The Role of Change Management in the Digital Age

5 minutes

As technology continues to develop, change management is more critical than ever.

Making long-lasting, impactful changes is difficult for any organisation. But, these changes are often necessary for a business to evolve and remain relevant. This is where companies can learn to make the most of change management. 

Change management is a structured approach to guiding an organisation through change. The changes carried out will depend on the organisation's processes and goals. But, for most organisations, change management will have similar vital intentions. There's often a drive to empower employees. This will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the workforce. In turn, businesses can gain an advantage over their competitors.

As technology continues to develop, change management is more critical than ever. Organisations are having to modernise their processes to keep up with emerging technologies. This has led to more organisations taking on digital transformation projects. But, even with the help of change management, most transformation projects fail.

Why digital transformation projects fail

There is a heightened focus on change and transformation projects. Yet, 70% of transformation projects fail. But, with all the information available, why does this happen?

Well, a transformation project can be a complex, ongoing process. And with that comes much room for things to go wrong. For example, an organisation might need more vision for its project. In turn, employees engage less because the goals are more complex.

Traditional transformation methods are often more expensive than first realised. This results in a need for more funding. The changes then need to be sustained, leaving an uncompleted project.

Digital transformation projects also fail due to an insufficient change management strategy. A change management strategy allows employees to understand and embrace change. In fact, with one in place, organisations are six times more likely to achieve project goals. 

It's no secret that organisations are more reliant on technology than ever. And there's no sign of this changing as we enter the digital age. This impacts the ever-changing role of change management. But when so many have failed, how does change management ensure a successful transformation project?  

Focus on digital strategy

Sometimes, organisations need to focus more on changing their structure and processes. This risks the concept of a digital strategy being neglected. However, with a digital strategy, organisations use digital initiatives to achieve business goals. Although the intended changes can be implemented without a digital strategy, this might move the organisation in the wrong direction. As a result, it will trail further behind its competitors. In theory, avoiding this is simple. Organisations need to ensure they are transitioning to a digital business model. This allows it to stay modern and relatable to its target demographic. Because of this, business efficiency improves. Goals are then achieved, maximising the results. 

Employee engagement 

When an organisation is undergoing significant changes, there needs to be a behaviour change. This ensures that the changes get made and are then sustained. But, quite often, people don't like change. This resistance usually comes from fear of change, job loss and a lack of trust. 

With that in mind, how are the goals of the transformation met? Well, that's where the leadership team needs to set strong examples. You don't want the team leading the change to be invisible. This will leave a group of employees needing to be more trusting of the changes. Instead, when the changes come from the top down, the employees are more likely to follow suit. 

Ensuring change goals are achieved relies on the right culture. For this to happen, there's a necessity for active leadership. This means communicating openly and listening to feedback and queries from employees. Involving employees in the discussion will create a positive environment. This will make the employees more relaxed about the process, leading them to embrace the changes. 

Use data 

It's no secret that businesses are using data more than ever. In fact, data analysis was the most in-demand skill in 2022. That's because data analytics allow companies to receive insight into their customer base. 

Data also assists with change management as it provides real-time updates. As a result, change managers make use of data-driven decision-making. Real-time data allows change managers to check a project's progress regularly. This means costly errors can be spotted before they develop, saving time and money. Then, when adverse developments occur, the Change Manager can react, allowing the organisation to pivot before it's too late.

This approach means Change Managers can see how key messages are being received. They can see if employees respond well to the instructions from their managers. This allows for extra support to be provided if necessary. All this is something which ensures employees stay engaged with the changes. Due to the easy access to data, the change management process is more tangible. Progress can be tracked, leading to more accurate results being achieved.

Close the skills gap

Going further into the digital age means advanced technologies are coming into businesses. Digital transformations allow enterprises to adapt to these technologies. This helps them optimise efficiency, improving profitability. But, having the right skills in place means companies can only sometimes make the most of new technologies.

This is what's referred to as a skill gap. Technology is developing too quickly for businesses, leaving them without the right skills. The digital skills gap is an issue for organisations all over the world. In fact, it's estimated that over half of the companies in the UK need the necessary tech skills. And in the coming years, this is only likely to increase. 

With the rate at which technology develops, this is a losing battle. But, there is a counter to the overwhelming skills gap. Upskilling employees is the best way to close the skills gap. This can be through apprenticeships, training, or coaching and mentoring. It's a cost-effective way of providing businesses with the skills they need. It also increases employee loyalty, which helps future-proof a business.  

Do you need a Change Manager to help with your digital transformation? We match industry-leading companies with talented Change Managers. Read our Project Solutions page to find out more.

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