Considering how PLM and other digital platforms are adopted, one true constant with such deployments relates to business change: how organizations adapt to new processes and tools, how end-users learn and adopt new capabilities, and how their associated benefits get realized?
Internal and external changes influence how business operate, providing a balanced focus between “doing the right things” (being effective) and “doing things right” (being efficient)—to remain or become competitive. Broadly speaking, change associated with Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) comes from robust processes, closing change gaps from current practice, focusing on consistent data quality and accessibility, effective governance and adherence to process (people-driven), lean operating standards, automation, holistic data integration, coupled with continuous learning and organizational change management. Effective change relates to improvements that deliver measurable and timely value to the business; implicitly, this means change that is positively embraced by the organization—and its people.
In this post, we highlight critical elements of business change governance and the required contextual adaptation required to deliver successful PLM programs; this includes how to: a) communicate about the change with business change leads, b) educate key users, c) make key solution decisions, d) mitigate program risks, and e) provide continuous clarity and stakeholder alignment.
Interestingly, the Prosci definition of change management refers to “a structured and intentional approach to support people through change”; change relies on impacted employees to work differently, but also to behave differently—at all levels (see reference white-paper at bottom of this post for more insights from Prosci on this). When referring to PLM, discussions often start with the IT platform, process and data, whereas the core change actually relates to people: from impacted employees to leaders, supporting and external parties.
Business change: where to start?
Independently of the selected platform or technology, the key is to initiate the relevant internal change board or steering committee to regroup the relevant business stakeholders / decision makers and subject matter experts (SMEs, including business and PLM Solution Architects).
Typical business change governance includes considerations such as:
- Business strategy alignment to a clear and consistent vision, involving all perspectives across functions, including support functions such as IT, HR, procurement, sales and marketing, etc.
- Operational efficiency requirements based on current pain points: what works, what did not work and why previously (lessons learned).
- Employee engagement: how people learn, get motivated, take ownership of things.
- Value mapping and change roadmap based on actionable business storyboards and use cases, including clarity on where to start and the rational for it.
This cross-functional forum is to identify key improvement opportunities and priorities, not only from a corporate point of view (high-level direction), but from a practical and pragmatic (data-driven) perspective.
Based on the prioritised improvement scope, appointing a number of business change leads and key users / SMEs will help derive the relevant views and critical success factors.
A number of other stakeholders will be involved based on the required input / output:
- Business champions: budget holders, data and process owners; including operational and financial functions.
- Change leads: independently of seniority, the key experts and influencers across the business; possibly including supporters and detractors in order to address cultural issues and positively drive conflict to resolution.
- Key users: SMEs who are operating at the detail level and are able to work jointly with other to find solutions, and ultimately sign-off process change design, data and people related deployment.
- IT and platform architects: SMEs who are also operating at the detail level, making the link between business and technical detailed requirements.
- Support function leads: functional SMEs who can drive horizontal change at the organizational level, help with internal and external communication, either through employee collaboration, supporting learning path for personal development, role and organizational (re-)design internally, as well as supply chain commercial engagement and other external facing operating models.
Cross-functional stakeholder engagement and collaboration is key to business change implementation; looking at making a difference holistically across the value chain, but also fostering co-creation of value from technology and vendor selection to solution deployment and adoption.
Mitigating risks and maintaining the business case
Business change management imply transparency on what will change and why, when and how things will change, and about whom. Typically, the things you see in a PLM business case, including things that evolve as the solution gets designed, built and tested.
PLM related change is all about risk mitigation, understanding the implications of process changes, automation, adoption and data quality related challenges.
In the next part of this two-part post series, we will elaborate on how to manage effectively the steering committee, how to establish open and transparent reporting on implementation progress, how to measure delivery performance, assess and mitigate deployment risks, how to manage supplier performance and vendor relationships.
What are your thoughts?
- Prosci white-paper: An Introduction to Change Management.
This post was originally published on Momentum-PLM on 30 September 2020.
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