Guide to change management for cloud software adoption

Change management for cloud software adoption — a guide for AEC businesses

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1. INTRODUCTION

2. THE PROBLEM WITH CHANGE

3. PHASE ONE: Planning and scope
a) Form your squad
i) Executive sponsor
ii) Success owner / change and adoption lead
iii) Champions / evangelists
iv) Project managers
v) Communications and marketing lead
vi) IT / technology lead

b) Find and acknowledge your champions
c) Identify personas
d) Think through scenarios
e) Assess your technical and organizational readiness
f) Think about long-term adoption

4. PHASE TWO: Implementing change
a) Stagger implementation
b) Share stories and demonstrate value
c) Educate
d) Communicate
e) Refine and build

5. PHASE THREE: Sustaining change
a) Collect and analyze feedback
b) Diagnose gaps (re-engage)
c) Celebrate success

6. ABOUT ENGAGE SQUARED


1. INTRODUCTION

Who was it who said, “change is the only constant in life”? Someone important, surely. Someone wise, we can assume. Someone right, that’s for sure.

Darwin pointed out that it’s not the strongest or the smartest that survive, but those “most adaptable to change”. We know it’s inevitable, we just need to master the flex it takes to go with it. And that rule is never truer than when it comes to our business tech. 

This guide is here to help you and yours stretch up.

We’re all about the best possible business advice and support we can offer for your built environment practice, here at Total Synergy. We’re so all about it that we know when we need to defer to a master practitioner to give you premier instruction — and that’s what we’ve done for this guide.

In these pages we help you limber up with an organizational agility legend. 

Claudia Piscitelli is the change and adoption lead at Engage Squared — the first Australian business consultancy and tech service provider recognized as a Microsoft Preferred Partner for Business Applications. We know, fancy! When it comes to managing change, Claudia knows her stuff.

Claudia helps businesses understand how to implement cloud technologies in a way that connects with their business strategy. We’re beyond pleased to present her guidance here on:

You and your AEC business are looking more flexible already — bend onward to success, champs. 

2. THE PROBLEM WITH CHANGE

Technology is changing every day, with increasing speed. Even if you don’t change business software, the software itself changes. That change translates directly into change in the workflows of yourself and your staff. 

So how can you not just deal with it, as an organization, but take control and leverage this change to gain a successful advantage? How can you use it to make a like a Trekkie and “live long and prosper”? In a business sense at least.

If change is inevitable and constant, then the important question for your business is, how do you make that change meaningful, impactful, and adhesive?

Our friend, change expert, Claudia Piscitelli sat down with us and gave us the answers. Those answers follow, in her very own words. We take our ever-changing hats off to you, Claudia. 

And to you, most excellent AEC reader, we hope you find this step-by-step guide to managing change in your business as accessible and invaluable as we have.

Planning and scope

3. PHASE ONE: Planning and scope

The first phase is planning and scope. In this stage there’s quite a lot of work that internal teams need to do to prepare for a change. Particularly when deploying a new cloud technology, whether it’s a full suite of products, like Office 365, or it’s just an individual product within that, like Microsoft Teams. 

How much time you spend in your planning phase varies depending on the size of the business. Typically, the preparation stage for a smaller company is anywhere from one to two months. A larger company takes two to three months’ worth of planning.

These are some of the things you need to consider during this phase of the change process:

a) Form your squad

A key part of this phase is to identify all the key stakeholders that will influence change in your business. This is the time to bring together your key business partners, or your squad — an executive sponsor, project managers, champions, communications lead, change and adoption lead, and your technology lead. If you’re a really small business, your communications lead and your adoption lead might be the same person. Whatever the size of the group it’s important that you identify and bring that core group of people together.

i) Executive sponsor

Executive sponsors drive successful change. They’re the ones who fund the project and it’s critical they show active and visible participation in the change — to lead by example. Using Office 365 as an example, an executive might model new behaviors by ignoring emails with attachments; they’ll wait until it comes as a document link to a shared portal like OneDrive or SharePoint. That way, they’re not only actively modelling the new behaviors but also showing full support for this new way of working.

