How important is Change Management?

The only constant is change, continuing change, inevitable change that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.
— Isaac Asimov

And this is true in the context of business or project management as well. Change happens continually; and how well a business can manage these changes plays a significant role in its success or failure. With globalization and advancement of technology, change management has become more important than ever before. Here we are going to take a look at why having an efficient change management strategy and process is so important for the success of any project or business.

Why Change Management is Important?

When working on a project, a business may need to tackle a planned or an unplanned change. Whatever type of change a business faces, it is important to deal with it efficiently. Let’s take a look at some reasons why change management is important.

  • Increasing success rates – McKinsey & Company conducted a survey on more than 40 projects to recognize the effectiveness of change management strategy. According to the survey results, projects that applied change management strategy were completed with double efficiency as compared to the projects that did not apply a change management process. So, with application of change management strategy, a business can improve the success rates of its projects significantly.
    Change management not only helps the effective delivery of the project but it also ensures it’s success long after the project team has been dispersed.  It makes sure that the changes stick.
  • Business response time – Lack of speed when dealing with a change may cause a business to miss out on an opportunity. For example, if a company that deals with national clients suddenly gets a huge order from an international client, it may fail to grab the opportunity due to lack of speed in its manufacturing process and ability to adapt to change. With effective implementation of change management strategy and process, businesses can respond to needs whenever required.
    The same applies to the embedding of any change as a result of a project.  The faster a business can embed and adapt to the change resulting from the project, the faster they can either return to normal or improved levels of efficiency.
  • Handling competition – This point is strongly linked to the above, efficiency in change management also helps a business to compete with its business rivals. For example, if one of your competitor companies launches a new product with unique features, you may lose a lot of your loyal and potential customers. But if you have an effective change management process in place that allows you to effectively respond, you are likely to produce similar or better products quickly to pull your customers back to you.  Notice the use of the word effective, it has to be structured and considered, not purely a knee jerk reaction.
  • Increases confidence – An effective change management strategy on any project assists in keeping the confidence level of the business and customers high.  The worst thing that can happen during a change is that people start to get scared, feel uncertain and lose confidence in the business.
  • Reduces resistance to change – when a change management strategy is in place and was created using a structured and thorough process it will recognize potential resistance points and address those. Removing or reducing the resistance to the change ensures things run smoother.  Naturally humans like stability, so it is only natural that there be some resistance, but these can also be easily addressed with information.  The unknown makes people uncomfortable, make things known and the confidence increases and the resistance decreases.

A couple of characteristics of an effective change management strategy and process are:

  • It ensures that everyone understands what the change is trying to achieve
  • Everyone, and I mean everyone, feels adequately informed and involved
  • It is not left until the end but occurs right from day one
  • Communication is clear, consistent and regular
  • Regardless of the change that is occurring, the confidence levels generally remain high. What this means is that even when the outcome is not ideal for everyone, i.e. some people are losing their jobs, everyone feels supported and informed
  • It is recognized that one shoe does not fit all and the approach is modified as appropriate
  • Processes are in place to effectively respond to issues as they arise
  • Wants, needs and fears of all effected parties are known and considered

However, managing change is not easy; and organizations may face several obstacles when bringing a change about. Effective change management helps you identify barriers well in advance so that appropriate steps can be taken to remove them.

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Frank Evans liked this post

  1 comment for “How important is Change Management?

  1. Tom Byam-Cook
    May 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Your points are thorough and I agree that change management can increase the reliability that “changes stick”. However, how have you justified post project investment (both time and resources) to employers / clients in your experience?

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