, and ensure that plans and processes are put in place to identify and overcome any hurdles

Effecting change
We define 5 key plans with actionable tasks that are executed throughout the delivery of the program. Operating separately, but in alignment with the project delivery team, we have a team focused on successful solution delivery, and another focused on driving organisational change

Maintaining change
We set-up a foundation that builds momentum, based on the embracing of change within your company. This focuses on the needs of your users going forward, and provides them with an opportunity to bring in new features that may not have been delivered in the initial phase

Want to know more about how we can apply our Change Management approach and experience to your business needs? Reach out to one of our Change Management consultants today.