Research shows that when a CEO or an executive member is open to change, the transformation is successful quite early on, and it usually cascades well throughout the rest of the business.

ii) Success owner / change and adoption lead

You need a person who is accountable for the overall success of the change project’s implementation. Someone to guide internal teams to do all the activities they need to do to make this change happen.

iii) Champions / evangelists

Usually our champions, or evangelists as they’re sometimes known, are people who have an interest in technology but are not officially part of a technology team. They’re generally the people across the business that are open to change and willing to try new things. They’re the type of people you want to identify at this early stage as part of your change network to bring some enthusiasm and ‘can-do’ attitude.

iv) Project managers

A project manager is responsible for the day-to-day tasks, like managing risks and dealing with issues. They’re usually a conduit between the IT stream, the change lead, and other stakeholders on the team.

v) Communications and marketing lead

Is there a particular staff member that can own the comms and marketing for the change project? There’s quite a lot of internal communication and awareness-driving that must happen throughout, so it’s important that messaging is consistent and is owned by one or two people.

vi) IT / technology lead

Lastly, your core team will need someone with technical expertise. People who have a deep understanding of how the technology works and understand the road map as well. Your technology lead is the one to drive your business’s technological readiness assessment in this phase.

b) Find and acknowledge your champions

Once you’ve identified people to be part of the change network, you’ll want to consider setting up a program of recognition for your champions. Small businesses might only need a couple of people. Big businesses are likely to form a whole community of people. A champion is anyone in the organization who wants and believes in the change but may not have the authority to make the change happen (and doesn’t have direct accountability for it). They might be early adopters of technology, have key or broad network range, or both. They are influencers who will do much of the work of implementing the change project on the ground. 

The role of champion is typically an addition to that person’s day job — they’re helping you drive this change. This makes it especially important to acknowledge that and show them the value of being a champion. You can demonstrate your appreciation in many ways; a certificate of recognition, letting the team member put the change into their KPIs so that it’s recognized during the next performance appraisal, awarding merchandise, etc.

c) Identify personas

At this stage you need to do identify your ‘personas’ — think about the various types of people in your business and how they are likely to use the technology. This will help you make the change relevant to individuals in your business. 

d) Think through scenarios

Once you’ve got your personas, think about common business scenarios for using the technology and how they fit with the different personas. At this point, it’s also important to think about and plan for potential resistance you might face. During this planning phase, it’s vitally important to map all of that out, so that you can start to put together mitigation strategies to reduce the noise and resistance you may get.

Framing the change though business scenarios is all about translating the technology into a language people will understand. Rather than saying, “we have this shiny new application you can use,” it’s about framing it as, “do you want to save an extra hour or two in your week?”, and then showing them how to do that, whether through more efficient meetings, better document collaboration or better team collaboration — whatever benefits the particular technology solution brings.

Once you’ve identified the business scenarios relevant to your business, it’s then about the prioritization and planning of those. For example, you may launch a campaign with one or two really key business scenarios that resonate across the business and tackle those first. Once you finish the campaign, you review adoption statistics to see if there’s been a change in how people use technology. Then you look at rolling out other scenarios. It’s also about giving people bite-size change rather than overloading them with all these new ways of working all at once.

e) Assess your technical and organizational readiness

Another really important thing to do in the planning and scope stage is to think about technical readiness and organizational readiness. These are two assessments that happen in tandem. 

Technical readiness involves things like checking the network performance to support your new cloud technology. It’s really important to make sure your company is set up from a technology standpoint to support whatever you’re rolling out. There’s no point rolling out a shiny new piece of technology if the network can’t cope with it. Get those fundamentals right to start and it will set you up for long-term success. 

