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Lessons in digital change from ECM experts

Maureen Cueppers

Just imagine for a moment: Your company has finally allocated the budget to launch an enterprise content management system (ECM), and you’ve been given the job of leading the project. How should you proceed? After all, launching an ECM system is not just a matter of setting up the technology and it all runs like clockwork. The big challenge of an ECM project often lies in how well an organization prepares its employees for the digital change – before, during and even after the implementation. We spoke with SER’s project leaders and asked them for insights into what ensures successful change management in ECM projects. Here’s what we found out!

Get your employees on board

Markus Saladin, the ECM Program Leader at our customer Helvetia, once said, “We always say: People change people, not the system!” Our experts couldn’t agree more. That’s why they urge:

  • Create a story to help employees understand and see the improvements that will come with change. This builds trust and identification with the company and its targets.
  • Speaking of targets: Clearly identify and communicate project targets and value: E.g. “We want to speed up customer processes” vs. – much more specific – “We want to speed up customer response rates by 30% by launching customer eFiles across the company and giving the customer support team direct access to necessary customer information."
  • When it comes to getting employee buy-in, be sensitive to how people react to changes: resistance may come from pushing the change too much. If you don’t address the upcoming change enough, however, this might foster fear and anxiety. Which leads to the next point...
  • Learn how to manage the emotions of change; be able to answer questions like “why should we change something that works fine for us so far?” – it will pay off down the road. 
  • Don’t get overly technical: yes, you are modernizing IT – but don’t burden your employees with the technical details.

Various measures have proven successful to increase employee acceptance. Here are some effective communication channels that our experts have worked with:

  • An internal information platform to provide users project and/or product information, training overviews and details, videos, overview of ECM program team, connection to e-learning platform.
  • A newsletter serves a similar purpose as an information platform, but here employees get updates on status, milestones, timing, etc.
  • Intranet or employee magazine.
  • Project video: explaining the reasons behind the project, the necessity, the scope, the benefits, the impact on daily work, etc. Our customer Delvag, the insurance firm of the Lufthansa Group, was successful with this measure.
  • “Open house” days, e.g. at business areas affected by the ECM project. Employees are invited to spend the day experiencing how co-workers use the product and learn why they like it. This breaks down reservations people may have about using the product in their own area.
  • A project hotline.

Digitally transforming insurance

Learn here how Delvag has made insurance processes measurably more efficient while building employee buy-in.

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Define the ECM project team

Depending on the scope of your project, it would be wise to define the necessary roles and responsibilities of your ECM project team. Our experts advise setting up an ECM program office made up of various technical and organizational positions. This team leverages their experience in ECM projects, utilizes best practices, deploys a consistent methodology and ensures accountability. Our customer HANSA-FLEX, for example, sat down early on with its IT, data security officers, the board and department colleagues before kicking off the ECM project. Together, they ascertained the situation and decided on the best approach to rolling out the new ECM solution.

Here are a few of the key roles that our experts recommend considering:

On the business side

  • An ECM program leader, e.g. to manage the ECM program, establish targets, identify barriers, make decisions and hold overall responsibility, liaise with management, work with project managers.
  • Project managers, e.g. to manage (together with ECM program leader) overall resources, create a time plan, identify risks, liaise with business areas.
  • Legal and compliance specialists, e.g. to determine and fulfill eDiscovery and auditor requests, review content relevant to the legal situation, mitigate any legal risks.
  • Security specialists, e.g. to protect content, manage authorizations, user groups, enforce data security measures.

On the people side

  • Employee change management specialists, e.g. to create a positive climate for change, help employees to understand the scope of the change process, address fears (working with the workers’ council), set up activities and a communication plan, etc.
  • In-house and facilitators/trainers, e.g. to conduct training with key user groups
  • User champions: employees who not only support the change initiative, but they also have influence in their teams to gain acceptance and spread enthusiasm. They can persuade even the most reluctant co-workers.

There are many other roles on the business and people sides to support your ECM project, e.g. user experience specialists, information managers, application developers, process specialists, etc. Our experts recommend analyzing the needs and targets to determine which roles are required. For a deeper consultation, contact us directly to discuss your targets, the project plan, etc. We are here to support you throughout the digital change process.

Leading change

The people who will lead employees through the digital transition – executives, project leaders, HR, trainers, supervisors, power users, etc. – must see change management as one of their core responsibilities. This means demonstrating that they are fully invested and believe in the positive impact of change. Here’s what our ECM project managers recommend to leaders:

  • Communicate frequently the benefits and necessity of the ECM technology for user’s daily work – e.g. in newsletters, town hall meetings, intranet. Demonstrate the opportunities this new ECM system will provide users to enhance their career.
  • Take away your employees' fears. Talk to them. Help them understand it’s okay to make mistakes, especially in the initial phase. New processes and new work instructions should be explained to employees as clearly as possible. Give them time to learn the ropes of the new software!
  • Be a champion of change: Actively show support, enthusiasm and commitment to the project and project content.
  • Allow project members time to implement the project – not only on the side in addition to their daily business responsibilities.
  • Get a representative from the management team to be a part of project implementation. The project team needs to have the backing of the project by the management.
  • Celebrate successes and milestones: Acknowledge the achievement of project goals internally and externally.

The pay off? Digital agility

By establishing or successfully starting digital transformation in your company through effective change management, you are setting up two important things:

1) A culture of positive change among your team (i.e. change isn’t scary, it’s a good thing; we see the benefits in our daily work) and

2) A successfully implemented ECM project for sustainable digital agility. With an ECM platform such as Doxis, for example, you are able to scale across functions and locations and add digital solutions according to your dynamic future needs.

Company-wideECM platform

Maureen Cueppers

Hello there! My name is Maureen Cueppers and I’m the Head of Content & Communications at SER. Analyzing, breaking down and clearly explaining the trends & possibilities of intelligent content automation for our readers – this is always at the heart of my writing. A native of Oregon (USA), I’m a craft beer enthusiast and have 43 nicknames (the last time I counted).

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