Effective Change Management for Digital Transformation

Effective Change Management for Digital Transformation

Over 70% of change management programs fail to achieve their goals (McKinsey, 2015). While the pressure is on for asset owners & operators to adopt digital solutions, and quickly, most organisations are failing at ensuring those solutions are adopted and implemented effectively.

Prosci’s correlation data from over 2,000 data points and ten years shows that initiatives with excellent change management are six times more likely to meet objectives than those with poor change management.

Projects that utilise effective change management are six times more likely to be successful than those that do not, according to Prosci (2017). But change management is no longer the slow, strategic 5-year plan it once was; it’s an essential, competitive business strategy that can’t start soon enough.

Peter Barnard, Manager of Engineering Design and Technical Services at SA Power Networks, and his team won the 2017 Innovation in Change Award for their adoption of RedEye.

For Peter, the most common mistake in change management is telling people what they need in the first place, as opposed to asking.

“Even if you think you already know the right answer, don’t impose that decision on your team. Bring your team on the journey so they come to that answer as well,” said Peter.

This ensures early buy-in, allowing your team to drive the change organically and maximise adoption of the new solution.

Together with our critical infrastructure clients, we’re reinventing the way people work through successful change management and digital transformation.

Common Mistakes:

  • No communications plan and/or the only communication comes from top leadership.
  • Not including stakeholders, specifically end-users and influential front-end managers, in the change management process.
  • Not communicating the benefits clearly or early enough in the process.
  • Not getting buy-in from influential figures before making the change in the first place.
  • Ignoring vocal groups who are resistant to the change.
  • Thinking training is the only element of change management.
  • Starting change management after you’ve begun implementing a new system.

The Solution:

The change management process begins before you rollout a new solution. Your users should already know about the change, why it’s happening, and how it benefits them. This way, your team shows up to training excited to learn and will drive adoption internally. If they’re asking what the system is or why they’re here – you’re in trouble.

For Peter and his team, change management is the process of successfully overcoming resistance to change. “Resistance often comes when people don’t understand what you’re trying to achieve,” he said. “Change management is really about bringing people on the journey of understanding why we’re changing.”

Change management is complicated. It requires a specialised skillset to understand people and their motivators and to accurately identify different learning and communication styles. Great change management is empathetic, and utilises a range of tools to ensure your message is delivered, understood, valued, and implemented.

“If people see the value, they will be the change agent for you,” said Peter. “Let it take off organically.”

At RedEye, we use a combination of user-adoption activities that we tailor to each client and their unique team. This can include demos, Q&A sessions, videos, marketing emails, etc. to communicate change.

To Ensure Successful Change Management:
  • Promote the benefits the change will have on end-users and the business.
  • Identify stakeholder groups and the unique impact of the change for each group.
  • Bring users and influencers along for the ride, incorporating their input into the product to increase ownership.
  • Identify key influencers (potential detractors) and, where possible, include them in the project team.
  • Make people aware of the change, early and often. No one likes being blind-sided.
  • Ensure Project Managers and Change Managers work closely together on the project from the planning phase right through to post go-live.
  • Be empathetic and listen to the concerns of users – are objectors resistant to change in general, or unhappy with the specific solution?


Lessons Learnt:

It Starts with the Buying Process

 Change management starts during the buying process of your new solution. A thoughtful buying committee will include key stakeholders depending on how their organisation is set up and facilitate initial fact-finding to set the project up for success. This could be internal surveys or workshops that include the end-users to truly understand the problem, avoiding the “this department bought this solution, not us” mentality that roadblocks adoption.

Your solution provider’s proposal should include a section on how to successfully drive user adoption and ROI through change management activities. In order to successfully incorporate change management into project delivery, do the tasks in parallel.


Create a Culture of Change

“Cultivating a culture of change, a culture of agility, is essential to preparing your team for change,” said Peter.

It’s important not to talk negatively about change or the way your team handles change. Talk positively about change and take pride in being a team that changes. Language is important, and positively framing change will allow people to embrace it.

Encourage your team to be adaptive in their daily roles, so that larger changes are less of a shock to the system. SA Power Networks shift people’s desks and create spontaneous art murals in the stairwell; make change just something you do.


Involve Indirect & Influential Stakeholders

“Involve people who don’t have structural authority but are naturally leaders, whether they’re the GM or a tradesman on the frontline,” said Peter. “Talk about the benefits, and be willing to pull something and say no when it’s not working. Give your team the assurance that if it really doesn’t work you won’t use it.”

Don’t forget to ensure other department managers are on the journey with you. Even though other areas of the business may not use the platform or need it, give them visibility over what’s happening so they can join you on the journey.


If you’re still unsure exactly what a “digital transformation” is and why it’s imperative for your organisation to embrace one, try the following sources:

10 Step Guide to Digital Transformation

Take Your Digital Transformation Off Hold, featured in the Infrastructure Association of Queensland Yearbook 2019-2020


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