Organizational Change Management

The Importance of OCM in Application Modernization Projects

In the post Tips for Getting Started with Application Modernization, we touched on the importance of organizational change management (OCM) in application modernization efforts. In this blog, I want to explore that further and talk about why OCM is necessary when modernizing your applications – or in any project.

What is OCM?Chief Strategist Badge Final Ocm

Change management can mean different things to different people. Some people regard it as migrating your technology from one region to another. Others consider change management as a process to manage changing scope, budgets, or timelines.

To us, though, OCM is about driving user engagement and adoption. It’s about helping people use a new tool or leverage a new process that’s being implemented.

OCM allows you to realize your ROI for adopting new tools and processes. While these tools and processes are vital, you don’t gain anything as a business if people aren’t using them. In fact, a commonly reported statistic states that two thirds of projects fail not because of technology but because of poor adoption. When projects fail to meet business objectives, scope, and timeline, they ultimately fail to deliver the desired ROI. Meanwhile, approximately 75 percent of your ROI can be found when people use and interact well with a new tool or process, according to Prosci.

These numbers show how important OCM – and active change management in particular – are to a project’s success. In the end, OCM gets people ready, willing, and able to accept new ways of working to ensure project success.

“75% of your project’s ROI comes from when people use and interact well with a new tool or process”

Why do you need OCM?

You probably already noticed throughout this blog that we believe OCM is vital for any project. However, this is especially the case for application modernization or cloud computing, where organizations need to prepare for large-scale disruption.

By modernizing your applications, you’re changing the entire way that your IT organization operates. Ideally, you achieve greater velocity in your application lifecycle, focusing on coding, integrating applications across environments, and transforming your infrastructure. In the end, you want to get more out of your data, break down data silos, and ultimately improve the consumer experience.

To achieve that objective, your people need to believe in the project and be able to work in a new way. Their daily tasks are going to change. While automating cumbersome, manual processes will allow people to focus on more important tasks, they need to understand the benefit of this effort. They also must adapt to the new ways of learning and will likely pick up new skills along the way.

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Why OCM matters for application modernization

Application modernization is particularly difficult because it’s such a large-scale change. The IT organization as a whole will have to change how it operates, and the results can go beyond there. In these cases, you’re seeking buy-in from multiple groups before things go live. And without that buy-in, your projects are doomed to fail.

However, these difficulties can be overcome. According to Prosci, projects with change management are six times more likely to meet or exceed expectations. This is especially true of transformative work like application modernization, where you focus on maturing your people, processes, and technology. You can’t drop in a new way of working and new technology while expecting it to add value to your business. The true value is in bringing your people with you to use new systems and processes to their full capabilities.

“Projects with change management are six times more likely to meet or exceed expectations.”

How do you execute OCM for application modernization?

OCM is important for all projects. Our proven methodology, while tweaked for each case, holds true across a range of projects, including application modernization. At Perficient, the OCM team is part of the full project team. We follow this approach because change management needs to occur in tandem with technology change. This ensures people are ready to use the new technology and processes once they’re in place.

Our approach has four distinct phases:

  • Set the parameters, build the foundation, and provide the rationale (the why) for the change.
  • Identify the key stakeholders for the project and work through a communications strategy. This strategy aims to take people from awareness of the change to overcoming resistance points to knowing what they need to do.
  • Build a training strategy for those impacted. Training should be meaningful and fit in with their way of working. You want to overcome the adoption risk of people not using the new technology.
  • Establish how this change will continue over the long-term. Adoption isn’t enough – your goal is continued use. People have a natural tendency to revert to old ways of working. You also want to overcome the sustainability risk of people reverting to old methods.

Get the business visionaries and IT on the same page

With OCM for application modernization, the reason behind the change may differ. While the business side has traditionally been the architect of change with the business goal in mind, the IT organization is becoming more of the technology source.

Communicating with both IT and the business is key, especially because modernizing your applications is such a large shift. Large-scale change means that everyone will be impacted in some way. As a result, you will have key stakeholders throughout the company invested in project success, and ensuring alignment is critical. After all, active and visible executive sponsorship is the number one contributor to success for any initiative.

The importance of OCM

OCM is crucial for projects generally. But considering large-scale changes such as application modernization, this is especially true. Your IT organization must change the entire way they work – and employing a significant change management plan will likely yield a successful outcome. In the end, you not only want this change to be adopted at the time of implementation, but you also want sustainable change. Sustainability allows your IT organization to deliver the business benefits of working in a modern environment over the long haul.

Learn more about application modernization

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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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