Building a Foundation for PLM Success: Preparing for Change

How can organizations ensure that people accept the changes in their work flow that typically accompany the deployment of new enterprise software and solutions?

Training is obviously important but one of the most crucial initiatives comes earlier: Building real awareness and understanding of what lies ahead. In short, you need to give people ample time to digest and come to terms with changes and help them make the transition.

It’s natural to resist change. Most people are resistant to change. It’s true in our personal lives and in our professional lives. Yet some companies overlook this truism when they implement PLM software and other enterprise solutions. Instead, if they keep this reality front and center, they can greatly increase the likelihood of successful adoption.

Consider what happens when new software is introduced in an enterprise environment. Many people immediately question why they should have to learn something new, change their behavior, think differently, and/or interact differently with peers and colleagues. Even when there is frustration with existing tools and technology, there is comfort in sticking with a known quantity.

It takes time for people to give up their well-understood ways of performing tasks and doing their jobs. Yet many companies wait until just a few weeks before new software goes live to alert them to the change and announce new training.

This makes it incredibly challenging for people to prepare themselves for the change. Worse, it makes them resistant to the change, because they’re usually frustrated and resentful at being given so little consideration. At best, this slows down adoption and thus reduces the value of the new solution. In some cases, it even leads to revolts against the new technology which creates problems across the organization.

Paving a path to success. The good news is that organizations can turn this paradigm on its head by developing a simple yet well conceived communication plan that helps employees understand the value in the change. The key is to make sure end users understand three things:

  • How the new solution will help the company achieve its goals
  • Why the new software is important to them in their individual roles
  • How committed the organization is to helping them gain the skills needed to successfully use the software

When explaining the value of PLM or other solutions to the company, it’s critical to share the true driving factors.

At the same time, the organization must help employees understand how the change will positively impact each of them in their daily roles. Almost every employee is keen to better interact with their peers and colleagues. With that in mind, rather than focus on how PLM software helps better control product data, a company might want to highlight how the new software enables easier collaboration.

Once organizations get users intrigued about the new software and its possibilities, they need to clearly explain what will change in terms of processes and end users’ daily work. They also need to spell out how they will support users throughout the transition, not only with basic training but, ideally, with ongoing coaching, job aids, and on-call help.

Have you developed awareness programs for new solutions? What do you think works best?

Learn more about PTC’s approach to Enterprise Learning Programs for PLM.

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