How to Embrace Change During a New Insurance Software Implementation
You know the saying, “change is the only constant in life”? Love it or hate it, change is inevitable and so it goes with successful group insurance software implementations. A well-planned change management program is critical for the adoption of a new policy administration platform and its processes. How well employees can adapt to these changes can significantly impact the success of an implementation and rollout to end-users.
Steps for Success
For group insurers looking to implement a new software platform, it is important to establish a clear change management plan with defined objectives and identified goals for success:
- Craft a vision and plan for change. Plans should include goals, KPIs, project stakeholders and team, and scope.
- Prepare the organization for change. Inform and support employees through the transition through surveys, interviews, and demos of the new system’s functionalities and features.
- Implement the changes. During the implementation process, change managers should focus on empowering employees to take the necessary steps to achieve the initiative’s goals.
- Embed Changes Within Company Culture and Practices. New organizational structures, workflows, controls, and reward systems must be well-planned to avoid backsliding.
- Review Progress and Analyze Results. Measure success factors and monitor pre- and post-change activities. These change efforts are critically important to help ensure a successful implementation and adoption by end-users.
Established or legacy processes, some of which are manual and may have been in practice for years, are now being upended. This change can be intimidating to those who have been using previous, entrenched methodologies for years. So, how do we counter resistant employees, especially those who interpret “change” and “system upgrades” to mean “disruption” at best, and “layoffs” at worst? In a word, communication.
Effective communication is one of the most important factors for change management to work. Research also shows that employees prefer to receive messages about organizational change from leaders at the top of their organization. This is why it’s critically important that organizational leaders understand the reason for the change and can clearly articulate it in a manner relevant across the organization. Through my years of running large scale change initiatives, I have observed that employees especially need to hear from the top down that the new platform does not signal job elimination. Instead, a modern system will empower the employees to do their jobs more efficiently and grow the organization without putting undue burden on existing employees.
Relationships and Tribal Knowledge
Understanding interrelationships between organizational units and processes, and the impact these relationships have on quality, productivity, and cost is at the heart of any change management initiative. Recognizing how they interconnect is critical to get key employees on board with the new system and vision for the company. Long-time employees may initially be the biggest change detractors, but they are often subject matter experts on established practices. Calling on these employees early and converting them into change champions can allow the organization to leverage their tribal knowledge from the start to provide important and often overlooked insights.
Staying the Course
It’s one thing to talk about a vision for a transformed organization, but quite another to ensure that it’s cascading down the organization until it becomes the “new normal.” Having “success champions,” or leadership from an accountable person(s) along the way is important for continued buy-in. Celebrating positive change management performance metrics (e.g., performance improvements, adherence to the implementation timeline, project KPI measurements, and employee attendance at training sessions) will be inspiring for all involved. Sharing and celebrating positive results that indicate improvement is a great way to boost company morale throughout the duration of the project, as well as build anticipation for its successful conclusion and rollout.
Investing time and effort into helping employees embrace change during new software implementations can only boost its success. With detailed preparation, defined objectives, renewed company culture, and consistent reviews of progress, this major change in your organization will be deemed a welcomed friend rather than an unwanted foe.
For more considerations and best practices for implementing a new policy administration system, read our Insight: How To: Implementation Best Practices