IT change enablement

Why Higher Ed must learn the art of IT change enablement

Enterprise IT implementations are never easy. But meeting the challenges in the modern world of Higher Education will require technology that can get the job done, and adapt to the evolving requirements of your institution.

Forward-thinking higher education institutions know that digital transformation can energize efficiency, learning, and research. But success isn't merely about having the right tech and enough budget — you need an implementation that everyone buys into. There's an art to this.  

A while back, PWC unearthed a remarkable fact: At universities with outdated systems, 40% of academics’ time was spent on administrative tasks.

Since then, the workload may have grown further — with extra precautions and delivery models around COVID-19 for the new academic year, plus all the uncertainty around enrollment, restricted funding, equitable access to education, and Brexit (if you're in the UK or Europe).

So the prospect of a new, people-centric digital solution — that help you overcome disjointed manual systems, streamlines processes and frees up time — will provide much-needed respite for busy staff with more important strategic and student-facing work to do. More than that, it's essential for long-term viability for higher ed institutions. But success depends on getting implementation right.

Effective Organizational Change Management is essential for any major IT system being rolled out – and maybe for any major change at all.

Project sponsors and leadership must never lose sight of the project's big vision — and be able to articulate this clearly. But they must also approach the people side of any transition with patience and empathy.

Every change initiative will impact how people work in some way. For some, it could mean processes and workflows look radically different. For others, their jobs may have changed fundamentally — which creates uncertainty. Let's not also forget that COVID-19 may have added extra stress in some people's personal lives.

Each individual will have a unique response. And it's just as important to engage with those who are enthusiastic as with those who feel anxious or skeptical.

Change is a learning process – that takes time and effort, from those early communications through to user acceptance testing and getting everyone to drive the most value from your new investment.

So how do you lay the groundwork for a successful implementation?

The art of Change Enablement

Change Enablement is a 'must' for any significant IT project. It's the art of removing barriers to change so you can allow new competencies, habits, skills, and practices to flourish.

The four key ingredients are participation, communication, learning, and relationships. The real skill here is blending these so they cannot be separated. Get this right and you'll increase employee engagement, manage transitions, and leverage new technology in transformative ways.

Here are three practical steps that will support Change Enablement:

Step #1: Acknowledge each individual's responses to change and encourage them to determine what they need to be successful. This might mean more tools or training.

Step #2: Allocate time for learning, set objectives, and then reward people for their learning achievements and any positive impact on their work.

Step #3: Establish cross-departmental teams and give them the responsibility to find solutions to a particular challenge. Connect these teams with leaders who can act on their recommendations.

Turn people into players

If you adopt a Change Enablement approach, people are far more likely to recognize the advantages of your new Student Information System (SIS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Human Capital Management (HCM), or Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) solution.

They'll see themselves as active participants and beneficiaries, rather than part of an 'old world' being swept away by a new one. You'll accelerate time to value — and the journey will be far more enjoyable for everyone.

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