Sustaining Through Change

By Ocie Anderson, PMP, Director of Consulting Services at Navigator

Organizational Change Management (OCM) is a framework for managing the effects of changes in an organization. These changes can be related to new business processes, organizational structure, technology, or cultural changes. For ERP implementations, OCM leadership is the effort of aligning OCM with executive sponsors to proactively lead their organizations through these stages of change. This approach makes change management as equally important as project management when it comes to achieving and sustaining project success.

The graphic to the right depicts several areas within OCM. Rather than going deep into the complex and multi-faceted discipline of OCM, I would like to highlight key requirements for delivering OCM on successful ERP projects, and to discuss how change management contributes to the bottom line.

"The secret to successful change lies beyond the visible and busy activities that surround change. Successful change, at its core, is rooted in something much simpler: How to facilitate change with one person."
~ Jeff Hiatt

You cannot manage change at an organizational level until you know how to manage change with a single individual. Prosci® is a specific OCM framework that addresses the people side of change management through a set of processes and tools designed to move individuals through the stages of change defined as the ADKAR® model (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement).

Understand Project and Solution Impacts
The key to enabling leadership through OCM is to understand where to focus the effort of stakeholders and sponsors. One consideration is to understand the project and solution impacts. It is important to identify the areas that are changing that lead to value-termed strategic improvement areas (read this article to understand how to define and infuse value). At the appropriate stages of the project, it is critical to assess what impacts the changes within each strategic improvement area will have on individuals and the organization. The impacts can be changes to tools used, changes to process, changes to the organization and reporting relationships, etc. In comparison to the current state, some changes may be more impactful than others. Understanding the magnitude of impact of the change will help to determine how much change management effort needs to be put in place to manage the change.

Understand the Criticality of the Change
The second consideration is the criticality of the change. All change efforts on an ERP project may be important but some are more critical to success or have a higher value than others. It is important to understand how critical the change is to the business and what is the consequence of delay or failure in making the change. Changes that directly impact customers and customer behavior may be more critical than changes that affect some back office processes. Some changes to how you manage your supply chain may have more value than changes to how reports are delivered to users.

Understand the Value of the Change
OCM can be used to manage change, focusing on the most critically impacted areas and the areas that deliver value. While I believe that OCM is as equally important as project management, I have seen several instances where OCM is one of the first areas to be cut when budgeting for the project. Many leaders do not see the value. The expectation is that individuals will change because “that is their job”. In addition to understanding why OCM is important to the success of an ERP project, it is important to understand the three ways in which change management contributes to business value and the overall success of the project.

1. Speed of Adoption
How quickly the adoption of new processes, tools, and organizational changes will directly impact the organization’s ability to execute business operations and achieve the business value. Change can be time sensitive. Often on ERP implementations, old tools are taken away or are no longer valid; therefore, the adoption of the new processes is even more critical.

Perception: The baseline expectation for speed of adoption for new processes is usually based on assumptions. A major assumption is that adoption takes place based on the implementation and roll out plan. When the system goes live, the new processes will be adopted.

Reality: What actually happens is that adoption takes place depending on how quickly people get on board with the new process. In the meantime individuals may exhibit passive or active resistance, looking for ways to get around new processes or trying to hold on to old ones. Effective communication, sponsorship, and coaching can reduce avenues of resistance, help to get people on board, and increase the speed of adoption.

2. Ultimate Utilization
It is important to bring as many individuals along the change journey as possible. In addition to adopting new processes quickly, there is value in doing so fully, meaning full participation in the new process by everyone, all of the time. If everyone is not participating, then organizations can suffer from inconsistent service or quality. Errors can also increase as interrelated processes are expecting things to be done a certain way but they are done another.

Perception: The baseline expectation for utilization is often assumed to be 100%. Some organizations will go further and do scenario analyses to determine who is likely to participate and who is likely to not participate. They will then try to determine how to mitigate that risk. Participation is expected because people are expected to complete the requirements of their job.

Reality: What actually happens is that many people will “opt out” of the new way. This may be due to a breakdown in any phase of the ADKAR model. They may not be “aware” of the change or they may not have a “desire” to change. The may not have the “knowledge” to understand the change or the “ability” to perform in the new way of doing things due to incomplete training. Or finally, they may suffer from lack of “reinforcement” in any of the previous phases. Reinforcement and resistance management can play an important role in making sure that individuals stay on the path through the ADKAR model until the organization achieves ultimate utilization.  

3. Proficiency
As employees become better at their jobs and the new business processes, the organization will begin to gain efficiency in the achievement of business value objectives. But proficiency in new processes does not happen automatically.

Perception: The baseline expectation is that ongoing improvement from the solution occurs over time and that people will just continue to get better at their jobs. New processes, new technology, new behaviors, and new organizational structures are assumed to be catalysts for individuals to continue to increase their proficiency. 

Reality: What actually happens is determined by the competency level of each individual who is doing their job in a new way. Proficiency can also be reduce as a result of resistance to change. So it is important to continue change management efforts after an implementation to help each individual increase their proficiency for the overall benefit of and value to the organization.

Are you providing leadership through Organizational Change Management on your ERP projects? Do you need help managing change in your organization? Reach out to Navigator, we can help.