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Strategies for successful change management in supply chain

Effective change management in supply chain involves preparing your workforce for new technologies, redefining processes to improve organisational efficiency, and ensuring compliance with industry regulations. Let’s look at the change management process and the key strategies for a smooth implementation.

What is change management?

Change management is a structured process businesses use to navigate transitions, affecting both the individual and organisational levels. This approach involves revising resource allocation, business operations, and financial planning, among other significant aspects. The objective is to ensure that changes bring about collective advantages while reducing the likelihood of setbacks during implementation.

Benefits of change management

Successful management of change processes brings these benefits. many benefits, including:

  • Enhanced agility: Allows organisations to quickly adapt to market changes, new additions to their maritime software stack, or unexpected disruptions.
  • Increased efficiency: Streamlines processes, reduces waste, and minimises redundancies, leading to faster operations and cost savings.
  • Better risk management: Identifies potential risks early and implements strategic plans to mitigate them, ensuring smoother transitions.
  • Improved compliance: Ensures your digital transformation project adheres to industry standards and regulations, avoiding legal and financial penalties.
  • Employee empowerment: Engages your team in the transformation process, leading to increased buy-in and a culture of continuous improvement.

A Prosci study found that 88% of projects with robust change management practices achieved or surpassed their targets. Due to its inherent complexity, stringent regulatory standards, and dependence on global supply chains, organisational change management is a key component of successful digital transformation projects in shipping. It ensures a smooth transition by addressing human, operational, and technological aspects. 

Top steps in the change management process in supply chain

Supply chain change management involves a structured process and set of tools to transition individuals, teams, and organisations from a current state to a desired future state. 

Here are the change management process steps that help minimise resistance to change and maximise the engagement and adoption of new working methods in the shipping industry.

Phase Steps Description
Preparing for change Assessment of needs Identify the need to improve email communication and data sharing to enhance operational efficiency.
Building the change team Assemble a team from IT, operations, and communications departments.
Defining the change strategy Decide to implement a digital email management platform across the fleet.
Planning the change Developing a detailed plan Schedule the email management platform rollout, including guided training material for staff, hardware installations, and software integrations.
Communicating the plan Discuss the implementation plan, onboarding process, and expected benefits in briefings with users.
Implementing the change Executing the plan Roll out deployment of the email platform, making sure super users are trained to help colleagues. Simultaneously turning off the old email client.
Managing resistance Provide training sessions and support for staff to adapt to the new digital tools.
Monitoring progress Track adoption rates, data accuracy improvements, and user feedback to gauge the platform's impact.
Sustaining the change Embedding the change Integrate the email management platform into daily operations and standard operating procedures.
Reviewing and adjusting Analyse operational efficiency gains and refine training and support based on user feedback.
Celebrating success Recognise the teams and individuals contributing to successful platform integration and improved outcomes.
Reviewing and learning Evaluating the change Assess improvements in communication, data handling, and overall operational performance.
Identifying lessons learned Document insights on deployment, user adoption strategies, and platform benefits.
Planning for future changes Use the experience to streamline future digital transformation initiatives across the company.

Key strategies for supply chain change management

For 21% of global services decision-makers surveyed by Forrester, implementing new processes and capabilities is a significant challenge in their organisations' digital transformation and change management journey. 

Successful implementation requires a multifaceted approach. We recommend these four key strategies:

1. Communicate clearly and frequently

Establishing a robust framework for dialogue between leaders and their teams ensures transparency, builds trust, and facilitates easier adjustments to new processes. Tailoring these change initiatives to meet the specific requirements of different teams further optimises this transition, ensuring that each group's unique challenges and needs are addressed.

Discover the three primary rules of effective communication in shipping.

2. Engage stakeholders early and often

Change cannot occur in isolation. It requires the active participation of all stakeholders, including shipping companies, regulatory agencies, technology providers, and environmental groups. In fact, Gartner research shows that involving employees in change management decision-making boosts success rates by 15%.

Strategies for engaging stakeholders include:

  • Conducting surveys to gather insights
  • Hosting workshops and forums for open dialogue
  • Forming collaborative initiatives to address shared challenges

These efforts ensure that diverse perspectives inform changes and are more likely to gain widespread acceptance​​.

3. Develop a comprehensive training program

Crafting a training program involves understanding the new technologies or processes in the digital transformation strategy and assessing the current skill levels of your team. For instance, implementing vessel management software requires evaluating the crew's proficiency with digital tools and identifying any gaps in knowledge that the training program needs to address.

A culture of continuous learning and development helps teams to navigate the learning curve associated with adopting new technologies and methodologies. And training also plays a critical role in compliance with maritime regulations and standards, such as those set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

4. Create a supportive culture

Implementing change in the maritime industry involves innovative use of technology and fostering a culture that embraces new ideas. McKinsey found that clear communication, a supportive culture, and constant improvement can triple success rates in transformation efforts. This approach requires looking at digitalisation and supply chain change management processes as necessary pathways to improve operations rather than as problems to manage. 

Implementing change in supply chain with Sedna

As digital transformation projects continue to reshape the supply chain industry by introducing new technology, transitioning from legacy systems to cutting-edge, AI-driven solutions demands meticulous planning and a robust vision. 

Sedna is your ally in this transformational voyage, offering a data-driven communication platform, Stream, to facilitate seamless technology adoption. 

Stream leverages big data to optimise shipping routes, predict maintenance, and enhance safety measures. Our email management platform integrates with connected apps such as Dataloy, Veson IMOS, CargoWise, and so on, bringing critical data across your digital ecosystem into one accessible space and making informed decisions without switching between systems or contexts​​. 

Driving faster action and insights from your core business system

Connected Apps integrate business-critical data hidden across your digital ecosystem. Make informed decisions without needing to switch contexts or systems.