Alongside that, you need to do an organizational readiness assessment. This involves looking at other changes in the works, the level of appetite for change in the company, and the overall sentiment about change within your business.

f) Think about long-term adoption

Regardless of whether it’s a business of 30 people or 15,000 people, changing behavior and embedding new ways of working takes time. You need to make sure you consider the different working styles across the business and leveraging your champions network — coaching them, upskilling them, making them experts in the technology — so they can continue influencing change long into the future, well after the program has completed.

Implementing change

4. PHASE TWO: Implementing change

At this point you’ve got your core team ready, your master change plan is set, and you’ve identified your champions. Congratulations! You’re all set to implement and influence change.

If you think back to all the effort and time dedicated in the first phase, you’d have established a clear purpose — a clear ‘why’ and a clear understanding of the ‘what’s in it for me’ (WIIFM) story — not just from a business perspective, but from a team and individual perspective too. 

Having a clear understanding of the why and WIIFM is what will set your initiative apart from the rest. It’s what’ll make your change initiative feel like the logical next step in the story that is your business, rather than just another tech roll-out. 

a) Stagger implementation

During this phase you’ll use your initial learnings, strategies and plans from phase one to begin boosting adoption through a series of activities. This should include targeted engagement with certain stakeholders across the business to build that solid foundation before jumping into a large, broad-scale launch. 

This means upskilling and coaching your key stakeholders first — your champion network, executive sponsor, middle managers, and IT support team. It’s important to plan your training and coaching efforts in a staggered way so that the change is seamless, and users have the best experience possible. For example, once you do your big bang launch, your IT support team may receive an influx of new requests and issues, so it’s important they’re upskilled first and are prepared well and truly before the change hits. Likewise, your executive sponsor needs to be able to ‘walk the talk’ and model the new behaviors that you want to coach throughout the business, so it’s important to invest time with them early on so they can fully embrace the change and fulfil their role as a sponsor. 

It’s really important to give each member of this extended change team all the skills and capabilities they need to support new users.  

b) Share stories and demonstrate value

Begin by targeting select groups in the early stages of your implementation, focusing on your innovators and your early adopters first. Get those two groups to start using the new tech before you start your mass launch to the rest of the business. 

Among other things, this will help to validate your approach and refine key activities such as your governance model. It’ll help distil your business scenarios, your education and support approach. It may also help you identify any skills gaps or behaviors that you didn’t pick up on in your initial planning. 

Targeting early adopters will also give you a really good opportunity to collect some real use-case examples that you can then share with the rest of the business when you do your broad-scale launch. For example, let’s say Jane from team A is using Microsoft Teams to centralize collaboration and communication across her projects. You could ask Jane to talk about the benefits, do a short video, or write a short blog post on what she experienced and how she found the platform really useful in her daily work. Then you can use those quotes throughout your communications when you do your big bang launch.

Collecting quotes and testimonials throughout will help you articulate the why, reinforce the change and demonstrate real value. 

c) Educate

Research tells us that a predominantly self-serve education model is typically the most effective approach for adult learning. It’s also a highly recommended approach for introducing new cloud technology, particularly products like Office 365 [and Synergy *wink*], because the software changes so frequently with updates and new features. You don’t want your staff relying on a classroom-based, face-to-face training model to learn new systems. It’s important that you teach them to fish, so they become accustomed to change and know where to go to access information or support. 

Notice that we’re talking about ‘education’ instead of just ‘training’ — this is because it’s so much bigger than simply training people on a new piece of technology. You’re coaching new behaviors and new working styles. That takes times and it needs an education frame of mind that asks:

It’s also really important to start with the basics, that is, application-based education like ‘Microsoft Teams 101’. In the early days, it’s about developing confidence — not competence. Once that’s done, you need to build. Habits are usually deeply ingrained in business culture, so you’ll quite often run into the, “but we’ve always done it this way”, attitude. Make sure to meet people where they’re at (in terms of technical literacy) to avoid anyone slipping back into old habits and resisting the change.

