Managing HRIS change management

by 30 Sep 2008

Q. Our organisation is about to deploy a new HRIS which includes Employee Self Service (ESS). We have been advised to spend a significant amount on change management. Do we really need to this, and if so, how would it be best spent?

A. John Kotter in his 1998 article Winning atChange, found that more than 85 per cent of organisations that undertake major transformations, such as a move to shared services or implementation of ESS, fail mainly because of a lack of change management. Organisation change management is designed to help the project to successfully manage the people and organisational aspects during the migration from one state to another. For most HR professionals organisation change management is not a new concept, but applying it to their own technology projects is.

While many models for change exist, at a simple level there are three phases, highlighted by William Bridges and Susan Mitchell Bridges in their 2000 article "Leading Transition: A New Model for Change", published in Leaderto Leader, that individuals experience during change.

The first phase is saying goodbye to the way things were. Second, there is a shifting into neutral, where people who have said goodbye are unable to immediately move forward because of uncertainty and confusion. Simply coping with the change can drain significant resources and energy. Finally, there is moving forward, characterised, by people beginning to adapt to the new ways. Keep in mind that many people fail to let go, or fail to see through the haze in the “neutral”phase, but many are also scared of moving forward, especially in organisations that penalise mistakes.

To help individuals and organisations move through these phases, a detailed organisation change management plan should be developed. The objectives of the plan should be to present a clear business case, provide clarity of the end state, develop committed stakeholders, define leadership and accountability of the change program, create a supportive environment during the change to help people move forward and provide integrated implementation plans – along with ongoing strategies and plans to transition the change management activities to day to day business managers

Although the organisation change management team will design the plan, they should not be the only people implementing the plan. You need to include the entire project team, senior stakeholders, managers and, of course, the employees themselves.

Furthermore, for a technology project, the organisation change management plan needs to address how key activities will be completed. For example, stakeholder analysis, change readiness assessments, change impact assessments on people and process to determine required actions, training development and delivery, end user support, and communicating the business reasons for change.

Finally, remember that your project team members will also being going through change, and some might be effectively working themselves out of a job if their roles are predominantly administrative. Therefore it is not uncommon for project team members to experience the above three phases and sometimes become stuck in phase one or two.

By Michael Specht, Inspecht for EmployeeConnect. Tel: (02) 8288 8000, email or visit