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Change Management: Worried about transitioning to an automated process?

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It is quite understandable that many of us would not want to be disturbed from our comfort zone. If a system or process ain’t broken, why try to fix it? Or, worst still, what if the new process or system fails? 

Interestingly and contrary to this fear, we are prepared to invest time and money on personal or household matters without batting much of an eyelid. Take for examples washing machines, grinders, coffee machines, fridges, air conditioners, automobiles, etc.

So, how is this situation different in a business environment? Perhaps, the very journey of transition from an existing process could be scary for some. Is it that employees may not trust it or clients may disapprove? However, rest be assured, a good amount of planning, evaluation and execution should remove all apprehensions.

What. Planning stage should take care of what specific areas that you would want to automate. Draw up the pros and cons.  What does it entail - cost savings or process efficiency or resource optimisation or client experience? Once these factors are determined and look favourable, move to the next thought process of evaluation.

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How. Evaluation process begins with preparing a comprehensive document on how the process needs to run. This document will describe the desired end-to-end process, detailed workflows, specific templates or report formats, data safety & back-up features and enhancement capabilities so that the software can be built or codified accordingly. There could be off-the-shelf softwares that match your requirements or might even have much more to offer than expected. Be wary of the support, warranty and maintenance that is provided.

When, where and who. The final process is to ensure its water tight execution. Once you determine what is best suited for your business, perform the following: (i) decide the working team with explicit roles & responsibilities (ii) agree on time-bound milestones (iii) fix regular status review meetings (iv) draw up training & hand-holding sessions (v) write the scripts for the testing procedures (vi) ensure stakeholders approval process (vii) plan parallel runs, if required (viii) draft employee/stakeholders communication plans, and finally (ix) fix the launch or go-live date. Remember, if the go-live date is non-negotiable, then it is advisable to plan backwards from the go-live date to arrive at the starting date.

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Why. Regarding communication, it is very important to convey accurately and proactively the intent behind any major change to your employees or stakeholder or promoters. State clearly and convincingly the strong reasons for bringing in such a change. Nobody likes abrupt or absurd changes that do not make sense at all.  Most importantly, if there are organisational or structural changes leading to job or business redundancy, the emotional quotient of employees need to be taken care substantially.

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