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Why business readiness is so important to a successful project delivery when introducing change

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Head of Programmes, Abi explained that implementing change successfully in any organisation is not easy and can be a complex activity, involving changes to processes, culture and new ways of working. Success will also depend heavily on the readiness of the business and the receptiveness of its people to want to change to the desired state so that the required benefits can be realised. The assessment of business readiness is essential to be able to plan and successfully implement change. Unfortunately, this is often forgotten, when planning for change.

Read more about change management.
Burges Salmon puts the client at the heart of everything when planning change, and organisation culture, feedback and values are key influencers.  Having a positive and supportive culture is a key factor when assessing change readiness.
Organisations have different cultures and challenges, and approaches to business readiness will therefore be different in different organisations: there is not a one size fits all.
The audience was asked to reflect on their experience of change: was is a ‘soft landing’ or a ‘hard landing’ and was the journey a ‘bumpy ride’. It was recognised that time spent planning and assessing the readiness of would de-risk a change project and increase chances of success.
From a business perspective, Burges Salmon must always ensure that lawyer time is used efficiently in order to maintain services as this is the lifeblood of the company. Any change initiatives agreed by the Firm’s partners must ensure that there is no adverse impact on clients. Therefore, for Burges Salmon, it is very much an essential requirement that business readiness is well planned before embarking on change.
The time for implementing change is also a key factor. Don’t try to implement a change project when other changes are already being implemented. Change overload is a real consideration. Looking at the change portfolio using a ‘heat map’ will help identify the appropriate timings to avoid overload.
The audience were asked to consider five questions:

1. When you deliver a project who do you need to think about?
All stakeholders should be considered, especially End Users, budget holders and sponsors;   
2. What methods would you use to mitigate concerns over the changes a project might deliver?
Honest communication, listening to stakeholder concerns, actioning those concerns and involve those stakeholders in the solutions. Ensure that benefits are described for all stakeholders i.e. ‘what is in it for me’.
3. How do people react to change?
Some support it, some don’t and some hearts can be won but it does need to be very carefully handled and communicated;   
4. What are the most common emotions?
Anger, shock and excitement, depending  on the context and the scale and whether people need to contribute or if they feel threatened. 
5. How do you think you might address those emotions and what methods would you use?
Clear, honest and open communications are essential as well as emphasising it not be a success without their contributions. 
Hazel and Fiona then outlined two case studies around the implementation of a mobile and remote working programme and a new business workflow for client and matter inception as part of the legal management process. Key themes centred on the need for excellent planning, focus on training the user communities, showcasing new technology, ‘show and tell’ communications and using a Genius Bar as a support approach for end users. The client and matter inception project had received an award at the firm’s AGM, recognising a project which had contributed to delivering excellent client service. 
In summary, it was clear that implementing change is not easy and there are many factors that need to be considered well in advance of implementation. Assessing business readiness, engaging stakeholders and learning lessons from past projects as part of planning is key to successfully implementing change. Ultimately it is about people, and being able to take them with you.

A copy of the presentation can be viewed below or on the APM Slideshare page


Bruce Philips
SWWE Committee


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