Why is there so much disparity in the success of supply chain and logistics solutions? Why do some companies get so much more value from their supply chain and logistics deployments over time, while others see their value degrade?
Looking at the numerous implementations I’ve seen in my career, change management consistently rises to the top as having the greatest impact on both the short- and long-term success of supply chain and logistics technology implementations.
The reason change management is so important is that the best results from new supply chain and logistics tools come not only when they’re implemented, but as business strategies, tactics and processes are “changed” to take advantage of new capabilities. Since most people don’t naturally embrace change, project success can be at significant risk without a change-management strategy, accompanying action plan and dedicated resources.
Many confuse project management and change management. Successful project management gets a supply chain or logistics application implemented as envisioned. Change management prepares, supports and helps individuals, teams, and organizations to embrace the changes a new application brings. The reason the two need to work together is that individuals and organizations can go through the motions of using new systems, but not embrace them. With the right change-management strategy and execution, all these issues can be avoided — and many organizations can even find themselves overachieving their expected initial and ongoing results.
Following are the seven most important the principles of change management.
Recognize that the change-management team is not the project team. The project team has plenty to do implementing the solution. The change-management team focuses on what’s changing with the new systems, determines how to get the organization to change, and manages it.
Sell the value. Organizations consist of individuals who have to “buy in” to the vision of the value of the new application — what will it do for the organization and, most importantly, for themselves. The value may be unique to the roles in the organization, and needs to be tailored to be relevant.
Enlist the influencers and experts. Every organization has people — not necessarily managers — who are respected for their expertise and work ethic. These are the people that the rest of the organization look to for guidance.
Overcommunicate. Don’t assume everyone knows where the project stands, and get the word out to better educate any naysayers. Clearly explain what is and isn’t working and why.
Capture and show the value. Have metrics that show performance improvement and adoption by the organization. It’s important to track engagement with the new system, as some will do their best to avoid it.
Be relentless. Workforces are naturally skeptical of what management says, but closely watch how management acts. Make sure there’s a constant management presence and positive reinforcement, so the workforce sees the commitment to change.
Don’t completely disband post go-live. Organizational turnover is a momentum killer. Establish a team of experts or competency center to ensure that new and existing users can take full advantage of the application, and focus on ways to make it deliver more value.
With the value that supply chain and logistics technology can bring, it would be a crime to overlook the one thing — change management — that can unlock that value and sustain it going forward. Impactful change doesn’t occur naturally, so a concerted effort to get the entire organization to buy in is critical to the successful implementation of new supply chain and logistics tools. Is your organization including change management to maximize your project’s results?
Chris Jones is executive vice president of industry and services with Descartes.
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