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5 Reasons change management matters for project success


A growing body of evidence suggests that a purely technical approach to introducing change is significantly less likely to be successful than one that also focuses on the people side of change. Change management, as a discipline in its own right, is increasingly recognised as a critical differentiator between project success and failure. But how does change management make a difference? Following are just a few of the benefits of adopting change management.

1. Develop an agile organisation

Many organisations are facing the demands of faster, more complex and more interdependent change. Perhaps you’re introducing technology to enable flexible working, reengineering a business process or transforming customer experience. The chances are your organisation is facing the pressure to change on multiple fronts at the same time.

Organisational change is less and less the stage managed event every few years that it once was. Even when successful you’re likely to ‘celebrate’ with the next change project. How then can you deliver consistent results on each project and how can your organisation develop the capability to deliver almost constant change?

 

2. Increase the likelihood of project success

A growing body of evidence points to change management significantly increasing the likelihood of your project delivering the outcomes it was intended to. Also, there are consistent factors that play a critical role such as the quality of sponsorship, having dedicated change management resources and integration of change management with project management.

Developing your knowledge and skills in change management can make all the difference.

3. Increase adoption

Organisational change is the cumulative impact of many individuals committing to ‘be different’ in some way. Well implemented projects from a technical perspective all too often fail to deliver the benefits and outcomes expected. At the root of this challenge is often the lack of adoption of new ways of working, systems or technology.

Effective change management reduces productivity decline during the change process and significantly increases adoption levels, boosting return on investment and benefits delivery.

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4. Maximise the impact of project management

Many organisations have invested in their project management capability. As the project management profession has become more established the question might be asked: why now invest in change management? Why do we need another approach? However, it is not an either-or choice.

Project and change management are complementary disciplines which, when integrated well, increase your chances of success.

5. Reduce change project costs and risks

On the flipside, ignoring the people side of change can bring with it some predictable consequences both for your project and your wider organisation.

For your project, lack of attention to change management can result in you facing greater resistance, missed milestones, failure to deliver on your business case, rework and lost investment to name a few.

For your organisation, the ripple effects of poorly managed change can be even more significant. Some of the negative impacts can be more immediate such as opportunity costs, reduced morale, increased absenteeism and regretted losses of valued personnel.

Perhaps even more important are the long-term effects on your organisation’s ability to deliver change in the future. The legacy of failed change makes every subsequent change effort more challenging. Just as organisations can develop deeper capability for change, repeated sub-optimal or failed change creates a culture of scepticism at best and resistance at worst. This cumulative effect can make it harder to get sufficient alignment around strategy and its implementation.

I’ve come to the conclusion that becoming an agile organisation will become a necessity for the vast majority. Agile organisations develop the people, methods and culture to deliver consistently on boththe technical and people aspects of change. Change management provides the necessary focus on the people side of change to enable agility.

Despite the evidence however, lack of adoption of change management remains a significant issue for many organisations.

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