As a sourcing professional working with companies of all sizes and types I see many common trends
in how they approach the strategic sourcing process. One that creates more frustration and challenges than most others is change management. The idea in itself is very appealing to upper management within the organizations we work with. It seems so simple of a concept…we have a problem, so we need to come up with a solution to change things. But when it comes down to taking action and creating an environment of change within an organization, the task can be incredibly daunting and often underestimated.

Where the problem is most evident, in my opinion, is not necessarily from an operational standpoint, but behavioral. Operationally speaking management can set new policies and procedures and establish goals and metrics to track against to set the tone for a change management initiative. But no matter how many new rules and regulations are established, if your end users and stakeholders are not truly engaged there is little chance for success.

Companies have been following certain practices for so long that understandably change is a big pill to swallow. That does not mean it is not possible though. When management sets the right tone for change they need to follow through and be more than just a higher voice, they need to be involved in the process. They also need to assign someone in a position of authority to oversee the whole change management process. This person should act as a conduit for change and be able to effectively drive strategy while influencing the people facilitating the change.

A change management initiative is not to be taken lightly. It is something that takes time, planning, and continuous monitoring. Oftentimes a third party can be helpful as well to aid in providing a non-bias view of areas that require focus and coming up with creative solutions that fit the needs of that particular organization. When the change management lead is someone that has been with the company for some time, as you would expect of someone that would carry the necessary authority, that can come with their own reservations and embedded barriers for change. There are companies that specialize in re-organization and change management strategy, even if you just use them to help establish a solid plan because you have the capability to execute on it long term. The more support that is garnered in this type of engagement the better your chance for success.

So ultimately, when considering any type of change management strategy, big or small, be sure to consider all elements and plan accordingly. This includes planning for resistance and ways to overcome that resistance.
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Jennifer Ulrich

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  1. I agree that change managers being able to get involved and effectively engaging stakeholders plays a huge role in the success of change management. There's a great article that came out recently looking at winning over hearts and minds in change management that's also worth taking a look at: