Manage Change During a Digital Transformation

women an men in a factory

Manage Change During a Digital Transformation

Have you ever wondered how to effectively manage change during a digital transformation in your company? This is a question that many small business owners like you ask themselves, especially in the manufacturing sector where processes are complex and tools are often outdated.


What is a Digital Transformation?

A digital transformation is the adoption of digital technologies to improve your company’s processes, products, services, and customer relationships. For example, you can use sensors to track the quality and quantity of your raw materials in real-time, software to optimize your production and logistics, and online platforms to communicate with your suppliers and customers.


In order to stay ahead of your competitors, your company needs to adapt to the constantly evolving digital world. A digital transformation allows you to stay at the forefront of innovation and meet the needs of connected customers. It’s not just about technology, but also about culture, skills, communication, and vision. You have to rethink how you work, collaborate, innovate, and create value. Therefore, it requires tailored and personalized support that takes into account the specificities of each company, team, and individual.


women and men in a factory

How to Succeed in Change Management

Here are some tips to successfully manage change during a digital transformation:


  1. Define a clear and shared vision of what you want to achieve through digital technology.

What are your strategic objectives, operational needs, and customer expectations? How can digital technology help you achieve them? What are the expected benefits in the short, medium, and long term?


  1. Communicate regularly about your vision, projects, progress, and challenges.

Use various channels that are suitable for your company, such as meetings, newsletters, intranet, and social media. Be transparent and educational. Explain the why, how, and when of the digital transformation. Show concrete and inspiring examples. Seek feedback and suggestions from your employees.


  1. Involve your employees from the beginning and throughout the process.

Let them participate in defining needs, designing solutions, testing, deployment, and training. Give them meaning and empower them to take actions. Value their contributions and successes. Create spaces for exchange and co-creation. Promote project-based and agile work.


  1. Develop the digital skills of your employees.

Identify training needs based on profiles, roles, and levels of maturity. Offer tailored and evolving learning paths. Use interactive and playful methods. Emphasize learning through practice, peer-to-peer, and mentoring. Encourage curiosity and autonomy.


  1. Support individual and collective change.

Anticipate resistance, fears, and obstacles that may arise in the face of digital technology. Listen, reassure, and support your employees. Help them build confidence in themselves and their abilities. Strengthen the sense of belonging and team cohesion. Celebrate successes and learn from failures.


You must remember that in every change, facing resistance from employees is part of a normal process.  Even with all the good work in change management some employee may be afraid of losing their job.  Their feeling must be considered and taking care of, you must reassure them and tell them they will not lose their job but may not do the same work in the future. It is very important that the result will not be employee’s cut if you want to succeed in the digital change.  Building trust is essential, moreover; you need to walk the talk and offer them support and training to relocate them.

The story repeats, remember in the previous industrial revolution when robots were installed in the assembly chain in automotive industries.  People said the robots were stealing their job, but these were all repetitive and sometime dangerous jobs.  At the end, no job was lost, and new functions were created to do the maintenance and programming of these robots.  This is just another evolution in the industrial history.


In Conclusion

A digital transformation is an exciting but demanding challenge. It requires effective change management, which is based on a shared vision, effective communication, strong involvement, continuous skills development, and human support.

However, a digital transformation is also an opportunity for a manufacturing SME to remain competitive and innovative in an increasingly connected world. It may also help facing the manpower penury we are facing.

Alexandre Dubé is the founder and president of Agilean. A company that is entirely dedicated to making manufacturing SMEs more efficient and competitive in order to ensure their sustainability and success. Alexandre Dubé studied mechanical engineering before heading to industrial engineering, which he combined with a master's degree in business administration (MBA). These three areas of expertise bring an excellent understanding of all the challenges facing SMEs. He has spent more than fifteen years in industrial and service environments as well as in research and development within various cultures (North American, European and Asian).

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