Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

  • November 9, 2017

How to Manage Change for ERP Cloud Success

Guest Author

By Kallol Basu, Senior OCM Consultant, Enterprise Application Services, TCS 

Cloud transformation is all around us. It’s not a singular new application, system, process, or behavior.  It’s not even just a more efficient workflow with streamlined user access to systems and data. Instead, it’s a combination of all of these elements.

Despite the abundance of benefits that come with cloud computing, organizations can only realize transformative change if all employees adapt to the cloud environment—which almost always requires new skills. Therefore, change management is an essential element to the success of cloud implementations.

The “People Impact” of Cloud Implementations

Cloud computing has dramatically changed the traditional functions of an IT team—from the business model to service delivery, as well as functional processes and expectations. Ignoring the “people impact” can put your cloud project on the path to failure.

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And since a successful project is what every organization wants, we recommend some key strategies to help you avoid a cloud disaster.

Engage an Executive

Gone are the days when leaders outsourced change management to HR consultants instead of taking accountability themselves. A cloud transformation initiative should be assigned to a dedicated C-suite executive who is empowered to connect stakeholders, break down organizational silos, and promote an innovative digital-first culture. This requires savvy relationship skills where the leader can corral people to collaborate and build trust.

You may consider using shared workspaces to create a constructive, dynamic environment where all stakeholders can collaborate. This helps give everyone a stake in the outcome, ensuring they are committed and on the same page. You might also invite top performers to meet face-to-face with business partners to understand the rationale and goals of the cloud solution—much like a product manager conducts market research to validate a new product. This helps to facilitate buy-in and support.

The bottom line: unless an executive leader is accountable for the “people impact” of the cloud initiative, transformation goals won’t be realized.

Rethink Your Change Management Approach

Iterative development processes, like agile and design thinking, have replaced old-school implementation methods. More than ever before, the user experience drives technology design. With such a dramatic shift, change management has to evolve, too. We call this “organizational change management 2.0,” or OCM 2.0, and we focus on employees, collaboration, and creativity as the core components of the new cloud solution.

Here are seven strategies to help you tailor your change management approach to enhance user adoption:

  1. Establish a digital council, led by a collaborative senior leader, to sponsor, define, and implement the digital project. The council should encourage innovation and strategic ideation, and ideally follow a defined charter.
  2. Develop a clear vision for digital change that includes the current state as well as the roadmap to achieve the cloud transformation. The vision should also identify talent gaps and include a training plan to help manage the cultural changes across the organization.
  3. Look for quick wins from low hanging fruit to speed the path to cloud benefits.
  4. Make sure your organization has the talent to support the cloud initiative—both during development and after the implementation. If you don’t have the appropriate skills in-house, hire additional talent from outside. To encourage your existing employees to keep pace with the changing technology landscape, make digital skills development part of performance appraisal system.
  5. Manage change as the implementation progresses and embed new processes, a common framework, language, and a set of tools across the organization to sustain change.
  6. Use innovative communication methods to disseminate key information and engage employees about the cloud transformation, such as collaboration platforms, an e-learning management system, vision and benefits videos, pop-up stands in reception areas, and microsites with information about the project.
  7. Use co-design methods to provide a collective experience so employees can get involved and help lead the project.

Don’t Forget Your IT Organization

Since any cloud initiative will almost certainly impact the IT organization, here are a few key strategies to manage the “people impact” in an IT organization:

  • Build enthusiasm and buy-in by including the IT staff when evaluating and selecting cloud services.
  • Give IT staff ample time to explore new technologies and provide training so people can build new skill sets and adapt to new roles and processes.
  • Identify points of change, plan for the corresponding impacts, and disseminate the appropriate information throughout the IT organization so that everyone feels empowered to work through the adjustment period.
  • Pinpoint those who may resist change and help them see the value and personal benefits from cloud transformation.

Without a doubt, a cloud implementation will impact people, processes, and policies—regardless of industry or sector. Pay attention to the “people impact” as you manage the transformational changes that come with cloud computing and your project can be a success.

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Dr Kallol Basu is a senior consultant with TCS’ Oracle practice specializing in organization change management (OCM). Across over 11 years in the industry, Kallol has worked on large business transformation initiatives, lending his expertise in the areas of program management, change management, and business process reengineering. A PhD in business transformation, Kallol has played an instrumental role in eight multi-year, multi-country customer programs and is a published author and regular speaker at global forums.

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Comments ( 2 )
  • SANTANU AICH Monday, November 13, 2017
    Excellent Article, very informative and practical. Thanks. Will wait to hear more from your experiences.
  • Michell Thursday, November 23, 2017
    Change Management requires adittional invesments, however Cloud projects are related to reduce costs including implementation costs, how you consider to drive this?
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