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While employed as the Organizational Change Management Lead with an SAP customer, I quickly learned the value of a well-orchestrated training plan and how it could be utilized as an effective change management tool. I had always heard that the best way to change old behavior was to build change into the strategy, so that those being challenged to lead the change could not recognize that a shift was actually occurring in their behavior. This was a powerful concept, in theory, but I wanted to conduct a mini-experiment with my own project team.

Our ERP project team consisted of eight Business Process Leaders (BPLs) that had varying levels of experience in using technology. I viewed this as a potential risk to our project because I needed these eight people to lead a business transformation effort utilizing technology. It wasn’t enough for these leaders to show competence within their areas of expertise, they also had the responsibility of showing the organization that using technology to support their business processes could improve the way we conducted business. I was given the responsibility of developing a Project Team Training (PTT) strategy that would ensure that our BPLs were prepared to lead the ERP program.

Based on my 18 years of experience in the Information Technology field, it has become clear that people often fear technology for a variety of reasons. However, more often than not, this fear originates from an uncertainty: Do I have the capabilities to learn the new technology? Will using this technology negatively impact or change my current responsibilities? Will my position be eliminated as the result of using the technology? This fear of the unknown has the potential to create significant change barriers if the purpose of the change is not clearly communicated and understood. It is at this point where leadership has an opportunity to show people how to change versus telling people they need to change. Initiating organizational change, using a top-down approach, sends a clear message to the organization that leadership will support and play an active role in the change.

At the onset of organizational change, training is often a natural entry point for leadership to introduce the change because once the status quo is disrupted, there is a need to inform and educate the business. Since training was historically conducted in an Instructor-Led Training (ILT) format and was the preferred delivery method within our organization, I saw an opportunity to introduce Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) as a means of initiating a top-down, leadership change. As a part of the Project Team Training strategy, Business Process Leaders would attend virtual SAP training classes, as opposed to traditional classroom training.

The ERP Leadership Team embraced the concept as benefits including convenience, reduced travel expenses, and potential cross-training opportunities were highlighted. Utilizing this strategy would not only meet the business requirements of educating the BPL community, but would also help build early adopters and future change advocates within the organization. Business Process Leaders were given the information, tools, and first-hand experience necessary to be successful, however, they were also held accountable for helping new project team members through the virtual training process. Building change into the training strategy and using leadership to build early adopters led to the successful execution of our training strategy and has the potential to be a virtual game changer for organizations that want to take business transformation to the next level.

For a deeper dive around Education Transformation, click here to read a whitepaper on the topic which I recently prepared. I would be very interested in your feedback on this topic, so I encourage you to share your own experiences and views right here in SCN.

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