Change management in software adoption

software adoption

In business, the only certainty is change. Whether internal or external, recruitment, restructuring, transformation, or innovation, your stakeholders need guidance throughout the journey. Change management in software adoption is a strategy to plan ahead of digital transformation to ensure your organization and stakeholders are equipped for sustainable change. Implementing new software, new features, or updates? Change management processes create an itinerary for every step of the journey.

What is change management?

Change management is a group of processes used to plan and implement sustainable organizational changes. Without a simple framework, most, if not all, projects are destined for failure. With change management, you can manage the different stakeholders involved in your project for a better overview and control of the process. Change management is usually undertaken when new procedures or software applications are introduced, replaced, or upgraded.

Download our latest Practical Guide for Successful Change Management

5 Pillars of change management

Change management processes are designed to address various organizational pillars. Together, these 5 basic pillars support stakeholders towards change adoption. Though these pillars can vary, each is designed to clarify and facilitate the change step-by-step. Successful change is achieved through 5 stages:

  1. Sponsorship: Every transformation requires change leadership to advocate and articulate the causes for change across an organization. Change starts with leadership and has a trickle-down effect on managers, teams, departments, and eventually the entirety of the organization. Change leadership advocacy only stops when the process or software is no longer in use. 
  2. Organizational design: How will the structure of your organization adapt to support the change being implemented? This pillar helps determine the roles needed, the number of people involved, the assigned activities, and the time frame of the project. It helps create accountability for all stakeholders involved, including decision-makers, project leaders, and users. Were these tasks performed in conjunction with HR and management? 
  3. Stakeholder management: Once you’ve determined roles and responsibilities, it’s time to map out each stakeholder group directly or indirectly impacted by the change project. Identify the opportunities and risks as well as positive or negative impacts to anticipate the training communication and training they require. The key is to anticipate and plan ahead.
  4. Communication: Communication should be an ongoing activity with your stakeholders. It means the right people receive the right information at the right time through the appropriate channels. Timely and consistent communication on the status of a project from conception means no one is left behind. More concretely, it creates opportunities to uncover pain points, risks, and roadblocks to the resources required to help overcome them.
  5. Training: The final pillar is the training you implement to ensure the new process or software application is adopted. The ultimate goal of your change management processes is to achieve sustainable adoption. It requires a training plan, tailored support, and personalized training courses, to name a few. Is the training on budget? What are the KPIs, OKRs, quantitative and qualitative variables you’ll be measuring? takes place during the implementation of new digital tools and change management processes. It is also the state achieved by users once able to understand and leverage the full potential of their digital tools. More specifically, digital adoption is achieved once users can harness the functionalities and benefits of both their tools and change processes.

Why is change management important?

The enemy of change is resistance. Change management processes are one way to manage resistance to change in your organization. It’s the simple argument that any change impacting your stakeholders requires a plan to implement, monitor, and evaluate the project. The goal of change management is to help stakeholders understand and adopt organizational change for the best possible outcomes and ROI. 

But that’s not all. Change management is key to inscribing new organization, internal processes, software solutions, or changes in culture, long term. There is no sustainable change without successful change management adoption.

Who is concerned with change management?

Change management can concern individuals, one or several departments, or the entire organization:

  • C-suite: Change management at the C-suite level is where transformations and decisions are conceived. However, post-selection of change investments (new processes, software, positions, departments, etc.) the C-suite is often far removed, resurfacing only for updates or crisis management. Change management processes enable them to track the entire project at a distance.
  • Management: The real drivers of change tend to be the management department, including project management, project leaders, operational managers, training managers, HR, IT managers, etc. Change advocacy is a time-consuming addition to their day-to-day workload. Change management processes help create accountability and a timeline to fit into their schedule.
  • Employees: Last, but not least in the hierarchy, are your employees. The success of a change project rests entirely on the adoption of this group. Without change management processes, employees company-wide can easily lack the knowledge and confidence to achieve true adoption, resulting in misused, unused, or abandoned investments. 

What are the benefits of change management in software adoption?

The primary benefit of corporate change management is increased adoption, and more specifically software adoption. To do so, change management tackles existing issues surrounding onboarding, training, bad practices, misalignment, inefficiencies, and poorly managed change. Implemented correctly and concretely, change management increases the time to value of users and improves the ROI of your projects.

The key organizational benefits of change management include:

  • Tackling resistance to change
  • Enhanced onboarding and training
  • Improved employee efficiency and productivity 
  • Increased time to value of software applications
  • Reduced support and training costs 
  • Long-lasting, sustainable change management practices

What challenges does change management target?

The overarching goal of change management is to facilitate sustainable changes that stick. It requires identifying, preventing, and mitigating any barriers to successful and long-lasting implementation. 

  • Corporate culture

For reasons including size, maturity, and leadership, not all organizations have promoted the value of agility to their stakeholders. Without a company culture instilling the value of change and development, stakeholders can struggle with evolutions outside the status quo that directly impact the outcomes and ROI of inevitable change. 

  • Behavioral change

What skills, behaviors, and attitudes are needed to support sustainable change? Any change, personal or professional, is driven by actions. Are your stakeholders prepared to train, reskill or upskill? Do they understand and support the value of change?

