How do you rally your organization around changes after you’ve already sold them on your original Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) plan? It starts with the right communication strategy!
Why do you need a PLM communication strategy?
Without a strong internal framework for connecting senior leaders with those who execute the transformational goals, there’s little chance that a company can work together to succeed at PLM.
What is a PLM communication strategy?
When a significant change in PLM has been made in an organization, there needs to be clear communication between everyone involved.
A change communication strategy should consist of delivering timely, relevant, and consistent information to help people understand what is changing, why, and how it will specifically affect them.
A good change plan is open and involves connecting with people to collaborate in shaping the transformation, sharing feedback, raising concerns, and asking questions.
One of the biggest culprits for unsuccessful change is one-way communication. Not only should you enable people in your organization to share their opinions, but you should also encourage them to participate in your change communications. The more involvement they have, the more buy-in they will experience!
When do you need a PLM communication strategy?
Whether you are implementing a new PLM strategy, going through a PLM system deployment, updating your existing process or technology, or undergoing a merger or acquisition, change communication is essential to helping people move from where they are today to a more desired future state.
Not sure where to start? Take a look at our 7-step process to create an effective communication strategy.
Craft your communication strategy in 7 steps
1. Assess your current situation.
To understand where you need to improve, you must first assess the current state of your organization’s communication procedures. Collect information and data from a range of different stakeholders to make an informed analysis of what’s working well and what isn’t.
For example, you may regularly send out long emails with complex business jargon about the PLM system to your organization, but your team is still confused about the topic. On the other hand, you might hold monthly department meetings which prove useful, as people feel this is a great way to bond and stay well informed about new developments.
Whether the feedback from the stakeholders is positive or negative, take note of all the comments and organize them in an easily digestible format.
2. Define your communication goals.
Establish the communication objectives by examining the successes and downfalls from your current state analysis.
Perhaps your company is in the process of updating an existing PLM system which employees are reluctant to use. In this case, your objective may be for people to use the new PLM system willingly and proficiently.
Maybe you’ve noticed a breakdown in communication between different departments which has caused a divide between employees. Having team-building opportunities and regular information exchanges between departments could be an appropriate objective for this issue.
3. Target and segment your audience.
Clearly define who your audience is and what their needs are. There may be several different groups within your target audience, so you will need to segment them accordingly.
Keep in mind that not all stakeholders will have the same profile and needs. The frequency, content, and mode of communication that is appropriate for a manager may not be as suitable for an engineer.
4. Decide on the key messages and content.
With your objectives and target audience in mind, think about the messages that you’d like to communicate. Consider what people know and how they feel opposed to what you’d like them to know and how you’d like them to feel. What messages could help bridge that gap?
You also need to be specific about the content type. Establish what types of text, imagery, video, or audio you’d like to implement to deliver your message.
For each key message, include the channel, content, objective, the action required in each step, and how often you’d like to communicate the message. Remember to keep your communication goals in mind.
Imagine a segment of your target audience is apprehensive about using new technologies and they don’t have much time to learn about it. To motivate them and inform them of the benefits, you could offer a coaching session to communicate the advantages of new technologies and digitalization.
5. Choose your communication channels.
Now you need to think about the communication channels you’d like to use.
Sending an email or holding a meeting are tried and tested/reputable/traditional ways of delivering a message, but we must also consider the range of innovative communication channels that our constantly evolving digital world has to offer.
You may use social media or the intranet to create an online community where you publish posts to keep everyone up to date with the latest developments in the company.
To foster a collaborative environment for co-creation between colleagues, you might decide that a videoconferencing workshop would be the best communication channel.
Whatever you choose, make sure that you use a variety of channels to convey your messages.
6. Create a timeline and action plan.
Now that you have the foundation for your communication strategy, it’s time to create a timeline and action plan.
Delivering timely and relevant information is crucial for successful change communication.
In step 4 you decided on the key content and messages. Now you must get specific by outlining the project details and creating a timeline. Include the publishing date, communication channel, content, people involved in delivering the message, and the target audience.
To keep employees informed about a new PLM system, you may decide to send out a newsletter via email. In this example, you would also need to define the people responsible for developing and delivering the newsletter and outline any necessary resources and timelines.
7. Track results.
It’s crucial to frequently reassess your communication strategy and adapt it accordingly to ensure that it’s as effective as possible. Decide what would make each message successful and use this to track your progress.
Let’s say you’ve sent out an email invite to sign up for an eLearning course about the new PLM system. You may decide that this communication has been successful if more than 50% of the email readers clicked on the link to sign up for the course within two weeks of receiving it.
Perhaps you’d like your staff to start using a new system you’ve set up in the organization. Your idea of success could be a 75% increase in active users on this system by the end of the month.
Be specific by including quantities (such as percentages) and timeframes.
As you can see, numbers are important in assessing your progress. However, don’t forget that feedback should also come from the stakeholders, as communication must go both ways in any thriving business. Check in with your team regularly and use their comments to improve your communication strategy whenever possible.
Summing it all up
Good communication is essential for businesses to succeed with PLM and a change management initiative.
A communication strategy ensures that all stakeholders have a clear understanding of what is going on in the company, why changes have been or are being made, and how it will impact them. It ensures that the business runs smoothly and that everyone involved is satisfied and working the best way possible.
At Share PLM we know that creating your own communication strategy can be an overwhelming task, and we are here to help you!
As specialists in change management and communications, we can craft a personalised communication strategy for your business to help supercharge your PLM program.