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Change: Vital for Moving Forward, Yet Universally Challenging

| April 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

IBS Michael Mullin2

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Integrated Business Systems (IBS)
999 Riverview Drive, Suite 280
Totowa, NJ 07512

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Release Date: Monday, April 14, 2014

Media Contact: Christine Ziomek (201) 796-7788

Change: Vital for Moving Forward, Yet Universally Challenging
Good Change Management Practices Yield Successful Progress Initiatives

By Michael Mullin, President

Integrated Business Systems

Totowa, N.J.

April 14, 2014 – Change. Business leaders recognize that transformation is one of the most vital keys to successfully moving companies forward. They also know that it can be one of the most challenging hurdles. As a technology firm serving the commercial real estate industry, we are on the front lines of this operational paradox on a daily basis, and we constantly observe, first hand, the importance of good change management practices.

At its core, change is supposed to make things better. Yet even the simplest changes encounter some level of resistance. Why should management care? Every time a change effort fails, the resistance to new change efforts increases making it more difficult to obtain ownership and support for any new initiatives. By many estimates, 60 to 70 percent of change initiatives fail to meet their objectives.

Managing Change and Transition, published by Harvard Business School Press, identified seven implementation problems that occurred in at least 60 percent of 93 firms polled:

  • Implementation took more time than originally allocated (76 percent).
  • Major problems surfaced during implementation that had not been identified beforehand (74 percent).
  • Coordination of implementation activities (for example, task forces or committees) was not effective enough (66 percent).
  • Competing activities and crises distracted attention from implementing this strategic decision (64 percent).
  • Capabilities (skills and abilities) of employees involved with the implementation were not sufficient (63 percent).
  • Training and instruction given to lower-level employees were not adequate (62 percent).
  • Uncontrollable factors in the external environment had an adverse impact on implementation (60 percent).

Avoiding these pitfalls through effective change management is not an “event.” Rather, it is a process with an ultimate goal to make change happen on time and budget, with as much participation and involvement as possible. The best practices of change management include:

  • Establishing a clear link between the change and the business strategy.
  • Clear, unequivocal and consistent leadership.
  • Investments to implement and sustain the change.
  • The presence of quantifiable benefits – metrics for measurement.
  • Securing key stakeholders who are engaged in the process and who are involved early.
  • The integration of behavior changes with process and technology changes.
  • Continuous, targeted and personal communication that “sells” the change (not just communicates about the change).

These basic principles can be applied universally, across industry sectors and initiatives. Of course, situations will vary dramatically. Consider the implementation of a new branding initiative. If a company has a good marketing group, all the tools (a new logo, website, business cards and other documents, signage, etc.) will be ready to fall into place simultaneously on a specific date.

On the other hand, a commercial real estate company that has decided to change or upgrade its enterprise property management and accounting system faces a progressive rollout. You simply cannot turn on a new system on Monday, expect that people are immediately going to “get it,” and imagine that by Friday things will be up and running smoothly. Without excellent training and communication out in front, and the continued visible support of executive leadership, these types of longer-term projects have a tendency to wallow.

We often see clients who are excited about incorporating new functionality afforded by IBS system updates. Yet after the training and implementation, their employees are still doing things the “old” way. Frankly, familiar is frequently faster. However, better functionality moves operations forward. The IBS users who accomplish successful upgrades make sure their employees understand why the change is being made, and how it will benefit the organization. They also – after a short period of time – take away access to the older version of the application, forcing them out of their comfort zone and into the new environment.

So what about that built-in resistance? When people perceive themselves as losers in a change initiative, they resist the change; consequently, resisters can be expected each and every time. It may be helpful to identify people who have something to lose and anticipate how they will respond. Management should work with them to establish a sense of urgency and emphasize the benefits of the change – especially if they can make those benefits seem personal. Making them active partners in the process through new roles that represent genuine contributions and mitigate their losses also can help.

Remember: D * V * F > R. If Dissatisfaction with the present situation, multiplied by a Vision of what is possible, multiplied by First steps toward reaching the vision is greater than the Resistance to change, change will occur. However, if any one of the multipliers (D, V, or F) is zero, change will not occur.

On the other hand, if a critical mass of the organization has a common understanding and agrees on each of these elements (D, V, and F), organization-wide change can occur. It will not be easy, though. Change is hard. However, leadership that approaches change as culture – a way to improve their organization – has a definite advantage. Employing sound change management strategy can take that advantage to the next level.

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IBS is a 34-year-old boutique firm based in Totowa, N.J. Its real estate management system currently is used by more than 100 prominent commercial and residential owners, developers and managers in the New York/New Jersey region. The IBS software – written by real estate professionals – addresses virtually all property management, accounting and construction management tasks. The system today features an innovative, web-enabled product that continues to evolve through the periodic distribution of new releases, upgrades and modifications. The IBS business model offers truly turnkey solutions, from data conversion, hardware, customized software and installation to extensive on/off-site training, consulting, service and support. Additionally, IBS’ Network Services division offers full consulting, design, installation and support services.

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