Over the years, there have been many studies focused on the value of Change Management as well as reasons for project failure. If you missed our recent webinar on the importance of change management in project success, we’ve recapped some of the key points discussed below.
Project Failure Linked to a Lack in Change Management
Recently, we looked at a study that looks from a CIO perspective to understand why projects fail. Project failure is not only the inability to implement a new or updated system, but it also means the implementation of a system that fails to achieve the defined benefits.
The chart used with this study shows (see below) very interesting outcomes. We see that 6 of the 10 columns of failure factors, including the top 3, can be traced back to poor or nonexistent change management or change enablement.
One of the many benefits of change management is how it addresses many of the likely causes of project failure. Change management is very much a preemptive approach. Because of this, executing change management should always result in improved project portfolio performance.
Change Management Linked to Greater ROI & Efficacy
Another study we found shows that organizations with excellent change management programs exceeded the defined ROI. But those without change management or with poor change management programs actually experienced a reduction in the anticipated ROI.
The major reason for the latter outcome is employees that are not properly prepared to adapt to changes often take longer to be able to effectively use new processes and systems. Many times this results in implementation delays and rising costs. This study shows direct correlations between the existence and efficacy of change management programs and the ability to stay on budget, stay on schedule, and achieve project benefits. Clearly, there is value in preparing and enabling people to adapt to change.
People: the Heart of Change Management
In any project, there are 2 types of activity that must be addressed for greater effectiveness. First, there are technical aspects such as capital resources. Although some project management decisions, technical in nature, can have variable decision criteria, like trade-offs in feature and value, most of those decisions are logical in nature. So the evaluation framework is relatively straightforward.
However, whenever you look at the people-side of the change, enabling people to adapt to changes is less objective. People are not all the same. Some have a greater aptitude, some have more experience. Many have a different motivation. This is the second type of activity that must be addressed.
While it’s not possible to create individual change enablement approaches for every unique situation, you can adjust common themes that may occur within a given population of users in order to enable change more effectively within that organization. For example, if an organization has a history of project failures, a lot of resistance may arise based on the belief that this is just another project that will never be completed. In a situation like this, it will take great effort to convince individuals that organizational history is not a predictor of current projects themselves.
There are many different frameworks supporting change management in the marketplace. The last diagram depicts a specific framework showing key change management pillars. Most have common elements. However, since these frameworks can be customized, effective change enablement involves consideration of, and adaptation to, organizational nuances. Trying to robotically execute a framework inconsiderate of the potentially unique needs of the user population can leave the most critical aspects of change enablement unaddressed.
When discussing this topic, we are reminded of the time when we were replacing a 30-year old building system, and the availability of stakeholders was challenged because of inspector time away from the office. What did we do? We took the time to build elastic schedules that allowed us to engage the stakeholders during off hours while providing them some future leave. We spent time with them, seeking their counsel as to how to enable them to adapt to the new system by developing customized interaction scenarios.
The Elements of a Framework
With respect to the framework, individuals must always be aware of the nature of the forthcoming changes. Once they are aware, it’s necessary to create the desire within them to be a part of the change. This can be done through a variety of methods. Some examples are defining personal opportunity and value, establishing corporate value, examining group motivations, etc.
Once individuals have the desire, it is necessary to actually engage them in the change. This is more than just requirements elicitation, user acceptance testing, and training which are already undertaken in most projects. Engagement is a process whereby they are a part of the change. We seek their counsel on how we enable them to adapt.
Change does not happen to them; it is enabled by them. They help define what they need to adapt to the changes. To do this, they must understand the nature of the changes. This will include training, but it is much more encompassing. It is our solicitation of their needs, both before and after implementation.
We also seek to craft specific support mechanisms to assist them in adapting to the forthcoming changes as they use the live system. Lastly, we monitor and reinforce the change as a part of continuously improving our capability to enable change. Leadership must show commitment. If the executive team does not visibly support the initiative and communicate the benefits, then few will follow.
To talk more about this topic or find out how we can collaborate in new system implementations, feel free to reach out to one of our team members here. We always look forward to speaking with you. You can also download the recording from our webinar here.