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Is change management with project delivery worth the cost?

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Whether employees understand IT or dread using it, getting digitally savvy can't be avoided in today's workplace. With added features developing faster than people are used to, new product breakthroughs can feel overwhelming. According to J.B Wood, Todd Hewlin and Thomas Lah, this is called the ‘consumption gap’; it’s the difference between what the digital product can do, and the features individuals are using. This can be due to lack of time, knowledge or maybe how difficult it is to adopt but either way, the full capability of the product that has been paid for is not being used.

For organisations, it’s a real concern for those investing in digital tools and finding they are not always getting the expected return on the investment. It requires rethinking traditional IT to consume better software and systems that will improve not only the employee’s experience but also engage customers and partners and optimise operations using product innovation.  

In an ever-changing world, this means unpredictability is causing volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) environments in our ecosystem. Gone are the days of delivering change projects with stability. Change today is complex and organisations are keen to find value propositions where not only decisions and actions create opportunities, but where risks are spotted too. For project managers, this highlights the vulnerabilities and how business challenges need to solve commercial problems with change management included in projects. The expense is worth the cost as we see more organisations paying a premium for not doing so. According to Prosci applying even basic change management practices is three times more likely to achieve success and outweigh the cost of potential pitfalls. 

How can change management make a difference? 

According to McKinsey, these top 3 trends are having the biggest impact on CEOs in 2023:

  1. The rise of disruptive digital technologies
  2. The risk of prolonged high inflation and economic downturn
  3. The escalation of geopolitics as risks

Let’s break this down using the PESTLE technique to understand real-world problems and determine how projects managing people’s change agility and adaptability can help: 


Political: current and potential influences from political pressures

Global impact: worldwide politics is increasing the risk of cyber-attacks as the modern weapon of choice.

Business impact: digital investment is rising exponentially from application to automation to improve safety and accidental errors in the workplace.

Project impact: systems with advanced security services are becoming dependent on people's know-how of new technologies as a first line of defence.


Economical: local, national or world economic factors

Global impact: high inflation is causing economic downturns and expensive borrowing to reduce excessive spending impacting businesses and consumers.

Businesses impact: organisations are making strategic cost reductions from cost-cutting business operations, rationalising entities and tightening procurement policies.

Project impact: inflated costs force decision-makers to stimulate growth by increasing productivity from existing technologies to seek out opportunities to adapt.


Sociological: trends and behaviours in society

Global impact: rising Inflation is causing a global cost of living crisis. 

Business impact: organisations are supporting people to manage difficulties with financial burdens.

Project impact: societal change is lowering employee optimism so it's important we stay conscious of morale and people's level of engagement within a project.


Technological: new and emerging technology

Global impact: the international upsurge of digital intelligence is rising across all industries.

Business impact: innovation in products and services is helping customers do more and according to McKinsey 62% of CEOs are developing critical tools to increase their growth. 

Project impact: an employee's expertise and renewed confidence in digital services need to ensure the moral and ethical implications stay at the centre of our decision-making.


Legal: regulation and protection laws

Global impact: the rise of cybercrime is increasing data breaches.

Business impact: safeguarding data privacy and the protection of that data needs the policy controls to be up-to-date and followed.

Project impact: addressing people's digital behaviours as part of a project helps to minimise the organisational risk as a plausible mitigation.


Environmental: local, national and international environmental issues

Global impact: global warming is causing extreme weather conditions so proposals for decarbonising all sectors require action to reach net zero.

Business impact: when organisations are held accountable for environmental practices and acting on the issues people care about they attract top talent and new applied thinking.

Project impact: project outcomes can build policies for the workforce to act upon and apply change management methods to achieve the goal.

With a view of these factors, you can see how effective it is to link change management to financial performance, strategic targets and project delivery. The reward of using change management then becomes a topic your leaders care about, in a language that resonates. Reversing the idea of not questioning how much change management costs but rather justifying the investment with its purpose and relevance to the project profession. 


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