The answer is not a new bottle of Tums. Research findings from Gartner1, Prosci2, and other highly reputable firms, consistently substantiate change management. More specifically, managing the people side of change is a leading factor in having the most impact on the ROI of projects. Lack of structured change management is called out as a main factor in projects not achieving desired results. Yet, organizational change management is also cited in surveys as a weak capability for many organizations. On top of this, many business leaders facing huge technology, process and organizational changes still question the need for meaningful investment in the people side of change. Why??
Let’s assume based on all the fact based research and real life experience, if you properly plan and execute change management, it works – the project is highly likely to return the desired results. Within an organization people make decisions about plans, budgets and projects. People execute against those plans. Therefore, people have to want it, have to change themselves, and have to take action.
Now let’s take a quick look at what is in it for some key stakeholders in your organization:
Project Business Sponsor/Executive Leader
“It seems we never have time or funding to do it right, but always have time and funding to do it over.” Sound familiar from your experience? Those who have failed and had to pay the price (in many ways) to re-implement/re-do/re-invest demonstrate the powerful effect of proper attention to the people side of change in getting a sustainable win from project investment. And undeniable success is what you are taking the effort and exposure to sponsor, right?
Funders, Leaders holding the purse strings and approving the budgets
Change management could be thought of as investment insurance and assurance. What is the real price in dollars, productivity and talent, of failing, e.g. with a major software implementation? Compare this to the 15% of project budget suggested by Gartner1 for change management resulting in sustained, long term payback on total project investment.
Department and Line Managers
If you are engaged in the change from the planning phase forward, e.g. giving input and receiving communications about what is coming, you can be less reactive and more proactive in doing your part, gaining the benefits and efficiencies in your area of accountability and for your teams, not only as an end result of the project but more ease as the project advances through development and implementation phases.
Project Managers say change management and engagement with stakeholders actually save time, money and screw-up’s. Attention to the people side of change also brings insights which motivate project teams. Experienced PM’s make sure change management, in some form, is included, even if they have to do it themselves.
When end users are well represented throughout the project, our experience shows the benefits for users are a smooth transition, less interruptions/disruptions, and new capabilities that really work – they can actually see and experience the value. Their needs are met.
No matter what one’s role is in a project, people are people. They want to know “What’s In It For Me, Myself, and I?”
About Debra Larsen
Debra is a Senior Consultant in Statêra’s Business Transformation practice. For over 20 years she has worked as a change management consultant, project manager, and interim executive manager across industries and organizations of all sizes. Come hear her insights as she presents as a member of the Change Management Panel at the 2016 Rocky Mountain Project Management Symposium in Denver on April 29, 20163.
1 Lessons From 169 SAP Implementations Using Service Providers in North America, Gartner 2011 https://www.gartner.com/doc/1572214/lessons-sap-implementations-using-service
3 2016 Rocky Mountain Project Management Symposium http://pmimilehi.org/content.php?page=Symposium