When companies want to make sure a new digital initiative goes well, they often bring in an organizational change management (OCM) team to help. Research has shown more than 60 percent of a project’s success relies on the people, regardless of whether an organization has the right technology and processes in place. OCM activities help make sure the employees are ready and comfortable with changes, so they adapt quickly and realize benefits faster.
The corporate world has recently started to recognize that OCM is not only ideal for system implementations. It can help with any type of digital transformation, including when an organization adds robotic process automation (RPA), decides to source key areas, redesigns its organizational model, or embarks on other types of transitions and transformations. OCM can help a company see a return on investment much sooner. OCM experts emphasize, “It’s all about the people,” because all types of significant change have the same difficult effects on workers who may be comfortable in their daily routines and reluctant to modify their behavior.
Here are some ways OCM helps a company facilitate different types of transformation:
- RPA – When companies introduce robotic elements into their workplace, their human workforce may become uneasy about the idea that jobs could be taken by machines. OCM can help employees understand that RPA typically just involves having software “bots” do the most routine and repetitious tasks, freeing people for other, more rewarding work. OCM assists in training and preparing people for the different processes that will happen before, after and around the robotic elements. Also, many organizations are building automation teams to program RPA bots and help determine what can and can’t be converted to artificial-intelligence (AI) tasks. OCM ensures that representatives from both business operations and IT work together early in the process to identify the right changes and make sure the workers understand why the changes are being made.
- Sourcing and other transitions – OCM is often utilized in outsourcing engagements and other transition/transformation efforts for some of the same reasons. Sometimes, when people see big changes coming, they assume their jobs are going overseas or to an outside organization, when in reality, many existing workers are going to be retained and shifted to more strategic work. Often, outsourced work includes simpler tasks and/or those not requiring any of the company’s deep knowledge or culture. Existing workers continue with the company and provide an important knowledge base, experience and dedication. OCM helps all of the workers, including those transitioning to new roles, to prepare and feel more comfortable about the future. OCM also can play a role in the request for proposal (RFP) process when an organization is choosing service providers, and then help design and improve the relationship between the company and its new provider(s). OCM can help align both sides on the same goals, streamline operations and decision-making, and set up clear metrics for evaluating progress and outcomes.
- Organizational model design and implementation – When an enterprise introduces a new organizational design, OCM can help ensure the new model enables the business goals and matches employees’ capabilities. That can include everything from creating a new physical organizational chart to making sure the functional model is right. OCM considers the sizing, or how many and what types of employees are needed for certain processes and tasks. The goal is to best align the existing workforce with the company’s future and supplement to cover any skills that are missing.
- System integration – Many companies already consider OCM a crucial part of any system implementation or upgrade. OCM includes change strategy, management of your stakeholders, targeted change communications, organizational alignment, training and learning enablement, and ongoing support for sustaining big change across the organization. ISG OCM uses a tried-and-true methodology called the “Build-Up Approach” to gradually build up employee confidence, skill and will for the company’s new technology, processes and/or roles. This methodology helps people feel empowered to work in their new environment. It works with all types of IT implementations, including those around popular software like Oracle, SAP, Infor and ServiceNow.
- Digital transformation – The business world is keenly focused right now on digital transformation of all kinds to improve efficiency, competitiveness and profits. OCM can assist with managing the “people side” of the risk associated with these kinds of changes, such as the change that comes with a move to a cloud-first strategy or from a new interaction between IT and the business when a DevSecOps pod is formed to help with security during software development. OCM teams adapt many of the above techniques to the type of digital transformation, so they meet the specific needs of the company and its culture. Successful OCM programs in digital transformation need a strong focus on the behavioral change and cultural elements because, in many cases, innovation results in workers interacting and sharing information in new ways.
OCM can play a vital part in any type of big transformation, providing a type of “risk insurance” to help meet the intended business results. Industries from biotechnology to healthcare, consumer products, education, food and beverage, oil and gas, retail, insurance, utilities, the public sector and much more, use OCM to make sure their valued workers are included in the change process. This can help a company save money, increase productivity, reduce errors, and keep employee engagement and morale high.
Meredith Bilow, director at ISG, brings deep global experience from more than 50 organizational change management (OCM) engagements with companies of all sizes. She is an award-winning professional driven to realize clear value for customer transformation efforts through the use of change management, education and communications. Her work in IT operations, customer service and sales has given her experience in administrative and operational oversight, management of cash flow, sales cycle support and delivery oversight. She also provides OCM and end-user training delivery services directly to key clients. Meredith is certified in team building, leading through facilitation, and strategic thinking and planning.