Project Description

Research has proven that projects with defined change management programs are five to six times more likely to meet business objectives than those with poor or no change management.

Leading companies understand the essential value organizational change management contributes to the success of their strategic initiatives.   Further, executives of these companies provide ample resources and attention to manage change to ensure their company adopts and embraces new systems and business processes.   In this point of view, we clearly define organizational change management and outline the critical value of this competency to help you realize and sustain the expected benefits of your own projects.

The Types of Change Management

What exactly is change management? This common phrase is defined differently, usually based on a person’s role within the organization or project. For IT professionals, it usually means managing systemic changes associated with applications (e.g., software upgrades or enhancements), architecture or infrastructure. In project management, it usually refers to managing scope or schedule change for a specific project. For the ones in between, change management is often defined as the planning and execution of communications, training and role clarity. This latter definition is most often associated with a major software implementation and/or a large organizational restructuring.

Type Description Used For Who Impacted
Systemic Management of the systemic changes associated with IT applications, architecture, or infrastructure
  • System implementations
  • Software upgrades
  • Other IT changes
  • IT professionals
Project Management of scope or schedule change for a specific project
  • All projects
  • Project core team
  • Extended team
Organizational Planning and implementing the tools, processes, skills, and principles for managing the people side of change to achieve the required outcomes of a project or initiative
  • All projects
  • Many system implementations
  • Most software upgrades
  • Many other IT changes
  • Company restructuring
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Introduction of new channels, brands, or business models
  • Targeted employees or departments
  • Ancillary employees or departments
  • IT professionals
  • Stakeholders

The varying definitions often cause confusion about the value of organizational change management (often called OCM). We define OCM as all enabling activities required to achieve the desired outcomes of any major initiative. This means defining new or altered roles and responsibilities and tools as well as planning and executing effective communications and comprehensive training associated with the change. Organizational change management is critical to support transformation expected by the above-mentioned systemic and organizational restructuring.  However, it is also important for any initiative that has transformational characteristics, such as enterprise growth or mergers and acquisition activity.

Some executives dismiss organizational change management as not offering value to their company without really understanding the implications of not having a structured, effective and ongoing OCM program. These same executives are also then perplexed and frustrated when their company does not achieve the expected value from their major initiatives.

Understanding the Value of Organizational Change Management

Let’s get into some details about exactly what organizational change management is and the essential value it can bring to your company.

Organizational change
starts at the beginning

Any major initiative will impact roles and responsibilities–and smaller ones will likely as well. It will also create some level of anxiety and fear to those impacted. This is not to be taken lightly–especially in today’s environment, where many people are desperately seeking employment or unsure about their own job stability or career path. This uncertainty can also impact employee productivity and trust. What must be understood is that your organization’s initiatives and the resulting impacts must be comprehensively defined, planned, communicated, and understood so that your employees are not only fully aware from the beginning, but can also become excited about and embrace the change instead of resisting it.

This means involving anyone even remotely impacted from the very beginning through a structured and well-executed communication strategy and plan. We mentioned in a previous point of view that over 60% of change initiatives fail, due in part to the absence of organizational acceptance. Do not get caught into thinking that a few emails throughout the initiative will be “good enough” because it is not.  Communicate early, often and through multiple vehicles to the appropriate audiences.  You cannot fall short on this critical organizational change management element. People react to communications in different ways, so using multiple vehicles and correct timing is key. Soliciting feedback and having an open, non-judgmental forum for questions, comments and concerns is also vital so employees feel they have a voice and a role in the initiative.

Organizational change
is transformational

Change is not limited to drivers from within the organization. Today’s fast-paced, ever-moving world has created tremendous opportunities for companies to completely reinvent themselves and to discover new customers, new markets, new products, new service lines, and more. With any major initiative comes the chance to dramatically change how your business operates to become more relevant in the market and more successful.  This rapidly evolving world and its transformational opportunities must be proactively addressed by understanding and embracing the essential value of  organizational change management.

Your organization should no longer operate the way it did even five years ago.  Most certainly not with a “but we have always done it this way” mentality. Traditional companies are moving away from their former silo’d models, and towards much more collaborative structures. The big push of moving towards customer centricity means no longer being product focused, and this has wide-ranging implications to your marketing, operations, and merchandising departments. New supply chain models that are also much more collaborative and have stronger suppler-retailer partnerships impact how your distribution, warehousing and logistics teams operate. New technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and augmented reality are pushing retailers way beyond their traditional comfort zones. This means redesigning roles and responsibilities, clearly communicating the new processes and relationships, and implementing well-designed, ample training programs to help your company embrace the transformation and achieve the expected benefits.

Organizational change
is ongoing

“Are we there yet?” The answer will–and should–always be a resounding “No!” This is fortunate depending on how you view it, because right around the corner is a new technology, a new competitor, a new consumer demand: a new opportunity. Each of these opportunities requires a structured approach to change around the project itself, but just as the impending change of seasons continues to bring new consumer trends on which your company must react, these dynamic forces of change will and should instill the fact that organizational change management does not stop when the project is over. There will always be the opportunity to transform–these can be large or small transformations, but each one should have a solid program and dedicated resources to effectively manage the change.

Many companies bring in outside consultants who are experts in the area of organizational change management. However, some organizations have internalized this competency. There is definitely a trend towards building in-house change management capabilities, but there are pros and cons to both approaches. Internally, it may be easier to challenge based on the fact that employees are ingrained and know the business better, and their opinions are therefore respected. Navigating corporate politics internally may also be easier.

However, external consultants often bring more credibility (real or perceived), provide more objective opinions, and are typically granted more respect and access to key stakeholders and decision-makers. Often it is a blend of dedicated internal and external resources that have the skills, tools and experience to most effectively manage change.

Final Word

Organizations who understand the value of having a structured, disciplined and comprehensive organizational change management mindset baked into their culture are well positioned to continually and effectively transform themselves and achieve or exceed the benefits expected with their initiatives.

About Parker Avery

The Parker Avery Group is a leading retail and consumer goods consulting firm that specializes in transforming organizations and optimizing operational execution through the development of competitive strategies, business process design, deep analytics expertise, change management leadership, and implementation of solutions that enable key capabilities.

For more details, contact:

Kathi Toll

Clay Parnell
President & Managing Partner


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