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Most people hate change. Yes, even people in the IT industry – the very people who bring change to an organisation but who are often impatient with the poor users who don’t want their world turned upside down by a new system. A lack of acceptance of change by staff or a grudging acceptance, is a major reason why a new system might fail to deliver the expected business benefits. This can be overcome by recognising the need to help people deal with change and then creating a change management programme during the planning phase of a system implementation.

Training is not a change management programme, it is only one part of the programme. It is important to involve and educate people about what the new system is meant to achieve. User representatives should be involved right at the start – in the project planning workshop. Then there should be one or more workshops aimed at discussing any fears that people have; the perceived deficiencies of the existing system; recognition of the current state; and agreement of a future state to be achieved with a combination of the new system, and new and improved processes. Some staff may need skills training before any system training is undertaken. It is important to identify these needs and provide the required help. It is often a good idea to identify people capable of being mentors to other staff so that they can provide consolidation and reinforcement of skills after the system goes live.

A new system will not of itself deliver business benefits; all it does is provide the potential to deliver. Change management, education, training and good processes are needed to turn the potential into performance. Buying a Formula 1 car will not make you world champion, it won’t even make you a racing car driver – it only provides the potential. Likewise, implementing a new system will not of itself transform your company, but it will provide the potential, good people can turn the potential into performance.

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