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5 mins

Demand for change management has escalated at the confluence of the COVID-19 pandemic, and rapid organisational, cultural, and digital change, with companies considering it necessary for the success of projects and major change initiatives. Managed change initiatives cost less, cause less friction and are quicker to complete, while delivering better results.

The Tipping-Point In Business Projects’ Success

Research shows change management to be a top priority for organisations in 2022, second to building critical skills and competencies*.

The typical organisation has undertaken five major enterprise-wide changes in the past three years and almost 75% expect to multiply the types of major change initiatives they will undertake in the next three years*.

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Yet, when these changes are implemented in an autocratic manner and the impact on the people needing to adapt to the new way of working is not considered, half of the change initiatives fail, and only 34% are a clear success**.

Isabel Adams, People Enablement Director, at AVeS Cyber International, answers the million-dollar question: “Can we prove that Change Management has a beneficial effect?”

“With effective change management, companies can increase the probability of success of even the trickiest change projects.”

Digital Transformation Projects Need Change Management

According to her, the company has seen a significant increase in organisations commissioning its Fast Track for Change services in the past 16 months. The team has worked with clients across diverse industries to empower their people to adopt strategic change projects ranging from full digital transformation initiatives and leadership changes to the implementation of new technologies and processes.

“Change management has become one of the most critical success factors for any business in a world where change has become the only constant.”

Companies are increasingly realising the value of well-executed change management strategies for achieving project success, especially when fast-tracking projects to enable remote and hybrid working models.

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“Results and outcomes from any digital transformation initiative, organisation change, or process improvement projects are inextricably tied to individual employees doing their jobs differently, and may require changes to their familiar behaviours, processes, practices, and/or reporting lines. So, when you apply change management to these initiatives, you are ultimately enabling your employees to adopt to these changes more effectively.

Implications Of Unmanaged Change

“However, new technology, new people, new procedures, and new systems can all create uncertainty, and when left un-managed, this uncertainty, creates fear amongst employees, and results in significant organisational resistance to change, as people – when faced with uncertainty – naturally hold onto what they know..”

Change resistance has implications for project costs, risks, timelines, and ultimately ROI.

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Productivity declines can influence profitability, and there are the costs associated with re-scoping a project, redoing parts of it, delaying it, redesigning workflows and processes, retraining people, and downtime. Moreover, the symptoms of change resistance, from lack of participation, disengagement, negative criticism, and waning productivity to absenteeism, have a detrimental effect on workplace happiness, morale, and culture.

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” she says, “Companies that apply the same discipline to managing the people elements of change as they do managing budgets, timelines, and technical objectives have better project outcomes. Change initiatives can be successful when the people element of change is managed.”

How To Get Change Management Right

Change resistance has implications for project costs, risks, timelines, and ultimately ROI.

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To ensure successful change implementation it is imperative that you match what your company needs with what the people in your company can potentially accomplish. Change can be strategised in the executive team boardroom – but unless someone or a team of people cascade that change strategy out to the organisation and its divisions, it will make no difference to its people. And if it makes no difference to them, then it makes no difference to the organisation or its balance sheet.

Prosci, an independent research company in the field of change management, gathered data over eight years and found that initiatives with excellent change management are six times more likely to meet objectives and deliver ROI than those with poor change management. Effective organisational change management also builds trust and strengthens company cultures. Companies that employ change management know that it’s simply the right way to support people during times of change.

All change happens at the individual level. To manage change effectively, we need to understand how individual people experience change and what support they need, so they can transition successfully.

Two things that all effective change management strategies have in common are planning and excellent communication.

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“A proper internal communications plan that effectively communicates the drivers for the change and its intended benefits is crucial for garnering employee buy-in. Not all employees are impacted by the change in the same way, and it’s important for everyone to understand why change is happening, WIIFM (What’s in it for me), i.e. how it will affect daily operations, and how they do their work differently, and how the change benefits the organisation.

Ask The Right Questions

When you consider that the realisation of a change and the achievement of specific outcomes are tied to people, we can ask the right questions:

  • How many total employees will engage in the change versus how many will opt out or find work-arounds (referred to as the ultimate utilisation of the change)?
  • How quickly will our employees get on-board with the change (the speed of adoption)?
  • How effectively will the change be implemented at an individual level (proficiency)?

Since change is ultimately an individual phenomenon, it is these individual factors that drive or inhibit the value a change creates.

Without the engagement of each employee who must do his or her job differently as a result of the change, we lack tangible benefits from change.

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Where To Start

Adams advises that completing a comprehensive readiness assessment and risk analysis to determine the appetite for change, before implementing any change that could impact the people in a business. Analysing the outputs from such assessments guides the development of a customised and scaled strategy with the necessary sponsorship, team structure, appropriate communication, and proactive resistance management to improve the probability of project success.

AVeS Cyber International’s Fast Track for Change focuses on supporting people impacted by changes in an organisation by integrating the ADKAR®*** model into the change methodology. ADKAR® is the acronym representing five tangible building blocks that people need to develop sustainable change: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement. The company’s Prosci-certified change practitioners follow an evidence-based approach to fast-track change initiatives seamlessly through the planning, execution, and monitoring phases.

Client Testimonial

Wendy Maritz, Manager: IS&T at Palabora Mining Company, says:

“The Palabora experience of the AVeS Change Management Programme has been an awesome journey. At first, the Palabora team was sceptics about the process, and reluctantly completed all the assessments that feed the models. But, a year later the Palabora team have seen the value of people enablement.

Identifying stakeholders, identifying their needs, and having a plan to communicate with them with clear expectations has proven to be just as important and valuable as the work done in the technical workstream.

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“Then, ensuring that the Policies and Procedures are aligned is the third workstream. The winning recipe for a successful IT project is Technical plus Governance plus People. We cannot imagine running an IT project without Change Management ever again.”

Conclusion

Adams concludes: “While increasing the probability of project success, our clients have realised people-dependent return on their investment in change initiatives, proactively managed change resistance and built a competency of change into their organisations for sustained change to new ways of working

Identifying stakeholders, identifying their needs, and having a plan to communicate with them with clear expectations has proven to be just as important and valuable as the work done in the technical workstream.

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Empower people to adopt strategic business projects

Fast-track your projects’ ROI by focusing on the core elements that drive its long-term success: speed of adoption, ultimate utilisation, and proficiency.

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