Evicted from the Comfort Zone: The Importance of Managing Change

Was your organization’s last Business Intelligence (BI) or Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) solution implementation received with enthusiastic acceptance or with a wall of resistance?

BI and EPM are meant to be transformative, and that also means disruptive in some way. People will need to leave something behind and make an effort to learn a new software or get used to a new way of doing their work. To the extent a new solution relieves pain, it is more likely to be accepted and adopted. But not everyone will perceive the cost/benefit trade-off as a net positive for themselves, and roadblocks to progress can easily start to go up.

Having worked on dozens of projects I’ve seen how resistance – or even just a lack of enthusiasm – can slow down the progress of development, result in a lower value solution, and prevent full adoption. Resistance is often the result of fear. Here are a few of the most significant fears that can impede project success:

Fear of learning something new

Of course it’s not easy to leave behind what you’re familiar with and adopt a new software. For example many financial analysts and managers have built successful careers with Excel. “My spreadsheets may not be the most efficient way to get things done,” they might say, “but at least I know how they work.” They may also be daunted by what they perceive their learning curve with the new system will be, fearing it will add work on top of their ongoing tasks and make them feel less effective until they’re up to speed.

Fear of change in the work routine

A new solution should also come with an improved business process, and that can be highly disruptive for people. For example, financial planning technologies can significantly streamline a fairly intricate and manual process. At one client, the elimination of most of the monthly pre-forecast preparation effort concerned an analyst that his job role might appear less necessary. At another client, we completely eliminated a high-level financial forecast method used in non-quarter-end months, and achieved numerous benefits by integrating planning cycles across all months. In that case the entire Finance organization needed to adapt.

Fear of being measured

The goal of one of our BI implementations for a retail store chain was to deliver timely sales and shopper traffic information to store managers, so they could act in real time to improve results. Up to then, decision-making was based more on intuition and not on numbers. Our project was intended to drive a cultural change. At the time our solution was deployed, a couple of store managers quit their jobs. I learned that their primary motivation for resigning was fear of having their performance measured.


Issues like these can be mitigated through pro-active Organizational Change Management as a component of a high-impact solution implementation. In an upcoming article I’ll share some ideas about how Change Management can help align stakeholders to keep a project on track and assure results.

What fears have held your organization back from transformative success?

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