Manage change?

My first introduction to change management was when I was working in IT.  I was a project manager on a SAP project for HR and we engaged a consulting partner to help us with requirements analysis for a multi-country implementation.  It was an interesting project because, while we had started with a mandate for European implementation, we were quickly swallowed up by a global implementation that involved a different consulting partner and different vision for integration. It was one of the messiest projects I’ve ever had the privilege to work on.  It was also a great example of how and why organizations need to look at change management right from the start and use it, one, to determine if the project is “do-able”, and two, to work out if the planned ROI is achievable.

First, is it ‘do-able’? It’s not about whether the system can be created, tested and implemented.  It’s about whether people will use it the way that they’re supposed to.  Most IT implementations pay for themselves in efficiency savings. It’s all about building a better mousetrap and redirecting the workforce to higher value activities or reducing the overall workforce needed to accomplish a set of tasks.  The thing is, if these people don’t use the system the way that it’s designed, there is no savings.  In fact, organizations can wind up losing efficiency and spending more time that they did before the system was in place.  So, when I ask the question, is it ‘do-able, this is what I mean:

  1. Does the management team believe that this is the right solution and actively support its implementation and usage?
  2. Are the key users ready and willing to make a change in how they work?
  3. Are customers (internal or external) going to feel the change, and if so, can we positively communicate the impact and actively manage the impact?
  4. Are there sufficient resources to ensure services during the training and transition period?

Second, is it financially achievable? This is about whether the project is going to deliver a return on investment.  It’s all about the money.  Sometimes it’s about opportunity cost or risk management (in the case of legacy systems) but most often it’s about people efficiency.  Getting better value (more work) from the same or fewer people.

  1. Are the project sponsors ready to manage the people impact of the project?
  2. Are there resources in place to support the people transition, as well define and track metrics to show returns?
  3. Has the project team included systems retirement, or other technical gains, as part of the work plan?
  4. Is there a positive return on investment (within 3-5 years)?

If the answers to any of these questions is “No”, or “I don’t know”, then you need to look what specific activities need to be put in place to turn the “No” into a “Yes”.  If you don’t, then you may not get to where you need to go.

Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville
Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville, “The History of France from the Earliest Times to the Year 1789”


This article is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to be human resources consulting advice or specific advice for your business needs.

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