In today’s world, market conditions and the business requirements to compete are changing on a daily basis. The main drivers behind these changes are advances in technology and increasingly steeper customer demands. Now more than ever successful organizations need to be agile; ready to adapt, shift, and modify their business model and service offerings. This means they also need to be internally agile so they can adapt and shift their processes and workflows to become more efficient and deliver greater value. Nowadays, this typically involves the adoption of new tools and technology solutions.

Defining solution requirements and sorting through available products is resource-intensive and time-consuming enough. Developing a strategy to ensure employees understand the need to change and possess the skills required to adopt the solution implemented is another challenge altogether. Unfortunately, this is the area of project management that is typically overlooked and most often causes gaps between a projects forecasted and realized return on investment. Eliminating these gaps is where change management comes into play.

So, what is Change Management you may ask?
Change management involves the processes, tools and systems used to manage the human aspects of change in an organization, and it takes multiple forms:

On a Project Level
  • Change management is the application of a structured process and set of tools for leading the people side of change to achieve target business outcomes.

On an Organizational Level
  • Change management is a leadership competency for enabling change within an organization.
  • Change management is a strategic capability designed to increase change capacity and responsiveness.

Why is Change Management needed?

So now that you understand what change management is all about, I am going to explain why it is necessary. Some of you reading this article might be thinking “But if we have a better solution, our employees will understand this and be excited to change.” WRONG. The natural human reaction is to resist change, and this is no different when it comes to people and their jobs. If we want to be successful at transitioning through organizational change we need to anticipate resistance, and be ready with plans in place to mitigate it. Change management efforts when focused on individuals help to create an understanding about the reasons for change and thus foster an interest in making the change. After this is achieved, change management strategies should be leveraged to educate employees and equip them with the new skills they will need to successfully operate in their future states. Finally, in order to ensure sustainability of new behaviors and attitudes organizations should plan efforts to reinforce adoption. The easiest way to do this is to celebrate success early and often. This can be as simple as giving an employee a shout out during a meeting, or providing incentives and rewards.

There are many simple business justifications you can use to convince your organization to include change management in your next project’s SOW. For starters, studies show that an extreme positive correlation exists between well-defined change management strategies and meeting or exceeding objectives. In Prosci’s 2018 executive change management research study, it was found that organizations who have mature versus lagging change management competencies were up to six times more likely to fully achieve intended project objectives. Another major selling point is that change management reduces negative effects such as resistance, rejection, disengagement, and general office negativity. The worst case scenarios resulting from poor change management include: turnover of valued employees, tangible customer impacts, active resistance, and employees opting out of change. These negative consequences can never be completely eliminated, but the more change management is applied the more they will be mitigated. Lastly, change management directly addresses the people-dependent factors of ROI. Change management accelerates adoption within the user community, increases utilization, and improves individual proficiency levels.

Unfortunately, most organizations today do not have the internal capacity or competency to effectively develop change management strategies and integrate them into project management plans and timelines. That said, not all organizations necessarily should invest in developing a change management function. Outside of larger enterprise businesses, change is rarely occurring on a regular basis. For most companies, the best option is to outsource the change management component of their projects. Consulting firms like Corcentric can develop, deliver and integrate change management strategies into your organization’s project plans. The current business landscape demands organizations embrace continuous improvement and digital transformation, or else lose the ability to compete. Organizations who deploy proper change management strategies will improve employee adaptation and solution adoption during periods of transformation. These companies are far more likely to:
  • Achieve their planned objectives
  • Complete projects on time and within budget
  • Receive the forecasted return on investment (ROI)

Whether you are struggling with employee adoption of a new process already in place, or planning a major implementation, Corcentric’s Advisory team is here to support your business as it prepares to transition to its future state. For more information about our change management practice and other professional services and solutions, please visit our website.

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Pat Baumgardner

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