By Neysha Arcelay, Precixa, LLC

Systems, software, hardware, product, process, etc. – these are all important aspects of business transformation. In today’s economy, organizations need to constantly revisit their daily operations and pursue efficiencies to achieve and maintain a competitive advantage.

What is the key to a successful implementation? You must commit to a strong change management strategy in order to yield the expected benefits of any initiative.

What exactly is change management and can you do away with it? Change Management, as defined by Prosci, is “the application of a structured process and tools for leading the people side of change to achieve a desired business outcome.”

In my terms, Change Management is the part of your initiative which eases the effect of the transition to ensure it sticks. If your intended change impacts people, you need change management as part of your initiative. The more people impacted by the change, the more robust your change management strategy must be.

For transformation initiatives that impact operations, the goal of your change management strategy is to increase adoption. The only way to achieve this is by transitioning the mindset of the impacted teams from “the way we do it today” to “the way it needs to be done tomorrow.” This process takes the teams from initial awareness of the change, to understanding it, and ultimately to advocating the benefits, even when you are not watching.

Most transformations require some level of behavioral change, and we know that takes time as we humans are creatures of habit. This is why a robust change management program is critical for success.

Want to reap the benefits of your initiative quickly? It is imperative to incorporate a robust change management strategy in the early stages of your initiative planning process. The earlier you include change management in your program, the higher the adoption rates.

Details for a robust change management strategy will change depending on the scale of the change you are planning to introduce to your organization. How drastic is the change you are introducing? How many will be impacted? Both are important considerations. Regardless of the scope of impact, we recommend your change management strategy include the elements of effective change detailed in the graphic.

We know how important it is to align your organizational strategy and goals to the company’s mission and vision. It is not any different with your change management strategy. The way you execute a certain element of your business may change, but the reason why you do it should not. Make sure the reason why you do what you do is front and center when determining the best way to engage your teams in the transition process. This effort will both increase the team’s understanding and strengthen your credibility as a leader. From that point, develop your change management process through the following stages:

In reality, expense constraints, scope creep, limited resources, and juggling multiple other priorities can negatively impact the time/cost goals of many initiatives. These are often the reason change management efforts are reduced or even eliminated from many initiatives’ plans. How can you avoid this? Prepare a robust business case!

Think about your project sponsor. They need for the initiative to yield certain benefits. Study those benefits thoroughly as an input to your case. Remember to factor in the considerations below:
— Align the project goals and objectives to the impacted teams.
— Establish clear dependencies between the initiative’s goals and the impacted teams.
— Lay out your detailed change management execution plan, resources, and cost.
— Project the potential scenarios resulting from varied levels of adoption and highlight the associated risks.

A detailed business case eliminates any ambiguous perception that may come up in any project. Change management is no different. The ultimate goal for your change management business case is to connect the realization of benefits to the adoption rates, and the ultimate success of your initiative.

Our recommendation for sustaining changes after implementation? Foster inclusive engagement in your organization.

Remember, the people in your organization are your most important asset. An engaged workforce, with the appropriate skillset to perform their duties, will excel in performance and take care of your customers. Supporting that workforce with continuous communication, learning and development opportunities should be not only your top responsibility as a leader but your most critical investment.