Training for cloud applications should focus less on system navigation and more on real-life, scenario-based experiences applying the functionality and data to enable strategic outcomes.
To deliver real transformation in an enterprise organisation you rely on a far more unpredictable factor - your people.
Unless people use the new technology and use it to its full potential then it will be rendered useless. To get the most out of cloud implementation and generate impact across the business, organisations need to rethink the traditional change management models.
Typically, user adoption has been approached through tried and tested change management methods.
However, whilst some principles of change management will always be relevant – for example a clear vision, leader-led change, tailored engagement – the nature of cloud implementations force us to rethink the step-by-step change management models:
1. Speed of implementation: Compared to on-premise solutions, cloud applications typically take between 25 to 50 per cent of the time to implement. This speed of implementation means that traditional, process-heavy change management approaches struggle to keep pace with deployment and place increased urgency on user readiness.
2. Delivery approach: Because most cloud applications are ready ‘out-of-the-box’, most implementations include the use of conference room pilots that enable users to make more informed design decisions whilst viewing the latest build of your technology. As the change journey is more tangible and faster; expectations around the technology need to be managed from the beginning of the project.
3. Rate of innovation and development: As public cloud applications are centrally hosted, upgrades and new releases can be managed in real time. Salesforce, for example, delivers three new releases per year, with over 150 new features in each release. This rate of innovation means that change management is an ongoing activity and must be more agile to keep pace. For example, by making change managers part of your cloud governance model to shape and plan the adoption of new features.
4. Intuitiveness of user experience: The simplicity and intuitiveness of cloud application user interfaces, greatly reduces the need for extensive training, which is typically a significant focus for change management in on-premise architectures.
5. Availability of data and insight to end user: Many cloud applications are designed to provide easy to interpret data and insights to business users in real time. This accessibility to data enables high quality decision making and increases the control of business users to drive outcomes. Change becomes even more about new ways of working.
Change management must enable a different mindset in its end users, focusing on change and learning agility and using the evolution of the tools to drive evolution of their personal and business performance.
The role of the change manager becomes one of coach to the business to lead the change for itself, putting business leaders front and centre as change champions.
As technology evolves and cloud becomes the new normal, the approach to change management must likewise evolve. Organisations' mindsets around change management need to be challenged and reframed:
Think opportunity, not impact: The Impact Assessment has long been the foundation of change management methodologies, and with good reason; how can we manage the change if we don’t know the impact of the change? However, traditional Impact Assessments often focus on the negative impacts of a change for example; what will I not be able to do in the future that I can do now? Or, how do I do what I do now in the new world? Cloud applications introduce the opportunity for completely new ways of working and new business models. Therefore, Impact Assessments should increase focus on the opportunities to transform. Practically, this means change leaders need to get cloud-savvy, and develop a vision around the opportunities of improved insights and decision quality, increased mobility, scalability and agility.
Think experiencing, not training: The simplicity and intuitiveness of the user interface bypasses the need for extensive training. Training for cloud applications should focus less on system navigation and more on real-life, scenario-based experiences applying the functionality and data to enable strategic outcomes. Users should be provided opportunities to ‘play’ with the software, experiencing the navigation and functionality for themselves rather than being formally taught how to use it. It also means that managers should be hands on with the technology, and management team meetings should include real-time dashboards showing performance, insights and adoption.
Think change champions, not change manager: The role of change manager has evolved as the focus moves away from success measures based on time and budget, to a focus on benefit realisation. However, in many cases project change management is still ‘outsourced’ to the change manager, including accountability for benefit realisation. The increased simplicity of a cloud implementation further increases the focus on driving business outcomes rather than the implementation itself. This puts accountability for benefit realisation firmly on the business. The role of the change manager becomes one of coach to the business to lead the change for itself, putting business leaders front and centre as change champions.
Think evolution management, not change management: Unlike traditional implementations, made up of a series of significant, discrete upgrades; cloud applications evolve with multiple releases and upgrades. Changes to functionality and interface are frequent as the applications are updated. Our approach to change management needs to adapt to enable this constant evolution. Change management must enable a different mindset in its end users, focusing on change and learning agility and using the evolution of the tools to drive evolution of their personal and business performance.
If the full potential of these technologies are to be exploited then change management itself must change to keep pace. As cloud applications evolve, the effective management of adoption, benefit realisation and user experience becomes more important than ever. When an enterprise embraces this new way of thinking it will harness the agility and speed of innovation enabled by the cloud.
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