There are many factors underpinning the success of enterprise technology projects. Some might imagine that the choice of vendor is one of the big ones; it’s even ingrained into tech industry folklore, for those who remember ‘nobody ever got fired for buying IBM’. But the facts are somewhat different. Instead, project success depends more on your choice of implementation partner than almost anything else.
And the success of your implementation partner depends, to a great extent, on the value that partner and your own organisation places on change management as an integral part of project delivery and support.
This begs the question: what, precisely, is change management?
Even for those to whom the term is familiar, it is worth taking another look at the formal definition to refresh memories (yes, we’re all busy and constantly forgetting things!)
That definition is simple: ‘Change management is a collective term for all approaches to prepare, support, and help individuals, teams, and organisations in making organisational change.’
It is also profound.
Change, as we all know, isn’t easy. In fact, the older we get, the harder it becomes. Yet, at the same time, we also all know that change is inevitable, except perhaps from a vending machine.
In these days of digital transformation, which is really just a fancy term for modernising older processes and business models, change is expressly implied. After all, DT is all about your organisation putting in new technology and process improvements for better performance, to seize opportunities or address key issues. This means change to processes, job roles, organisational structures and types and uses of technology.
It can even mean completely new business models (and bear in mind that how you do something can be more valuable than what you actually do – Uber, AirBnb and Amazon the bookstore don’t sell anything new or unique, they just sell it very differently).
We’ve done a lot of this sort of change over the course of many years and many customers in multiple industries. In fact, it’s accurate to say that what we deliver is change itself. We take businesses from less effective operating models, to more effective, digitally enabled ones. That’s how we help you unleash your full potential.
Who is affected by change?
Here’s the crunch: changing organisations is easy. In fact, you don’t even need change management to completely rearrange the way your business works. Just wallop in a new operating model and walk away.
But that’s precisely where the trouble starts (and it happens a lot, unfortunately). Organisations are made up of people, and people are creatures of habit. That shiny new system or process looks amazing on paper, but if Fred in Sales doesn’t like it, doesn’t know or care how it works, or has no appreciation of why it’s even there in the first place, then it isn’t going to work.
Fred will either work around it, sabotage it, or simply find work somewhere else.
In other words, if your employees don’t come along for the ride, if they don’t embrace and learn a new way of working, all the greatest tech in the world will fail.
This drives home the point of change management. It is crucial if any initiative is to deliver the expected results.
Process and competency
Change is deceptively difficult. That’s because it is so obvious as to appear easy – of course it should be managed! Of course our people need support!
It gets suddenly hard for two simple reasons. The first is cost. Managing change adds to the price of your transformation or project delivery, often quite substantially. The second is that it is a competency and a process in its own right and must be treated as such.
Where cost is concerned, the real issue is that change management is all too often seen as an easily dispensed with line-item. At the stroke of a pen, a project can be brought within time and within budget, slashing perhaps 10 or 15 percent off both key metrics.
But there’s a catch, and it’s a big one. Plenty of projects make time and budget. Does that then make them successful? Not if you asked Fred.
As for process and competency, effective change management follows a repeatable process and uses a holistic set of tools which help turn change into ‘business as usual’. It also provides a structured approach for supporting your people in successfully moving from how things were done before – to how things are done now.
This takes place within three levels: for individuals, for projects and across the enterprise. The ultimate purpose is helping employees embrace, adopt and apply changes in their day-to-day work
What’s the point?
Yes, that’s a good (and simple) question. There’s plenty of research confirming the point of incorporating change management as a non-negotiable into any tech project. The numbers are compelling:
According to the Best Practices in Change Management Report, with change management you are:
- 6x more likely to achieve project objectives
- 5x more likely to stay on or ahead of schedule
- 2x more likely to stay on or under budget
And with excellent change management, employees:
- Adopt changes faster, more completely and more proficiently
- Stay engaged in the organization during disruptive change
- Understand why the change is happening
- Have the time and tools to get on board and feel heard and supported
With these factors considered, the line item for change management is surely no longer seen in terms of its cost. Instead, it can now be seen for its value.
This blog is the first in a series on change management, a discipline Verde integrates into every project we deliver.