Customer success through change management.


True organizational transformation is about helping people change the way they do things.

“You don’t have to do anything but die.”

This rather blunt, but deceptively motivational statement was a frequent response from my high school coach whenever we felt too apathetic towards some practice drills or other. Do we we have to do sprints in the rain? Do we have to come in on Saturday? Do we have to… etc, etc. It was an effective motivator because the underlying message touched a competitive nerve: No, you don’t have to do anything, as long as you’re okay with failing miserably in front of a crowd of friends, parents, spectators and the opposing team. As a change management strategy, it turned a bunch of talented-but-unmotivated athletes into a winning team. Clever man, our coach.

The whole concept of “getting your head in the game” is what defines the potential for success. While my coach may not have had the eloquence or historic resonance of legendary half-time speeches by Vince Lombardi, he did tap into the underlying psychology of what it takes to get people to change their behavior. There has to be substance, measurability and reward: you have to make people want it themselves. It’s the same inside any organization, and as we’ve touched on in other blogs and podcasts, change management has to be an integral part of any technology implementation if it’s going to enable customer success.


A report from leading analyst group Gartner predicted that 50% of source-to-pay suite deployments will have failed to meet business expectations through poor implementation. A critical part of any implementation is adoption – even the best technology is useless if no one uses it. There are no doubt technical issues involved, but it is likely that these implementation failures equate to change management failures.

And as McKinsey research found, success depends on persuading groups and individuals to change the way they work — a transformation they will accept only if they can be persuaded to think differently about their jobs. Like the solution that’s being implemented, establishing the desired business outcome will determine the extent of the change required. In other words, what will success look like? To manage expectations, you have to set expectations first.


If you build it, they will come. Maybe.

An article in Forbes on the subject of managing change states that, “when the prefrontal cortex is overwhelmed with complex and unfamiliar concepts, the amygdala connection gets knocked into high gear. The result is all those negative feelings of anxiety, fear, depression, sadness, fatigue or anger that change leaders observe in their teams.” Translated, it means that you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to recognize that simply implementing new technology that promises to help people do their jobs better / faster / easier is a guarantee of success.

It is key to get buy in before any solution buying takes place. From senior exec stakeholders to the everyday users, each person has to be brought into the planning stage in order to pregame a successful outcome. Change management is also about managing expectations, and creating a sense of ownership before owning the actual technology is part of that. Determine customer Dave Quillin at Alliant Credit Union explains how he and his team went about defining the process before finding the right tool. As it turns out, planning is everything.


Replace the comfort zone with a new comfort zone.

An interesting point of behavioral finance is that people are more afraid of potential loss than they are inspired by potential gain. That same mindset dictates many choices people make, and it says a lot about the ability – or willingness – to change. When you are used to doing things a certain way, and that way generally works, why change it, even if the change offers the potential to be much more successful? At the heart of it is the fear of failure – no one wants to risk failing at work. A new tool, method or process may provide XX% more benefit, but if “it’s not how we’ve always done it” then the inherent risk may be outmotivating the potential gain.

The Forbes article also explains something else that’s going on inside the brain when people get used to doing things a certain way: “The way we’ve always done it not only feels right, it feels good.” Moving something from the prefrontal cortex mentioned above, to the “feel good” part of the brain is where change management becomes customer success. That comfort zone shift has to initiated by the individual, not coerced by the organization. That’s why getting buy-in early is vital, as the “familiarity” is already there by the time an implementation goes live.


Manage change before change happens.

There is no shortage of literature and resources available on the subject of change management. Our knowledgebase comes from the hands-on experience of seeing how our customers successfully adapt new source-to-pay and contract management solutions within their own organizations, and translating those into best practices. Working with the many leading companies in the Corcentric Global Alliance Partner Program also provides unparalleled insights into how different methods, theories and approaches are used.

As a customer-focused company, Determine doesn’t just “hand-off” the technology after implementation. Our Customer Success and Customer Advocacy programs headed by Senior Vice President of Customer Success Kevin Turner are built on a lifecycle strategy of before – during – after continuous feedback and improvement. Change management starts from the very first meeting, and is integrated throughout the customer relationship.

If you’d like to learn more about our approach, or would like to see how change happens on the Determine Cloud Platform, we invite you to contact us.