With SO MUCH change in our lives these days, personally and professionally, from consumer information overload to endless technology impacts and influences—“change management” has become a personal and an industry buzz phrase that gets thrown around a lot! But what does change management really mean? The following is an attempt to address this question from an organizational perspective.
Change management (sometimes abbreviated as CM) is commonly used as a collective term for roles and responsibilities designed to prepare, enable, and support individuals impacted by change to drive successful adoption. While Project Managers can assume some of this, their primary focus is schedule, budget, and resources. Change Management’s primary focus is the people side of change.
Frequently, training is considered part of Change Management. For simplicity, this post considers training a separate but integrated component of Change Management.
Pictures can replace a thousand words, so take a moment to consider these two scenarios.
Trained Change Practitioners leverage a variety of frameworks. Many leverage Prosci’s ADKAR model*. This acronym represents a simple set of progressive milestones for individuals to successfully adopt change:
Awareness of the need for change.
Desire to participate and support the change.
Knowledge on how to change.
Ability to adopt skills and behaviors for the change.
Reinforcement to sustain the change.
Using this framework to guide stakeholders through any change initiative amplifies change success by 600%*! Sounds like a no-brainer, right? BUT — all too often the Awareness and Desire milestones are skipped, completed late or not executed well. When stakeholders learn about changes when they are trained – which is a big topic on its own – they don’t get to process the “why” and resistance to the changes is greatly elevated. This puts adoption at high risk, no matter how carefully the tools and processes were designed.
Common Misconceptions of Change Management
- “Change Management is just a simple communication plan and a training plan.” These two components are key to the Awareness, Desire, and Ability of ADKAR, but are only effective if they are executed to fit the organizational culture and the scope of the project, which requires a trained CM perspective.
- “The Project Manager will take care of Change Management.” An exceptional PM might plan for and provide some change management oversight, but change management is best facilitated by an experienced change practitioner integrated with the project team.
- “Change Management happens right before the change is implemented.” Critical to leveraging Prosci’s® ADKAR model is the healthy pace of progressing through each of the five milestones. If users do not have a chance to adapt at each milestone, successful adoption is at high risk. Best-in-class transformation projects begin with a Change Readiness Assessment that informs a Change Management Strategy aligned with the project plan.
- “Change Management is expensive.” In a large-scope project in a large organization a great change management effort may require a team of practitioners. In a typical ERP or CRM implementation with 300-500 users, a Change Management Consultant can facilitate impactful strategies and tactics with just 10-20 hours a week when partnered with an organization resource who has similar bandwidth. Of course, this estimate depends on various factors.
The Impact Areas of Digital Transformation: People, Processes, and Technology
Every project is different, but what they all have in common is the three impact areas that drive successful adoption: people, processes, and technology. All too often the focus is entirely on technology because it is the primary cost driver. But people define the processes and people must adopt the new processes for the technology to deliver the planned return on investment.
The primary focus of CM Practitioners is to advocate for the top half of this formula – the “People” side. They develop strategies and communications to resonate with the stakeholders and foster consideration for the users’ perspective across the team.
What Does a Change Management Consultant Do?
A Change Management Consultant is an advocate for effectively driving change. Partnering with a client Change Agent(s), a CM Consultant will collaborate and/or facilitate with an organization using various techniques and templates during a transformation project on critical deliverables:
- Facilitate a Sponsorship Alignment Workshop to align sponsors and key project team members on the project vision and goals, project resources and governance needs, and on the role of change management to attain the project objectives.
- Perform an organizational Change Readiness Assessment to gather strategic insights and develop the change management strategy specifically for the project and aligned with the organization, including organizational culture, history of change, communication channels and quality, decision making processes, current process pain points, and wish lists.
- Develop a Change Management Strategy that includes communication, engagement, resistance mitigation, progressive learning, sponsor roadmap, training approach, adoption/continuous improvement plan.
- Join team Workshops and Meetings to ensure alignment, build and maintain rapport with team members, facilitate communications to elevate understanding for all. The CM Consultant is typically NOT a technology expert but does have strong experience in related business processes and how the change in processes impacts users.
- Collaborate with Change Agents to implement the CM Strategy and continuously review and adjust tactics based on team feedback, challenges, and opportunities.
- Create and monitor Feedback Loops with all stakeholder groups to proactively mitigate risks by collaborating with the project team.
- Coach Change Agents and Sponsors to engage and communicate with stakeholders, carefully consider impacts and plan mitigations to drive adoption.
- Facilitate a Training Plan with Change Agents and Sponsors to best align with scope of change, user personas, and training resources.
- Facilitate a Continuous Improvement Plan for Business Processes through collaboration with business process owners and change agents to set clients up for long-term success and maximize their technology investments.
Is your business looking to engage in a digital transformation initiative but lacking a change management process to match your ambition? Then get in touch with Argano. We help organizations develop effective CM processes to facilitate change successfully.
*Source: Prosci Benchmarking Data