Would you let $1M sit in the corner of your office collecting dust? Of course you wouldn't. You might spend it, invest it, or save it securely in a banking account. Why then would you make a significant investment in technology or process improvements without ensuring their use and therefore your return on your investment (ROI)? It makes sense that you would want to make sure your company employees were using the technology you purchased or executing the processes, but surprisingly, companies often cut that part out of the project budget; that part is what we call Organizational Change Management (OCM).
OCM is the discipline of preparing the organization for change, supporting the organization through each phase of the transition, and monitoring and evaluating the success after the transition period and making recommendations for ongoing adoption and improvement.
The way to get the most out of your technology investment is to have users fully leverage it to its intended purposes. Partnering with the users to understand how it will impact their daily lives is one tactic to ensure this. We often know what technology or process improvements mean to the company or organization as a whole but in order to implement it successfully we need to understand its impacts (positive and negative) at the micro level as well. There are three levels at which people experience change: Individual, Team, and Organization. People experience change as an Individual before they can experience that change at a Team or Organization level. That's why people often ask the "What's in it for me (WIFM)?" Considering the ROI for your project will most likely be realized through the synergy of the entire Organization adopting the new technology and supporting processes, change management efforts need to start at the Individual level first.
So what does that mean? How do you actually do that? The first step is developing a strategy that is not only Top-Down but also Bottoms-Up and Side-ways. Effective strategies will foster involvement at all levels in the organization to determine the impacts on individual roles and to develop a solution that has support throughout the organization before it is even implemented. Individuals are more likely to support changes that they have been a part of developing or about which they at least have been given opportunity to discuss. While these activities may elongate the project schedule, they should decrease the time until the ROI and other benefits are realized.
Back to our financial example, if you were to choose to spend the $1M, would you rely solely on the advice of a sales person in one store about your purchase? Would you consult your family? What about your spouse? While you are the ultimate decision maker, weighing the options and potential impacts of your purchase will enable you to make a truly informed decision and help you to attain the intended goals of your purchase. Similarly, investing in technology or business process improvements may not achieve your desired goals if the individuals using the technology and executing the processes do not understand, accept, and integrate them successfully into their daily routines.