Change Management

Kotter's 8-Step Change Management Process for Software Implementation


Successfully adopting new enterprise software requires active change management. Author, entrepreneur, and Harvard Professor, John Kotter’s 1996 book Leading Change is the gold standard in how to navigate change in business.

If you're adopting a new enterprise software, like Salesforce, Oracle or NetSuite, you should consider following Kotter's 8-step process:

  1. Create a Sense of Urgency
  2. Build a Guiding Coalition
  3. Create a Strategic Vision
  4. Communicate the Vision
  5. Enable Action by Removing Barriers
  6. Generate Short-Term Wins
  7. Sustain acceleration
  8. Anchor Changes in Corporate Culture

Step 1: Create a Sense of Urgency

Explain the importance of why you need to implement the new software now. What is the business need for the new system? How will waiting to implement the system harm the company?

Step 2: Build a Guiding Coalition

You’ll need to assemble a team that can guide the implementation of your new software. This is not a one person job. You’ll want to involve different levels and departments to build buy-in across the entire organization.

Step 3: Create a Strategic Vision

When you were deciding on a new enterprise software you probably developed a long list of benefits as a part of building your business case. You can recite all of those benefits because you’re excited about the new software.

The average user won’t remember or possibly care about those benefits. Instead, develop a short, one or two sentence, vision for what the future looks like after the implementation. Your guiding coalition needs to be able to describe the vision in a couple of minutes.

Step 4: Communicate the Vision

Communication is one of the most important steps in change management. Use every communication channel you have to talk about your vision and give updates on the project regularly.

Related:- 4 Key Elements of Change Management Communication

Step 5: Enable Action by Removing Barriers

As a part of preparing for software implementation, you’ll need to identify what your existing processes are and how they’ll need to be changed. Make sure you update any antiquated processes that would prevent users from making the switch to your new system.

Ensure a successful rollout by making sure there are no obstacles that keep people from making the change. For software implementation, the barriers could be more than just processes. Technical problems like incompatible equipment could derail your implementation.

Unfamiliarity is also a barrier for implementation. You made need to provide additional training and support to enable the change.

Step 6: Generate Short-Term Wins

Software implementation doesn’t happen overnight. Start with onboarding users or departments that are least resistant to the change. Demonstrate the benefits for those users and celebrate the milestone.

Step 7: Sustain acceleration

You need to build momentum and keep going. Monitor your implementation and modify your plan based on the data. If you’re implementing a new ERP like Oracle or NetSuite, don’t think your change management process is done simply because you made it through your first month-end close on the new system.

Have a debrief. Talk about what worked and what can be improved. Inspire teams to continually improve their processes as they learn more about the new system.

Step 8: Anchor Changes in Corporate Culture

Learning how to use your new system to its fullest capacity needs to become a part of your corporate culture. Many organizations abandon new enterprise software platforms before the fully see the benefits of the system. Promoting change and digital adoption as a part of your culture ensure your entire organization is invested in not only making your system work, but in getting the best ROI on the software.

To learn more about how Apty can be a part of your change management process for software implementation, schedule a demo now.


Nathan Altadonna
Written by Nathan Altadonna

A former journalist and product manager, Nathan is a proud tech geek who blogs about digital transformation, employee productivity, and enterprise software. In addition to his work with Apty, Nathan runs his own consulting company, Innate Digital, helping companies develop content and get the most out of their marketing tech stack.

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