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Five steps to initiate leadership buy-in for digital change

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As more organizations grow and transform through digital initiatives, there is a focus to invest in the implementation of new technology. In order for these implementations to be successful, the technical solution needs to be aligned with the culture, people, and processes of the organization. Leadership, stakeholders, and end users all need to be an active part of designing, testing, and validating that alignment in order to feel comfortable adopting the new technology.

Here are five steps organizations can take to help initiate the buy-in for digital change and drive active participation and ongoing support for technology implementations.

1. Ensure there is leadership buy-in. The leaders themselves must embrace the changes first in order to challenge and to motivate the rest of the organization. Leadership should be setting a unified vision for why the organization is investing in the technology and the expectation of behavior for departments and individuals that will be involved. Stakeholder and end user buy-in comes from the top levels encouraging and enabling their teams to be engaged throughout the process.

2. Use an experienced partner(s) for implementation services. Utilize a software partner and/or third party project management team that has a clear understanding of your industry and technology. You want a partner who has plenty of experience merging technical, procedural, and cultural requirements to design successful solutions, and is able to translate that process to fit your organization’s needs.

3. Define roles and responsibilities, including “champions” and a dedicated project team. The core project team should consist of internal participants from areas like IT or Project Management functions, as well as external participants from the experienced partners mentioned above. The dedicated project team will be change agents, responsible for communicating and motivating stakeholders through change. Additionally, identify champions within departments that are aligned with the leadership’s vision for the project. The champions should be enabled to drive decisions for their respective departments, train others, and involve them in designing the solution. The champions aid the project team in communicating and motivating change on a more individual level.

4. Understand the impact of change. Take time to learn from both the project sponsors and stakeholders alike the history, readiness, and capacity to change. There is often an emotional challenge that change presents on those individuals who have always done something one-way or have been with an organization for a long period. Getting to the route of these concerns will help in setting expectations and communications for ahead of the implementation.

5. Create a communication strategy. The dedicated project team should help drive the cadence and forms of communication, and should look to leadership for additional support on messaging to the entire organization. There are three key areas to cover when broadcasting the vision for implementing a new technology: articulate the need for change, demonstrate the support from leadership, and provide a guide to stakeholder roles and responsibilities. The best communication strategies are reinforced through regular, timely messages that are both informational and inspirational, and solicit feedback openly from stakeholders.

Managing the expectations for change early and often within a new technology implementation is crucial to project success. Organizations frequently make the mistake of addressing culture too late within the implementation process and miss the opportunity to build the infrastructure and processes needed to drive change, and ultimately, results.

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