Implementation of new software—SAP or otherwise—is only one part of a digital transformation project.

But, often, enough emphasis is placed on ensuring the success of an enterprise technology project’s ultimate go-live date that organizations overlook, neglect, or underfund organizational change management (OCM) strategies, which are crucial to ensuring enterprise-wide adoption and capitalizing on expensive software investments.

“If you don’t invest in change management, you simply are not going to get adoption,” according to Karan Froom, Director of Business Transformation Organizational Change Management at Clorox.

To achieve high adoption rates and succeed with digital transformation, enterprises must look beyond technical implementation, developing plans and strategies to ensure end users can anticipate and understand how these technology shifts will impact their roles and daily operations.

“Just because you build it, that doesn’t necessarily mean end users will come,” Froom said. “If you do not implement and execute a thorough change management methodology and plan, you’re either going to get late user adoption or no user adoption at all.”

Throughout her career, Froom has helped enterprises devise and implement change management strategies to facilitate widescale adoption of new technology solutions and business processes.

Currently, she leads the change management portion of Clorox’s multi-year digital transformation initiative, which includes SAP S/4HANA adoption. Ahead of her upcoming session at SAP Sapphire & ASUG Annual Conference—where she’ll cover building and managing successful OCM projects—Froom sat down with ASUG to discuss keys to success with change management success, as well as common pitfalls and hurdles organizations often encounter.

Below are her insights and advice for enterprises.

Find a Change Management Champion

Froom emphasized the importance of identifying a “change management sponsor” in leadership as early as possible.

“It’s vital to find someone who is going to champion change for your organization,” she said, stressing the importance of establishing a leader who can “advocate for change management at the highest levels of the company.”

Froom also noted these executive sponsors can assist OCM-focused employees with questions, issues, and concerns that often crop up when developing and implementing change management strategies.

However, it is critical that organizations find an OCM executive champion with the right background and skillset to facilitate effective change. Froom encourages enterprises to identify leaders with a background in technology and enterprise resource planning (ERP), ideally with project lifecycle management experience as well.

Keys to Developing a Change Management Budget

When approaching OCM budgets, the first step Froom encourages enterprises to undertake is to ensure their stakeholders understand the scope and complexity of the digital transformation project. Often, assigning a specific percentage of a digital transformation project budget to OCM does not meet all the organization’s change management needs. Smaller program budgets often result in higher OCM costs, which means that allotting a percentage of the overall project budget to this area may not fully fund the change management work effort required.

Froom encourages enterprises to identify necessary internal and external resources along with the scope and complexity of the project as early as possible. All of these factors significantly impact budget. In terms of necessary resources, organizations must allocate funds to pay for internal and external workers necessary to enact an OCM strategy.

The complexity of a digital transformation project often dictates what funds are necessary for it to succeed from a change management standpoint. Froom noted that a digital transformation project impacting 50,000 employees in the same way—such as a change to time reporting—is an easier lift than a project where 1,000 employees all are impacted differently by multiple software implementations and process changes.

Devote the Necessary Time and Resources to Change Management

Froom also discussed common mistakes enterprises make when approaching change management. The two cardinal sins of OCM are underfunding this aspect of a digital transformation project and starting too late. “These usually go hand-in-hand,” she said.

Froom noted that large-scale digital transformation projects may have thousands of change impacts. OCM professionals need the runway and resources to analyze these changes and develop a plan to tackle change management. According to Froom, enterprises should develop a holistic engagement plan for end users, articulating the need for change, delivered over a period of time, in a way that is meaningful to them.

“This plan is important so that, when we eventually get to training, end users aren’t asking why the change is happening or resisting the change,” Froom said. “Instead, they are focused on learning the new processes and tools.”

In terms of equipping end users with  necessary information, Froom likes to use an “hourglass” approach to change management, building end users’ knowledge over time. That way, employees aren’t lost in a sea of information or “drinking from a firehose.”

However, developing these strategies takes time and resources.

“If you take time away from that vital work and start too late, you are inevitably going to overwhelm your end users with too much information in a short period of time,” Froom said. “Or, if you didn’t do the change impact analysis work upfront, you risk not having enough documented information to share.”

Advice for Organizations

Given her extensive experience in change management, Froom also laid out a few key pieces of advice for enterprises about to embark on digital transformation projects.

First, she encouraged companies to find the right partners.

“You must look for a partner who understands change management and the necessary timing,” she said. Froom further noted that experienced partners are vital, as they bring a wealth and experiential knowledge gleaned from working on numerous ERP adoption projects.

Froom also encouraged enterprises to begin thinking about change management as early as possible. OCM strategies must be rolled out during a digital transformation project, not just in the few months or weeks right before go-live. “The good news is that if you are already thinking about change management, you’ve already won the battle,” Froom said.

For more insights into change management from Karan Froom, attend her session at SAP Sapphire & ASUG Annual Conference.