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Starting projects for the implementation of ERP/CRM software or for digital transformation initiatives in the right way is critical to achieving project success. After all, the impact of a new software solution and adapted business processes on your staff, their mindset and their behaviour is enormous. So why should you limit your project kick-off event to just the IT department and a handful of key users? And why only talk about functionality and planning in that meeting? Also important: which powerful individual from your management is hosting this kick-off event in the role of the project sponsor? Clearly, a good kick-off comes with a cost. But please keep in mind that the cost of a bad kick-off can be much higher.

It happens often. And it starts with rumours at the coffee machines about a secret project coming up. Unknown professionals dressed in suits walk in and out of the building. Some of the smartest colleagues are taken out of their jobs to contribute to this ‘project X’. And the rest suddenly have to work a lot harder because of that. What’s going on?

If your teams don’t understand what’s in it for them when you roll out a new technology solution, then all the time, energy and money you’re putting into deploying it won’t pay off. So it is of crucial importance to dedicate as much time to change management as you do to the technical aspects of your new implementation or upgrade. If you fail to do so, you will experience low adoption levels, unrealized benefits and overall poor employee engagement and morale.

How technology affects someone’s day is what matters most. If you can address the fear they have,  you’ll get their buy-in more quickly. A team member may have had a bad experience with an implementation. Or may just misunderstand what’s coming. Giving them the opportunity to ask questions helps to remove tension and creates engagement.

Successful projects are always facilitated by a strong project sponsor. This person must do the opening of the kick-off session, make the strategic importance clear and provide clarity on the desired behaviour and thinking. It is of course necessary for the sponsor to be present. For what is the non-verbal communication when he or she is absent “because of something more important?”

Transparency helps to create trust. And trust is a critical part of a successful change management effort. So if you start your next implementation or major software upgrade with a professional kick-off, you win the cooperation of your teams and thus increase the chance of project success.