Change Management in action! Read how we rebuilt trust between end users, management and IT.
Context of the client
Our client is an end-to-end transportation service provider. They offer their customers a wide variety of end-to-end transportation solutions to ship their cargo across Europe, where our client exploits a complex tapestry of fulfilment centres.
Our client’s transport solutions are customized towards their customers’ environmental, economic and other needs. To offer this kind of integrated service, our client has massive working capital demands.
To ensure the survival, profitability and growth of the business in the long-term, our client therefore has to invest heavily in their IT-capabilities. By equipping their employees in the field with the right tools, they can support them towards ever greater efficiency. These digital tools furthermore allow for the large-scale analysis of data, which our client wants to use to improve the companies’ performance even further.
Prior to SteepConsult’s mission, our client had decided to completely redevelop one of the cornerstone apps on which they had built their new digital strategy. The app in question was used heavily on a daily basis by all their fulfilment operatives and was due for a revamp to keep it future proof.
Owing to the great pressure behind this project, and the need to increase efficiency as rapidly as possible, the new iteration of the app was released before it was ready. Shortcuts were taken and the app’s end users were not as involved as they should have been during the development process.
Change Management Challenges of our client
The labour conditions under which our client’s fulfilment operatives have to work are not
Given these challenges, the fulfilment operatives were not happy to discover that their primary tool was being replaced by a new iteration that did not take their needs into account, failed to properly work half-of-the-time and thus forced them into a suboptimal way of working.
In fact, the end users – fulfilment operatives and their coordinators – were so dissatisfied with the project, that they refused to use the new iteration. The storm of protest only died down after management decided to roll back the new iteration and restore access to the old app.
On the project side, the app has acquired a toxic internal reputation. Employee turnover on this specific project was sky-high and the total overspend was beyond any project manager’s wildest nightmares.
Root causes of the challenges
Workers and their coordinators in the field are highly frustrated. Management is never seen on the shop floor, yet it determines unilaterally how end users should conduct their work. Fulfilment operatives do not trust management decisions, as projects are abandoned and picked up again, causing significant problems for the people in the field.
Meanwhile, the needs of the worker and coordinators are largely ignored. For example, equipment requested is not furnished nor are their vandalized workspace repaired.
This has created an atmosphere of distrust, which has been exacerbated by the forceful implementation of the latest app iteration. Staff members have revolted and are leaving the organization in droves towards competitors. This significantly increases the stress on the remaining employees, who are now even more overloaded with work.
Goals of our mission
In seven months, our consultants needed to ensure 100% user adoption rate of the new application, including its new limitations and new functionalities this implied.
Furthermore, this had be done without incurring major additional expenses to the project.
Step 1: being seen as the peacemaker
Restoring trust between two parties who have despised each other for years is no small task. Even as an external facilitator. SteepConsult therefore opted for a strategy of proximity.
Our consultants visited every single fulfilment centre of the client. More importantly however is that they stayed there. Day in day out, our consultants emphatically listened to end-users’ concerns, allowed them to vent their frustrations and took steps to restore a degree of psychological security in the workplace.
Step 2: Getting user adoption by being their voice at management level
We started creating rapport with end users by following four simple steps:
- Simply listening to their issues
- Giving them trainings on the new app
- Performing test runs to identify what hindered user adoption
- Conducting interviews to identify root causes of the problems
Our tests and interviews enabled us to create an overview of desired changes in the app. These were submitted to management alongside a recommendation on how to make the most optimal use of scarce resources. Sometimes, this meant challenging outdated assumptions that were causing harm to our client’s success.
The proximity of our consultants and their transparency towards end users and management alike was strongly appreciated. By clarifying what was feasible, everyone understood each other better. This soon paid dividends. Fulfilment operatives started to engage more and more with the project, while management was overwhelmed with the rapid increase in user adoption.
Methodologies and tools
Due to the specificities and complexity of the tasks at hand, no step-by-step method fit our mission goals. We thus combined tactics from ADKAR, Lean, emphatic listening, and a great deal of common sense to construct a change strategy focused on empathy.
- Trust is progressively being restored
- Starting from a baseline of 0%, user adoption is now at 90% and rising
- Management understands the importance of being present in these stations
- End users feel they finally are involved in the changes that impact them
Or, as one of the Project Managers at client’s side once said:
“SteepConsult’s approach should serve as the template for all future projects.”