Change management: how to facilitate the adoption of a new solution by business users?
Your market is evolving and practices are going digital. Increasingly, you need new solutions to meet your business challenges.
Whether in pricing or supply chain management, you can’t climb Everest in flip-flops.
The stakes of competitiveness and profitability are so high that you need granular information, real-time data and forecasts, and projections. So you’re going to have to abandon your old Excel spreadsheets or your all-in-one tool, developed in-house a few years ago, in favor of best-of-breed solutions.
If you’ve ever led the implementation of a new tool, you’re probably aware that change management goes beyond tool-related aspects and functional requirements.
The move towards new solutions invariably involves underlying emotional and social challenges.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how you can integrate all these issues into your change management to facilitate the adoption of a new solution internally.
What are the challenges involved in implementing a new solution?
Functional needs are the most obvious issues when it comes to changing a solution. They represent the tip of the iceberg. These are all process requirements and how the new solution is expected to improve them.
In the first instance, the change of solution is the result of the identification of functional and/or business needs. Very often, the desire for change stems from the realization of an inadequacy or a need for evolution driven by market demand. The current solution doesn’t go as far as we’d like. It is no longer adapted (or adaptable) to our competitive environment, our needs or the evolution of best practices.
Mathieu Louchez, Pricing and Assortment Leader at Boulanger, points to the need for evolution as the driving force behind the search for a new pricing solution:
« The problem we had was that our tool had served its purpose well, but wasn’t allowing for any real evolution. We were rather limited in our daily tasks. The competition has diversified considerably, but the tool only allowed us to set a single strategy, or even a single rule for the whole company. It was rather time-consuming. The parameter-setting process was long and tedious, discouraging frequent modifications. That’s what prompted us to change. »
Functional requirements are the needs expressed by users (and IT teams too) when asked about the solution. But there are other, less obvious needs to consider when changing solutions.
Implementing a new solution has repercussions for everyone involved. Beyond the expectations of decision-makers (efficiency, profitability, performance, etc.), it impacts all the users concerned in several ways.
The functional aspects cover what users would actually like to achieve with the new solution. In general, these are the needs that the company will list in the specifications that will guide its choice and exchanges with suppliers.
But change is not limited to functional aspects. In a situation of change, the emotional aspects are also important.
The question here is: how does the user really feel about the problems encountered, and above all, how does he perceive the new solution?
Some employees have a strong aversion to change. You come up against remarks such as “why change?”, “we’ve always done it this way”… Behind this reticence lies a sometimes deep-seated fear of change. They fear that they will no longer be useful, that they will be “replaced” by the tool, that their missions will evolve in a direction that seems unclear to them, …
Change management cannot ignore these feelings. Project managers need to integrate this into their thinking, and find solutions to meet these emotional challenges. In practice, this means reassuring, training and supporting teams.
A change of solution also has a social impact: social issues concern how the user would like to be perceived.
For the company, adopting a new solution is a way of adapting to (or anticipating) the evolution of its market. So there’s a social issue for the project manager: showing management that you’re on the ball, or that you’re one step ahead.
Social issues also concern users. How will they be perceived socially?
Imagine meeting colleagues at a trade show. They informally discuss their processes. If they claim that calculating prices with their new solution takes half the time, they’ll arouse interest and admiration.
Internally, too, a new solution will have social repercussions. If you’re a pricer and you give store managers or franchisees prices that help them improve their margins, you’re more likely to be appreciated, listened to and valued.
Successful change management is based on taking all the issues into account. Let’s take a closer look at the steps you need to take to successfully implement your new solution.
Stages in the implementation of a new solution
Formalize requirements in specifications
Drawing up specifications is generally the first step in implementing a new solution.
The specifications are a communication document for partners:
- It serves as a guide in the choice of solution
- It facilitates communication with the chosen editor
But it is also a change management tool. To formalize it, you must first gather user needs of all the departments involved in the solution. Drawing up specifications requires all the stakeholders involved are aligned around a shared understanding of the problems encountered and what the new solution should look like.
However, SaaS project specifications are often 80% functional and 20% management-oriented. Yet 80% of success depends on management.
It’s the human, emotional and social stakes that largely determine the success of the project.
Involve a "pilot team" right from the start of the project
As a decision-maker, you know that a change of solution is necessary. But this transformation cannot take place without the involvement and commitment of users, who are the first to be affected.
A forced transformation, imposed by management, would be counter-productive. Employees must make change their own. The challenge is to include them in the dynamic. It’s the best way to meet their functional, emotional and social needs.
Specifications are a first step, but business needs are not fixed. It’s not unusual for them to evolve over the course of the project and exchanges with the publisher. Discussions with the editor help prioritize needs and limit implementation time. Arbitration is then between the applicant and the publisher.
In this context, it is important to involve the teams. This is what Mathieu Louchez has done for the implementation of Optimix at Boulanger, with the creation of dedicated in-house teams to co-construct the project:
- Pricing Team
- Informatic Team
« Each project manager created a small, select team that we took along throughout the project. This has enabled us to work on a sound basis. The key to success was the right mix of business and Optimix teams. So we went to Boulanger to find product leaders and sales pilots so that they could take part in the workshops, and so that we could be sure that business issues were taken into account. »
Co-building with your solution provider
Once the in-house project teams have been set up, it’s the exchanges with the publisher that enable the project to move forward in the desired direction. The progress of discussions facilitates the framing of the project.
As part of the implementation of the Optimix solution, Boulanger created a framework file to formalize the following points:
On this basis, the project progresses smoothly between the two parties, to meet objectives, functional scope and deadlines.
From POC to final solution implementation
While solution implementation time is one of the most important issues, the POC is a crucial stage in the success of a project.
It involves small-scale testing of the solution’s implementation with pilot users.. Feedback from these first users feeds into the rest of the project, either validating it or highlighting areas for improvement.
Once the POC has been validated, the project obtains a GO, and we then move on to the build phase, or co-construction of the finalized version of the solution, with the final parameters and desired evolutions. Then, finally, comes the final deployment.
At Boulanger, the roll-out was gradual, by product perimeter, and then accelerated in view of the initial results and rapid adoption by the teams concerned.
How Optimix can help you manage change ?
As you can see, adopting a new solution isn’t simply a matter of changing tools. There are many issues at stake, and above and beyond meeting functional requirements, you need to ask yourself how you can ensure that the new solution is adopted by business teams.
Internal project management plays a key role in adoption, but the role of the publisher should not be underestimated. Your editor is not just a solution provider. It is also a facilitator of change. At least, that’s how we see our support at Optimix.
Our teams are made up of retail professionals who have a thorough understanding of their teams’ issues and the challenges facing their businesses. Our solutions are designed to meet business needs, and our support to meet the challenges of adoption.
In our dealings with retailers’ project managers, we give priority to proximity and co-construction.. Together with our customer teams, we strive to optimize the user experience.
As part of the Boulanger project, for example, we appointed two project managers (business and technical) to liaise with the customer on a regular basis. We have committed ourselves to a partnership approach, to detect new developments or business gestures and propose new improvements.
Keep in mind that implementing a solution transcends functional issues. To facilitate adoption of the tool by business users and guarantee the success of the project, co-construction and support from the editor are essential!
Find out more about our business solutions and support. Contact us for a demo.