  • Poor communication

There’s no ‘i’ in team. Poor communication can spread like wildfire creating problems ranging from lack of transparency, unclear objectives, and siloed teams to frustration, conflict, and low employee retention. 

  • Lack of user-centricity

User centricity is an easy buzzword to use but extremely difficult to implement. User-centricity depends on real experiences, communication, and feedback to place user needs directly at the center of their solutions.

  • Inadequate training & onboarding

Inadequate training and onboarding are like a bad first impression, quick to stick and hard to forget. Whether it’s a new process, new software, or new hire, clear change management processes help create a purposeful and targeted learning framework.

  • Quantitative and qualitative evaluation

There is no proof of success without quantitative and qualitative measurement. Change management guides realistic expectations, measurables, and evaluation of project progress by determining OKRs and KPIs at the start of the project.

  • Low adoption rate

A low adoption rate rarely comes down to a poor tool or substandard process, but rather how it was implemented. 

How to build a change management plan?

  1. Adopt a well-structured methodology from the start
  2. Anticipate potential points of resistance
  3. Communicate clearly before, during, and after project deployment 
  4. Engage all project stakeholders
  5. Adapt and personalize your messaging, support, and actions
  6. Train employees throughout the project 
  7. Interact with employees from the bottom up and from the top down
  8. Measure the impact of employee performance and change management processes
  9. Tune in on your employees
  10. Keep the conversation going

Download our straightforward guide to build your change management plan

Popular change management models

1. ADKAR’s change management model

The ADKAR change management model consists of 5 elements that address the challenges of employee adoption. The model suggests that successful organizational change can only occur when individuals change.

Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement.

2. McKinsey 7-S Model

The McKinsey 7-S framework is a constellation of interrelated influencing an organization’s ability to change. The 7 components must each work together to achieve effective change management.  

Structure, Strategy, Staff, Style, Systems, Shared Values, and Skills.

3. John Kotter’s 8-step change model

Kotter’s 8-step process was developed for change leaders as an easy-to-use guide. Each stage was designed to prevent and overcome resistance to large-scale organizational change.

  1. Create a sense of urgency
  2. Build a guiding coalition
  3. Form a strategic vision and initiatives
  4. Enlist a volunteer army
  5. Enable action by removing barriers
  6. Generate short-term wins
  7. Sustain acceleration
  8. Institute change

Client use cases supported by a DAP in their change management project

Change management can be executed across all departments or industries. If your organization is carrying out significant or complex change, it’s the right time to implement change management processes.

The following client use cases explore change management challenges supported by a digital adoption platform. 

  • Main challenge

A large company in the luxury sector struggled to standardize international training assets across their internal tools (HRIS, Purchasing system, invoice archive). Challenges included the formation of support and training content suited to a global audience in several languages.

With Lemon Learning, they were able to:

  • Use the DAP as a centralized training, communication, and management tool
  • Receive support in the design of training and support content
  • Efficiently translate content assets into the several languages inside the DAP
  • Train internal teams to autonomy in the design of their future content 
  • Main challenge

A large company with offices located across 10 countries in the automotive industry struggled to reduce costs using their CRM. Their main challenge was to implement Salesforce correctly and, as a result, drastically reduce training costs. 

With Lemon Learning, they were able to:

  • Co-design content assets adapted to the practices of different countries and regions
  • Pedagogically segment according to end-users and regions of use
  • Efficiently translate content assets into several languages inside the DAP
  • Train internal teams to autonomy in the design of their future content 
  • Main challenge

A large company in the energy sector needed support to implement the Ivalua purchasing system in its head office of thousands of users. Challenges included the design of onboarding and training assets to facilitate understanding of the tool. 

With Lemon Learning, they were able to:

  • Deploy interactive training guides within Ivalua to support user onboarding for 4000 users
  • Facilitate end-user training and understanding of the purchasing system
  • Communicate with users directly inside Ivalua using push notifications
  • Receive support in the design of training and support content
  • Organize training workshops to train internal teams to autonomy in the design of their future content

The role of digital adoption in change management

The change management process can be supported by organizational-culture, communication, collaboration, documentation and not least, software! The change management use cases above were supported by a digital adoption platform (DAP). Whether it’s a CRMERPHRISProcurement system, in-house tool or any other web based application, a digital adoption platform can facilitate continuous change management in several ways.

Lemon Learning DAP features

  • Customizable workflows (targeted training content)
  • Customizable support (embedded application support available 24/7)
  • Analytics (in depth user analytics in real time)
  • In-app messaging (streamlined communication, new feature or update announcement?) 

DAP Benefits

  • Digital adoption
  • Increased time to value of users
  • Increased user productivity
  • Increased change project ROI
  • Reduced training costs

Sarah C

Sarah oversees all things inbound marketing, exploring the many business uses and topics surrounding digital adoption. Her previous experiences include B2C and product marketing in the social listening space, uncovering emerging industry trends.
New software and change management: where to start?

New software and change management: where to start?

ERP, HRIS, CRM or even purchasing tools: there are countless new software tools that have become essential for companies. Although implementing these new tools is a big challenge, there’s another one just as important: software adoption. So how to help employees master their software tools and actually use them? Here’s how to drive step-by-step software adoption in your company.