It’s a fine line that you need to straddle between the self-serve and the face-to-face engagement. There’s a really strong case for bringing groups of people together and running education sessions, whether it be physically face-to-face, or virtually through a live webinar. This type of training session is particularly powerful if you’re doing it with a team — for example, the finance team or the marketing team. Not so much for learning about the technology, as coming together to talk about how they, as a team, are going to use it in their particular context. It gets people thinking, “Oh, we could use it for this and, oh, we could use it for that”. 

So, it’s still essential to run some group education sessions. But once you’ve phased that out — because really, it’s not cost effective to keep delivering those sessions indefinitely — where do those teams go for support? This is why self-serve knowledge hub or pointing out the built-in support features, like Tell me in the Office suite is important.

d) Communicate

The purpose of communication is to build awareness and reinforce the change. It’s usually the first thing end users will see so it’s important to make sure you speak the same language as them and demonstrate value upfront.

Generally, in most businesses, there’s a proliferation of applications and systems that staff have to use. Those applications are quite often siloed and don’t ‘talk’ to each other, so, if you’re introducing another technology, another thing that someone has to learn, you’re going to want to make sure it’s framed through the lens of personal productivity gains, as well as providing context… remember that ‘why’ and ‘what’s in it for me’ story? This is where that comes to life.  

It’s really important during implementation to promote, through your communications, the use of the technology in terms of personal productivity gains and the outcomes that staff can achieve. You’ll struggle to build desire if you promote the technology itself first. 

One tactic for helping you achieve this is promoting your high-value business scenarios, or use cases, to key personas. So, you might have four, five, or six business scenarios that you’ve created. One of your business scenarios could be better team collaboration, or smarter meetings, or flexible working. Be sure to have a mixture of scenarios that are valuable to different people across the organization. For example, you might have frontline staff who don’t really need to know how to collaborate with their team on complex documents, because actually they’re answering the phone for most of the day, so you wouldn’t target a ‘document collaboration’  scenario to them. Make sure to marry your scenarios with the personas created during the planning stage and target your communication to your audience. 

e) Refine and build

Once your official launch activities are complete, it’s time to turn your attention to full value realization — this includes starting to think about more advanced business scenarios and education. Once users are more confident with the change, you’ll find that teams, particularly the more tech savvy ones, come back to you wanting to explore other capabilities. For example, they may want to build a flow to help automate a particular process or understand how to go paperless. So, make sure to account for this during implementation. 

Post-launch is also where you would look at making sure the full functionality of whatever technology you’re implementing is really being embraced and embedded into day-to-day work practices. Have your users really grasped this new change, or do they need more support? You can understand this by regularly monitoring your adoption measures and doing pulse checks throughout pre-launch, launch, and post-launch. 

Guaranteed, no one will get their change strategy and business scenarios absolutely perfect when they first launch. So, keep refining it. Use your adoption measures, real-time data, and feedback channels to keep tweaking as you go.

If you take one thing away, make it this: listen to your users and take a staggered approach to the change so you can learn and iterate throughout. 

Change management for cloud software adoption — Part three — Sustaining change

5. PHASE THREE: Sustaining change

This final phase is the most difficult to get right. If we think back to the first phase where we imagined our ultimate (changed) future state, getting to that ideal future ultimately relies on making the change stick in the long term. Ask yourself — how are we going to sustain this change six or 12 months from now? What measures are we going to put in place to track success? Ultimately, you’re changing behavior and successful behavior change requires time, continued investment, and focused effort. 

What a lot of businesses fail to do, once the bulk of implementation activities are complete, is map out a series of activities over the next six to 12 months to make the change really stick. Those activities should be benchmarked against a number of KPIs that track the speed of adoption and proficiency of use over time. This can be achieved by including measures such as active usage numbers, repeat usage, number of service desk calls, and staff surveys that track sentiment and capture quality feedback. 

