Getting a program approved and technology implemented is a huge undertaking for any contingent workforce (CW) program manager and organization. As program managers go through their implementations, their focus tends to be on that “go live” moment and working through any issues to achieve the “nirvana” known as steady state. Unfortunately, even with a smooth implementation and widespread adoption, many program managers have learned the nirvana of steady state is very short lived. Why?
It has often been said that the key metric of a contingent workforce program’s success is adoption. A program can implement the best processes, risk mitigation policies, the most cost savings, even efficiencies beyond your wildest dreams, but if no one in the organization uses or “adopts” it, then all of your hard work is a waste of time; effort; and, worse of all, money. Alternatively, if an implementation goes well and there is adoption, program managers find that they and their programs are being asked to deliver even more. Stakeholders will expect the next level of value creation when it comes to delivering a competitive CW resource solution service.
In all of my years in this industry, I have not spoken with a single program manager who was happy with the status quo. Every single one I’ve ever spoken with has had their eye on the next opportunity, whether it was adding a new business unit into the program, getting visibility and/or control of statement-of-work (SOW) spend, or even going global; the need to continue to enhance the program’s value and drive adoption never ends. But when a CW program is required to constantly evolve, how can it continue to successfully grow its capabilities?
The secret is in staying focused on the core steps that have provided you successful implementation and adoption to date.
Pre-change research. Although it may clear to you why this change should be implemented, it may not be obvious to those being affected. It’s critical they understand the current problems, challenges or issues that the change will eliminate or mitigate. More important, if the change will not eliminate all of the issues or challenges, make sure you share this and why. Sometimes, showing program stakeholders their concerns were heard and communicating why a problem cannot be resolved is even more critical than what the change will accomplish.
Buy-in from KEY stakeholders. Leverage those stakeholders that have evangelized/promoted the change and understand the return on investment the change will bring. They or their departments may be affected by the change and they can be instrumental with their messaging and/or authority. Remember, your strongest cheerleaders are the stakeholders who did not support the change at first but are now on board.
Adoption strategy. After conducting the pre-change research, you have identified the wants and needs of your stakeholder audience. Be sure you create a strategy that addresses what has been identified. Providing clear, defined processes is also critical. Each strategy might need to be customized to the new stakeholder audiences as the priorities will be different than some others. It should also include the expected benefits the group will see if they adopt the change. This could include: better visibility of contingent worker usage, cost savings, better quality, lower managed risks, etc.
Change communication. Change is not usually well-received, so understanding why it is happening is important. The more you communicate the more comfortable people become. Be sure to include what the change is and when it is happening, whether training will be required, how and when that training will be available, and most important, if they have questions or concerns, whom they can contact.
Critical note: If for any reason there is a change to the plan, communicate this immediately along with the reason why. Failure to communicate this can give the impression that the plan will never happen or you can lose stakeholders’ confidence in your ability to implement the change successfully. Additionally, communicate wins during the launch/initial adoption period. Include executive quotes of success and define success in numerical terms. Everybody loves to join a winner; it’s good corporate politics!
Training. If training is necessary, you will need a training schedule. Make sure the training is available to internal and external resources if necessary. Provide flexible options and remember to make it ongoing. People will come and go, so some sort of on demand training will be required.
Change is constant, so having clear and concise processes, procedures and communication along with your change strategy will help to drive adoption of your ideas.