Change management is an integral part of any digital transformation process. Find out how charities can make this transition as smooth as possible.
This article is sponsored by Trillium - specialists in digital transformation and enablers of change for charities, non-profits and membership organisations.
If you search goodreads for a quote with which to begin an article on change management you will be met by no fewer than 6,578 results. It quickly becomes clear that many of humanity’s greatest minds (and best-selling YA novelists) have spent a lot of time dwelling on change.
Amongst these quotes, there are a lot of good ones. They broadly fall into two categories: those reflecting that change is scary, and those asserting that change is necessary. For most organisations, both are true.
Many of our era’s most successful tech companies are the product of sudden and profound change. It was not that long ago that Amazon was primarily an online retailer of print literature; that Netflix sent you DVDs in the post. These organisations are successful for a number of reasons, but chief among them is an ability to predict changes in consumer habits and adapt to them. These organisations have now evolved to shaping these habits.
These tech companies had a number of prominent competitors - competitors that in many cases possessed greater resources and higher visibility. But these organisations failed to change. And the result? When was the last time you rented a movie from Blockbuster?
Change then is necessary, if daunting. And it is paramount that this change is handled properly. For the change necessary for an organisation to completely transform its operations is not merely a practical one - a cultural change is also necessary. Change management is a term that sometimes gets thrown around a little loosely. Properly applied, it refers to a structured approach put in place to ensure that transitions are handled smoothly and that organisations are set up to benefit from the long-term effects of change. A structured approach, however, doesn’t necessarily require adhering to one of the multitude of change management models out there.
A change mindset is more important than a change model. By instilling the right culture, you can make sure that teams are invested and informed, and ready to move from one way of working to another.
There are a number of problems that need to be addressed before an organisation can fully embrace innovation and change. From one side, there may be a lack of understanding or confidence in new procedures. From another, there may be unrealistically high expectations.
This can be daunting. Which is precisely why it’s so important to proactively manage the expectations and experiences of those who will be affected by the change - both inside and outside the organisation. Adopting an iterative approach (where it is understood that development will be an organic result of trial and error over time) is crucial. The acceptance of, and preparation for, initial failure is a necessary part of the process, as it will provide your organisation with invaluable lessons.
Before delving into the following steps, you might want to catch up on our previous piece on how to create an innovative culture.
Securing buy-in is one of the most important of these steps. It is crucial that people throughout your organisation are on board with any efforts to implement change. One of the challenges you might face is that of demonstrating the value of an investment.
You may initially have trouble demonstrating the value of an investment. Start small, gather data and use it to demonstrate ROI before scaling up operations. Poor foundations lead to poor results. Good underlying systems must be built slowly, as a result of small, successful actions. This process will take time, but will ensure that you have fit-for-purpose systems that work for your charity, rather than out-of-the-box change solutions that may do little more than excite top-level discussion.
Trillium’s digital strategy ebook offers a useful series of do’s and don’ts for organisations seeking to manage change during a process of digital transformation. This guide grounds change management as a part of a wider digital transformation strategy, which may be a helpful way to look at it for those having trouble seeing how the concept and related processes can be implemented within their own organisation.
Failure will be a necessary part of this process. Fear of failure can be one of the biggest deterrents to implementing change. But this failure is actually an important (and unavoidable) step to finding the right strategy for your needs.
Not all changes will work. But by learning what doesn’t work, you inch closer to finding out what does. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as the old adage goes. And it holds true for the process of change management. Because change is an ongoing process, not the sudden flicking of a switch. Any responsible stewardship of an organisation will have a component of change management. And as charities, we have an ethical obligation to ask whether we are using our resources as efficiently as possible to deliver the best possible service to our beneficiaries. If we are not changing; if we are not pushing the boundaries and trying to innovate; if we are not challenging ourselves to see whether we can do more with less, then can we say that we are providing everything we can to our service users?
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (a registered charity and professional voice for environmental health) underwent their own digital transformation as they introduced a new integrated event management and CRM system. Their back-office systems were both out of date and too expensive to maintain. Worse still, they created both internal and external data silos.
What was the problem?
The CIEH had seen a ten-year decline in membership numbers and twelve years of significant losses as a result of failing to update their membership models, learning pathways and commercial services.
What was the solution?
By focusing on their strengths, and knowledge and understanding of the membership sector, CIEH and partners Trillium were able to set clear goals and deliverables for the project - creating a transformation strategy tailored to their specific organisational needs.
They created a system that reflected a sensible and informed way of doing things rather than a system built on ‘the way we’ve always done things.’ They implemented a new Dynamics 365 CRM to manage Membership, Events, Financials, CPD and Work-Based Learning. This is integrated to a new, responsive and personalised website and self-service area.
‘It’s really, really hard to find someone who does what they [Trillium] do, that mix of flexibility, reliability and understanding of our culture is rare.’
- Anne Godfrey, Chief Executive - CIEH
Charity and non-profit digital transformation specialists Trillium have launched an ‘innovation challenge’ to help organisations benefit from their experience implementing innovation and managing change. Does your organisation have a problem that requires some creative thinking?
Trillium are looking for clients that have unique challenges that they can apply their expertise to. Submit your innovation challenge to win up to 12 days of their partnership, worth over £10, 000, to deliver a proof of concept that can have a measurable impact on your organisation.
Choose a discrete challenge with a clear end goal. Focus on describing what you’d like to accomplish, rather than specifying an approach or desired technical solution – innovation is agnostic.
By bringing together strategy, digital and CRM, Trillium transform user experience, with a focus on acquisition, retention and engagement. Their CRM and website solutions provide you with the insights and tools to develop innovative fundraising approaches, connect with supporters and positively manage all your relationships, donor and beyond.