Change management

Definition

Change management is a structured approach to moving an organisation from the current state to the desired future state.

General

The conversion of outputs into outcomes and benefits invariably requires some form of organisational change. Resistance to change is a natural phenomenon, so managing change in a structured and controlled manner is essential if the benefits in a business case are to be realised.

Organisations respond to change in many different ways. One way of understanding how an organisation may react to change is through metaphors. Morgan identified eight organisational metaphors that include regarding an organisation as a machine, an organism or a political system.

There are many change management models, such as those of Kotter, Carnall and Lewin. Each model has a different approach and applies different metaphors. Carnall’s model, for example, is applicable to organisations that operate like a political system but not those that operate like a machine, whereas Lewin’s model is the reverse.

A typical, generic, change management process might include the following steps, each of which resonates with the P3 environment and processes.

Figure 3.8: Change management process

In P3 management the assess step constitutes what is needed to convert outputs into outcomes and benefits.

The prepare step involves creating a vision and gaining support. This would form part of the concept phase of a project or programme. This is when stakeholder management is used to gain support for the outline business case, with particular emphasis on changes required to business-as-usual. In the definition phase of a project or programme, this would also include establishing governance and roles to support change, such as the appointment of business change managers.

The plan step is a familiar process to both P3 managers and change managers. The various P3 plans and schedules must take change into account, particularly in the communication management plan and the risk management plan.

The implement step is the heart of the process. It includes communicating the benefits of the change, removing obstacles and coordinating the activities that transform business-as-usual from the status quo to the new way of working. Much depends on the organisation’s readiness for change. This is represented by three key factors:

  • dissatisfaction with the current situation (A);
  • desirability of the proposed change (B);
  • practicality of the proposed change (D).

These factors are often included in the formula:

C = (ABD) > X

This demonstrates the fact that, for change (C) to be successful, the combination of A, B and D must be greater than the cost of the change (X).

For changes to deliver the benefits required by the business case, they have to be stable and become the normal way of working. The sustain step will continue beyond the P3 life cycle to ensure that value is continually realised from the investment in the project, programme or portfolio.

Project

Projects often conclude with the delivery of an output that is handed over to the client or user organisation. The latter then takes responsibility for any change management required to ensure that benefits accrue from the output.

This does not necessarily mean that the project has no responsibility for change management. The project management team can support the assessment, preparation and planning steps of the change management process and coordinate with the change management team to facilitate implementation.

Where the output of a project and resulting benefit are independent of any other outputs and benefits, then responsibility for benefits management and the change management component may be included in an extended project life cycle.

Programme

Programmes invariably involve significant change. This needs to be coordinated across multiple projects and business-as-usual units. The programme organisation is set up to place equal emphasis on the delivery of outputs and the management of change that realises the benefits.

At the outset of a programme it is not easy to predict all the necessary change. The concept of a programme vision and blueprint forms an essential part of the ‘assess’ and ‘prepare’ steps of the change management process.

Early communication and promotion of the vision will help to develop an understanding of the desirability and practicality of the change from an early stage.

A common obstacle to change is the volume of change imposed on individuals, teams or business units. The programme management team should structure the tranches of the programme and coordinate the project schedules to ensure that change comes in manageable pieces.

Benefits reviews within a programme must focus on sustainability of the changes implemented to ensure that long-term goals in the business case are achieved.

Portfolio

The portfolio management team’s role in change management is one of coordination, validation and governance.

Coordination involves overseeing the change management plans of all projects and programmes in the portfolio to ensure that they work together effectively. For example, if multiple projects and programmes are imposing change on a single business unit this can have a negative effect, either because the unit cannot accommodate that level of change or because the multiple changes counteract each other.

Validation is ensuring that all the change implemented is consistent with the strategic objectives of the portfolio.

Governance involves setting policies for how change will be managed. If different projects, programmes or business units set about change in different ways for no justifiable reason, it can create discord across the organisation as a whole.

 

Join APM

Sign up to the APM Newsletter.