Implementation isn’t as easy as it sounds
Implementation might sound easy, but in practice, the results of circa 75% of implementation tracks in organizations paint a very different picture. Most projects fail, and that can sometimes even create a worse situation than before. This page will tell you about the most important factors in making implementations succeed, and the 5 biggest pitfalls to avoid. We’ll also present you our unique, comprehensive approach to implementation management.
Why do implementations fail or stall?
Implementation is a mix of implementation management and change management. A complete implementation project contains both sides of the coin.
Implementation isn’t just a matter of applying the hard side (technology), or using new processes and methods. The challenge is primarily in the soft (people) side of implementation: change management.
An implementation manager thus needs to possess skills from the hard side and soft side to successfully complete an implementation track. They need to understand change management. And a change manager needs to understand the hard side of implementation and how to apply it.
Implementing successfully: 2 sides of the coin
The strength of a successful implementation lies in connecting both sides of the coin, whether we’re talking about a small change like the implementation of a new BI tool, or a large-scale agile transition. By guiding people through the changes from the beginning, implementations of tools and processes go much more smoothly.
Measuring with support
You can only start measuring in your organization when you create a base of support. Your systems might be working perfectly, but when the skills and behavior aren’t aligned, you can expect trouble on the horizon. You can also expect trouble if there isn’t enough support.
Do you recognize the problems as illustrated in the examples below?
- You’ve completed a large-scale digitization program. Yet your employees keep holding on to old-fashioned paper-based ways of working.
- You’re in the middle of an agile transition. But you can’t convince your employees, and managers are still clinging to the old ways of management.
- You’re developed a new Business Analytics application for the organization to use. But people are disgruntled about the how and why of it.
- You’ve successfully implemented a new process. But after a short while, your employees end up falling back on the old process.
In these cases, the implementation management side of the change probably ruled the day, and not enough attention was paid to change management.
Why implementation fails
A selection of the biggest failure factors of implementation management:
1. Lack of clear and transparent communication
When an implementation isn’t communicated until a late stage or just foisted on employees suddenly, employees demonstrate a natural reaction: resistance. The will to embrace change is nowhere to be seen. It’s easier for them to continue as they have been.
2. Improperly identified stakeholders
Identifying stakeholders is an important part of implementation. There are several kinds of stakeholders:
It’s also necessary to know what types of stakeholders they are. That’s how to create, among other things, decision-makers, directors, judges, budget managers, users, influencers, etc. The question of which group the stakeholder is in is easy, the answer usually isn’t. This depends on the change that you want to manifest in your organization, and what your organization structure looks like.
3. Inadequate attention to attitudes and behavior of employees
Employees are often resistant to change. They don’t understand the use and necessity of yet another changed approach or tool or process. The trick is creating a base of support with these employees especially. Many organizations struggle with this.
Not only that, there is often also a culture of fear. In the case of large-scale changes, like an agile transition or switch to a flat organization where self-steering teams will be the new reality, managers and directors especially often experience fear. Fear of losing control and direction. And especially fear of what that means for their position in the organization.
You can see that self-steering teams are used to the newly acquired freedoms. At the same time, the fear often makes management tighten their grip. They want to keep holding the reins. That causes discontent and annoyance. That’s why it’s a possible factor for the failure of a change track.
4. Lack of commitment
The direction needs more than just words to show that they take the commitment and ownership seriously. They have to put that into practice and show the right example. Oftentimes, employees don’t see or feel their commitment. So then why should they show it?
5. Lack of clarity on the need for, and necessity of, change.
On a strategic and direction level, a changing course is usually easy to understand. For management and employees, it’s often much harder. Direction is negligent in translating the use and necessity for employees in a way that is understandable to them.
Our success formula for implementation management
The success formula for implementation management is a good balance between knowing, wanting, and doing. Only then can you successfully complete an implementation.
- The how and why is clear in all layers of the organization.
- There is a clear implementation plan, including a change plan.
- Communication is transparent and accessible.
- Both direct and indirect stakeholders get presentations, training, and workshops.
- Employees are part of the process from the beginning to create a base of support.
- Employees are kept up-to-date on developments regularly.
- A culture of commitment and ownership, both top-down and bottom-up.
- There is solid stakeholder management.
- Employees and departments understand each other’s roles.
- Employees feel heard and seen.
- The knowledge level of employees or the team is up-to-date.
- Employees possess the right mix of soft skills.
- Employees have the room to develop personally.
- The organization is designed for active learning.
- The organization is agile.
Examples of implementations
With over 10 years of implementation experience across large and small organizations, you can count on our expertise for:
- Implementing a new or changed strategy.
- Implementing a Business Intelligence system.
- Implementing Performance Management.
- Implementing a Balanced Scorecard.
- Implementing continuous improvement.
- Implementing a CRM system.
- Implementing agile transitions.
- Implementing a complete intelligent organization.
Depending on the size and complexity of your company and your level of ambition, an implementation can be realized as quickly as within 2 to 4 months.
Inspired by our vision and success formula?
Do you want to know more about implementation (management) and change management? Feel free to contact our change and implementation experts. They’re eager to help you.