But before setting KPIs, it’s important to stop and take a look back. Dedicate some time to taking stock of the activities implemented while your change initiative was in full swing. What was successful, what wasn’t successful? What were the lessons learnt?

a) Collect and analyze feedback

When collecting and analyzing feedback, you want to include a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods. This could include sending out surveys that leverage well-established measures, such as the Likert rating scale or multiple choice, to measure attitudes. It’s a good idea to balance these with some open-ended qualitative questions that give you rich, invaluable feedback from the people who are living and breathing the change every day. This could include questions like ‘What have you found most valuable about this change?’, or, ‘What have you found to be a struggle?’.

You’ve spent all this time planning, and great expense delivering and engaging with stakeholders across the business. Now it’s time to go back to those people and ask, ‘What’s actually changed in your world? How has this change improved your working life?’ Go and capture those stories by asking some nice, thought-provoking questions. For example, if you’ve made a brand around your change campaign, you could ask, ‘What does connected working mean to you?’, or, ‘How has connected working helped you better service our clients or community?’

The reason we capture feedback and collect data throughout the project is to inform the set of activities that need to happen post implementation. By collecting data in this way, you’re placing the needs of the user front and centre, rather than relying on your instinct about what should be done next. 

It’s also crucial to keep reporting in this phase. Cycling back to collect and analyze data. That means, if you’re rolling out a new technology for example, checking if there are particular periods or months where there’s higher usage than others. Trying to pinpoint why that could be and leveraging that in order to capitalize on the higher usage months.

b) Diagnose gaps (re-engage)

Where are there gaps? Where do we need to manage resistance? Asking these questions will help you pinpoint pockets of resistance and highlight teams or influential stakeholders that you may need to re-engage. 

When re-engaging team members, it’s important to provide them with the information they will find relevant and will hear. Make sure to tailor your messaging to the level of user you’re speaking to rather than relying on your standard key messages and party line. 

For example, if you need to re-engage a senior sponsor, you’d probably want to provide them with information on the projected return on investment for your change initiative, how you’ve improved productivity, or increased employee satisfaction. Make sure to couple this with the numbers and hard facts, something along the lines of ‘Our staff saved X number of hours, which attributed to X dollars saved as part of this initiative being rolled out.’ That’s what a sponsor — or any executive — wants to know about. They tend to be less interested in the nitty gritty details. It’s about how this change contributes to the big picture and strategic vision of the business. 

c) Celebrate success

Those rich user stories we talked about earlier can be used to celebrate the success of your change. Share those stories far and wide, so you can reinforce the change with other staff members. 

Usually people like to compare themselves with how their peers are using a particular system. They don’t really want to hear from the comms team, the change manager, or the IT manager about how great this new technology is. They want real examples, which is why it’s really important to collect and share those stories.

Celebrating success is all about demonstrating, in a meaningful way, how the new technology has enabled people to do their best work. Because, ultimately, it’s not about the technology, but helping businesses better service their customers, improve the employee experience and create lasting impact.  


6. ABOUT ENGAGE SQUARED

Engage Squared is on a mission to empower employees to enjoy work more — using Microsoft tools to make work more productive, collaborative and connected. 

They work with large organizations to empower teams and individuals to use new technology to work productively (by migrating to Office 365, undertaking adoption and change management campaigns and/or configuring information and records management solutions), to help their leaders connect with their staff (by developing powerful new intranets and digital workplaces built on modern SharePoint, and by rolling out Yammer), and to tailor Office 365 workloads to boost productivity (using all of the Microsoft 365 suite, including PowerApps and Power Automate).

Their values lie in their tenacity, sincerity, creativity, and agility, working alongside their clients in deploying the most beautiful modern intranets and Microsoft solutions to suit company needs. They work closely with their customers on user experience design, solution development, technology change and successful digital adoption.

Engage Squared’s change and governance teams have helped launched Microsoft Teams, Yammer and SharePoint into a range of top-tier Australian organizations — including the Department of Health and Human Services in Victoria, ANZ Bank, Telstra, RMIT University, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and IAG.

For more information, visit engagesq.com.


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