Transforming fear of change into positive support.

    Graeme Warnell has overseen the implementation of maintenance management systems for businesses of all sizes, including multinational corporations such as BP. Here he explains the best ways to approach the introduction of a new facilities management platform and prepare others in your organisation for change.

    Not everyone sees things as you do – yet.

    You know that computer-aided maintenance management systems (CMMS) can revolutionise the way in which a business functions. You can visualise the bigger picture. So it’s important to be aware that not everyone will see things the same way as you, and recognise that fear of change can be one of the biggest barriers to change for the better. To dispel those fears, and secure the buy-in and support you need for the success of any project, you need to make sure that all your stakeholders clearly understand the reasons for change.

    Managers who have a clear idea of what they want to achieve from the organisational changes associated with CAFM usually have a planned strategy, based on on proactive thinking and business analysis. These people know what they want to do differently. They understand their processes, they know what information is missing, and they often approach the project armed with data-driven insights and sound analysis of contextual facts.They will normally clearly define the areas where change is required, and will understand what needs to be achieved from the top down. They will aggregate, share and use this information to drive innovation.

    “Through my work with Shell, I saw significant organisational transition. Our approach was to invest time in remapping all the business processes, which provided a solid foundation for change that enabled and empowered individuals, teams, partners and suppliers to understand the impact and potential of CMMS implementation.”

    However, not everyone takes such a structured approach, and this is usually the case when implementing change in response to seeing developments in maintenance management technology, realising that existing solutions are not fit for purpose, and being afraid of lagging behind. These people are more reactive, not usually as well-prepared, and may have unrealistic expectations of CMMS (which is, after all, just a system that requires humans to understand how to apply it, and how to use it effectively). They will also mistakenly put their faith in the misconception that implementing a new system will streamline operations overnight and generate immediate cost savings – job done.

    Requirements first, implementation second.

    There is no avoiding the fact that business requirements must steer the whole change and implementation process. And that these requirements should not just be plugged into the software during integration, or worse, once the system is already in place – relying on working out later what is required from your system simply will not deliver the results you need. This is one of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen made, followed by underestimating the process of planning.

    To make sure that your organisation sees the decision-making process as a worthwhile investment, it’s wise to collaborate with your CAFM provider from the earliest possible stage. The more you and your technology partner prepare together, the better the outcome will be – and the fewer change requests you will need once development has begun.

    • Define your stakeholder group and begin to map out the reasons for change.
    • Define goals and see how they impact on existing processes.
    • Gather data and insights from across the business to inform GAP analysis.
    • Be realistic about what can be achieved, as well as the time and resources you will need to get there.

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    Invest enough time in obtaining the information you need.

    Change for the wrong reasons leads to implementation without evaluation, or a sound understanding of why you needed it in the first place. Change under duress, without everyone recognising and aligning behind the core problems you are trying to solve, is a recipe for disaster. So it’s worth spending a couple of days in a workshop with a CMMS provider who has been through it all before, or someone from outside the organisation who can help you really examine the way you work.

    If something is broken it can be difficult to determine exactly how or why, and to find solutions, when you are too close to the situation. Learn from an objective viewpoint and the insights and lessons of others, and be willing to ask for help.

    Once you’re ready to start working with your internal stakeholders, you will need to be prepared to step on indoctrinated beliefs and challenge any “This is the way we’ve always done it” responses in order to take away that fear of change.

    A governance board created specifically for the implementation project can be extremely useful here, as it can steer the project, challenge assumptions, and unite behind a valued and common goal.

    Data from your new system will support future business cases.

    In the longer term, the data obtained from your new system will support any future change process – being able to analyse data and spot trends will enable the rest of the business to see the true benefits of CMMS. Others will then be able to challenge and interrogate the data to their own satisfaction; they can use it to unlock learnings and validate assumptions; they can justify expenditure; and they can map and measure improvements.

    By setting out reasons for change and identifying clearly articulated, prioritised requirements, your CMMS implementation will go a lot more smoothly, and provide your organisation with the key measurable targets that are critical for validating decisions and demonstrating return.