Any change introduced in a company has some initial confrontation. There always are challenges associated with any change management process. For instance, Gujarat Industries Power Company Limited (GIPCL) when first introduced a canteen coupon management system (CCMS),which replaced the old system of paper coupons with proximity cards, it was not readily accepted by employees.
At GIPCL, the top three challenges encountered while going about change management process were people, process and technology.
1. People challenges: This is the toughest to handle and also the key to success of any change management process. This includes:
- Cultural: A company’s culture is part of the DNA of an organization, and may not be compromised on. It is a challenge to handle any new change which affects the company’s cultural values. At GIPCL, for example, frisking of employees by the security is considered inappropriate. This challenge was addressed by issuing the CCMS (canteen coupon management system) proximity cards. Employees have to swipe it in the canteen and their meal counts are recorded. The HR, too, can easily manage records and monitor the staff .
- Psychological: Employees develop resistance to change process as many times they fear of their work becoming transparent, thus mistakes/ inefficiencies getting highlighted. For instance, at GIPCL, it was after the management communicated to employees that they wouldn’t lose on any of their rights (for instance carrying forward the coupon balance) if they used proximity cards instead of coupons, they agreed for the change process.
- Intentional: At times, a few individuals may intentionally create issues to impede the change process. At appropriate level, this kind of intentions should be identified and addressed suitably by the management. A few GIPCL employees who didn’t want to use the system would regularly complain of the CCMS being cumbersome, complex, and slow. Finally, after regular communication and intervention by the senior management, their resistance to the change process diminished.
2. Process challenges: This is the second type of change management process challenge. This includes:
- Productivity improvement: Through technology usage may improve productivity, it may also increase workload or stress due to complexity of the new technology. This is another challenge associated with change management process and a fine balance needs to be struck. For example, we continue to issue meal coupons using the CCMS to people working in plant area to avoid mixing of orders of different employees.
- Process improvement: At times, a single technology may not assure process improvement; a combination of various systems would be needed and, thus increasing complexity for business users. Like at GIPCL, the enterprise wide document management solution was integrated with SAP to streamline business processes, thus leading to change management process challenges.
- Compliance: Compliance always poses a change management process challenge. For example, IFRS and XBRL enforce streamlining of financial processes. However, the time provided by the government/ regulatory authorities to be compliant is usually very less. Moreover, a lack of clear directions from the regulatory bodies/ compliance agencies further leads to resistance to the change process within the organization.
3. Technological challenges: These challenges are the easiest to handle. Make your change management process smooth by factoring in the following aspects:
- Let the technology deployment be business-driven: This will ensure cooperation of users at the time of deployment.
- Meeting business requirements: IT projects must strive to fulfill business requirement fully.
About the author: Lt Col. Shankar Gurkha is CIO at Gujarat Industries Power Company Limited (GIPCL). He has designed and built enterprise wide IT architecture including SAP ERP, data center, disaster recovery, WAN and the internet connectivity at GIPCL. Prior to this, he worked in electronics and mechanical engineering service of the Indian Army for 20 years where he contributed in the fields of engineering services, ERP, and IT management and simulation. He was awarded ’Army Commander’s Commendation card‘ for professional excellence on the Independence Day in 1998.
(As told to Anuradha Ramamirtham)