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How to Overcome the Change Management Hurdle

Note: This is an excerpt from “Automation in Records Management and Information Governance,” a collaborative report we released with AIIM. The report is available to view at no charge and is based on data from over 220 surveyees with contributions from a panel of industry experts.  


For three out of every four organizations (76%), change management is a challenge when it comes to planning governance initiatives. Interestingly, the results are roughly the same for both Experienced Users and Potential Users.

“Change management” is one of those terms that is used constantly in discussions of the perils facing information management implementations. But what exactly is it? AIIM’s CIP Study Guide notes, “Change management is the application of the set of tools, processes, skills, and principles for managing the people side of change to achieve the required outcomes of a change project or initiative…

Changing the habits, priorities and day-to-day activities of information workers is also part of meeting deployment objectives. A program and dedicated plan to manage the change in employee behaviors to parallel the changes in tools or procedures is essential to success.” The AIIM Confident Change Management course provides a good baseline in understanding these issues.

change management

The specific change management issues cited vary from organization to organization, but they are usually drawn from this list:

  • Poor communication from senior executives
  • Those who say, “We’ve always done it this way”
  • Lack of timely user input and participation in system design
  • Change that occurs faster than employees can handle
  • Concern about potential job loss from automation
  • Ineffective or poorly timed training
  • Poor follow-through on change management initiatives
  • Poor process documentation

It is important when starting a governance automation initiative to get a solid change management foundation in place during the early stages of your potential implementation: 1) When you are building the vision and 2) During your initial inventory of capabilities and stakeholders. Too often, organizations rush forward without putting these basic elements in place.

In following these steps, organizations can “bake” change management into the project in its earliest stages:

1. Identify a core cross-functional group to drive the initiative and get AIIM training to establish a common language and framework.

2. Use this framework to understand “why” your organization should consider a governance automation initiative – not generally, but in the specific business and competitive context of your organization.

3. Develop a process automation strategy document – e.g., a document laying out a vision, key performance indicators, critical success factors, success measures.

change management

4. Identify an executive sponsor for the initiative and get buy-in on the strategy document.

5. Evaluate which processes are initially best suited for the initiative.

6. Within the context of the targets, identify the roles and responsibilities required for change – e.g., sponsors, champions, management, specialists, business users, legal, and others.

7. Conduct an initial assessment of the current state of the process targets and the systems that support them.

8. Identify the expected benefits from automating these processes – customer, risk, compliance, financial, consistency, and prioritize initial process targets.

What the panel thinks:

“You need everyone at the table – records people, content, people, knowledge people, data people – and they all need to get along and understand how they all are a part of the success of driving the decision engine of your organization.”

“Change management needs to start when you build your initial strategy, when you build your initial proposals. You need to build change management into it from the start.”

To learn what our full panel of seven industry experts has to say about this topic, download the full AIIM report here.


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