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Management Consulting

Change Management – Making it Real

When done right, Change Management can make all the difference in a project’s success. Prosci repeatedly surveys the industry, and the results are consistent – projects with effective Change Management are six times more likely to be successful than those that don’t. That success in meeting business objectives, scope and timeline drives ROI, which is the name of the game for most projects.

So, if that’s the case, why don’t we add Change Management to each and every project we do? I ask myself that all the time (and truth be told, I ask many others, too!). One of the biggest conclusions that I’ve come to is that we in the Change Management space don’t always perform Change Management well.

OK, so what does performing Change Management but not performing it well look like? Now there’s a good question.

Change Management has an inherent challenge in that our work doesn’t produce anything that a client (or internal business unit) can sell, or anything that makes a product that can be sold. No, we prepare the users to make or do those things, which has value but is also indirect. We create Cases for Change (the why for a project), Stakeholder Assessments, Communication Plans, and Training Plans, for example. But many may say, what’s the value of those?

The answer is – wait for it – nothing, if they are not used properly! And that’s where Change Management practitioners mess up. We often create these pretty deliverables that we don’t use to get the results we’re looking for – a ready, willing and able work force that is engaged and excited for new ways of working.

On the other hand, when Change Management is performed well, the work looks very different. While the deliverables may still be pretty, they’re also very actionable.

For example, that Case for Change we built the first week of the project? You remember, the one that helps us describe why a company is investing in a new system or process, ultimately drilling down to “what’s in it for me?” from a user’s perspective? At the end of the day, that’s not a pretty wall poster in the project’s war room, but it’s the foundation for each and every communication message that goes out and the key to buy-in. Literally – we have to include the Case for Change points in the communication artifacts themselves, starting with the first one.

The Stakeholder Assessment that we created the second week of the project? We will use it to build a comprehensive Communication Plan that sends the right message to the right audience(s) at the right time.  The Stakeholder Assessment is also revisited throughout a project to ensure that we stay on top of changing stakeholder dispositions and issues – after all, the stakeholders are human. Keeping tabs on these factors allows us to update and augment our Communication Plan to ensure we address concerns in as real time of a manner as we can.

I can go on, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a Stakeholder Assessment created by never iterated, or a Communication Plan that just dies out because it’s not kept current, but the point is that each and everything we do, if done well, has a purpose. Each feeds another, and each plays an active role in making Change Management real.

If I can brag on my team a bit, we’ve had two clients in the last month who (unsolicitedly) came to me to say, “I’ve never seen Change Management work this way before. In the past, it’s always been conceptual or theoretical. But your team – they’re making it real. I see how it all works together. I see the value, and now I get it. It’s making a HUGE difference, and I know we’re going to be ready when we go-live.”

As the leader of the practice and a tremendous evangelist for Change Management and why it’s so critical in everything we do, nothing is more satisfying. Is your Change Management as tangible as you’d like it to be? Are you seeing it make a difference and drive results? If not, take a look at your work and that of your Change Management team. Make sure the work products are being used the way they were intended, and that they are working together. You might be surprised at what you find.

Thoughts on “Change Management – Making it Real”

  1. Good article David and I am seeing very successful projects brought to completion because of your team\’s practices. Keep up the good work.

    Ken Gilley

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David Chapman

David is the General Manager for Perficient's Organizational Change Management practice, part of the Strategic Advisors Team. He has over twenty years of consulting experience and resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. Be sure to also check out David’s personal blog. It focuses on collaboratively building the breadth and depth of our collective change management knowledge based on insights and experiences shared to help one another grow.

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