A Celebration of Collaboration
I recently had the privilege of working on a technology conversion of a call center for a utility company. The original plan was to bring the call center on board just months after the rest of the user base, but as with many things in life, it did not go as expected.
While it was a long time in coming, the conversion ultimately was a raving success. Why? I believe three key strategies contributed. When put into practice, these strategies can enhance any kind of change your company takes on—whether in technology or other areas of your company.
1. Communicate openly and clearly.
This project—a conversion to a new IP system—was the epitome of great communication between members of the internal IT department and the call center stakeholders. When managing a change, it’s important to understand the perspectives of all involved parties. In this technology migration, key stakeholders included the IT department commissioned to make decisions, implement and support the technology going forward; the management of the department undergoing the change; and, very importantly, the daily users of the technology.
“Wishlists” from a technology’s daily users are a great source of input when building out a new system. These wishlists promote a sense of ownership and buy-in that no other process can. On the flip side, when those wishlist items are in conflict with how the technology is designed to function or create a management nightmare for IT, they need to be addressed. At those times we believe the best course of action is education. We let users know we understand their feature requests are important and give an alternative available in the purchased technology. It’s often a discussion that requires some leading and possibly a demonstration to make stakeholders (department managers and users) feel comfortable that their needs are being met.
2. Practice patience
. This is key. It’s rare that executives, department managers and the IT department are completely in sync on the desired pace of new technology implementation. Often behind-the-scenes elements must be in place to help ensure success. In the case of the utility call center conversion, after the company began using the new IP system, indicators suggested the network performance would have a negative impact on the call center’s quality of service.
Although there was a desire to move forward, honest discussion about the risks of doing so clearly showed patience was the best choice. The brakes were applied and the IT department regrouped, taking the time necessary to fix some major issues in the network design. The result? A 2-year delay that ended in a celebration and cupcake shower because the conversion was such a success. It was difficult telling the corporate executive team and project stakeholders a delay was needed. However, it proved to be the right choice—and the cupcakes provided by the call center stakeholders were a wonderful show of support for that tough decision.
3. Embrace change.
Many people simply do not like change, in part because change isn’t always implemented effectively. But change is often a very good thing. Part of the goal of any new project should be to focus on the benefits the change will provide to those involved can understand what’s in it for them. The more enhancements that can be identified and discussed in an exciting way before and during the process, the better the change environment will be. We suggest making a list of all positive changes that will result from the system implementation and sharing these with all parties affected. Help create positive anticipation for the good stuff that will be coming. Then maybe you, too, will be “showered” with cupcakes!
I hope these keys to positive implementation will help you succeed in any change coming your organization’s way. Remember to communicate, have patience and embrace the changes. We wish you much success in 2014!