Why Digital Transformation in Life Sciences Won’t Succeed Without Change Management

The call-to-action from leadership to adopt a digital-first business strategy is prevalent across industries, and that is certainly true in life sciences. The benefits of such a transformation are numerous (enhanced patient outcomes and experiences, broadened customer reach, streamlined clinical trial data management, faster time to market, etc.), and the impact is widespread across the business. However, in your rush to introduce new technologies or upgrade existing solutions, don’t ignore one of the key components to success: change management. From our perspective at Navigate, if you aren’t prioritizing change management before and during a transformation, you won’t fully realize the value of the change.

Here are four key components of change management that you should consider before you begin a digital transformation.

1. Embed change management early on in the process.

If you’re like many businesses, you may believe that the role of change management is solely at the end of the transformation process – mainly training and communications related to the deployment of new technology. This assumption alone can deter you from experiencing your expected return on investment.

It’s important to recognize that building digital capabilities and transforming a business is a long-term journey, not a single point in time or a specific technology. In order for that journey to be successful, you need to build change management into your strategy from the outset.

From the start of the project, you need to have a clear understanding of all stakeholders and their current and future roles and responsibilities. These stakeholders need to clearly understand what will be expected of them during and as a result of the transformation. Define your change impact strategies as early on as possible to enable widespread adoption of the change.

2. Don’t just focus on technology.

The life sciences industry is evolving, and there is pressure to innovate and stay ahead of the competition. Creative new solution offerings – from digital multi-channel marketing outreach, serialization improvements, blockchain implementation, etc. – are enticing and can enhance research and development, clinical trials, drug development, and more.

But while the technology piece of digital transformation is vital and critically important, becoming caught up in the technology alone could make adoption of the change a heavier lift than necessary. Remember that the technology itself affects a range of people and processes within your organization, and if you want it to perform as expected, you need to comprehensively address the full scope of the change.

3. Engage key stakeholders early and often.

As mentioned above, transformation is more than just technology, it’s people. In your project planning, you should identify and group stakeholders – from leadership all the way down to end users, like patients. Those who are actively involved in the change will require consistent engagement to ensure that they are informed and actively participating. Those who are peripherally impacted by the change may require a different level of interaction. It’s important to consider how you can best communicate with each group of stakeholders to appropriately address their needs. By taking this step, the people involved in the change will understand its importance, their supporting role, and the new behaviors that will be required.

 4. Prioritize empathy.

This is a key differentiator for Navigate. If your stakeholders aren’t prepared for the change and ready to support it, then you won’t succeed. As you plan for the change, be sure to approach your strategy with an empathetic lens. Talk to your stakeholders, understand their roles, their pain points and challenges, and how you can help to support them throughout the change so that they feel like they are truly part of the process, and subsequently, the end result.

A strategic change management plan will accelerate the adoption of your digital transformation and enable you to realize the benefits faster and more consistently. Contact me at [email protected] or 484.383.0606 to discuss your digital transformation plan and how we can support your journey to success.

Tony Ruggieri, Senior Consultant



Change Management Done Right
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