Since the late 1990s, many organizations have embarked on major changes in their business practices, including their technology. These investments create unprecedented impacts on an organization’s culture, its structure, its processes and surely on its ways of doing business. At the same time, organizations are finding themselves in an increasingly competitive economic environment and dealing with legal boundaries that are more complex and stricter. With these realities, organizations face multiple priorities, the proliferation of priority projects, the depolarization of budgets and projects, which create important challenges that they are often not ready to take on.
Despite this growing phenomenon of major changes in North America, the practice of managing organizational change remains little present as a strategic practice within organizations. It is a discipline that, on the other hand, tends to grow rapidly in importance internationally, and is seen as one of the essential pathways to the success of the organizational change.
To this effect, more and more research is being conducted at the international level to identify the key success factors for change. Through surveys conducted annually with thousands of organizations since 1998, PROSCI has identified seven (7) major contributors to successful change deployments:
- Visible and active sponsor involvement
- A structured organizational change management approach,
- Dedicated resources and funded organizational change management
- Frequent and open communication about change and the need for change
- Employee engagement
- Integration of organizational change management with project management
- Commitment and support from top-level managers.
What are statistics telling us
Research in the field of change management tends to confirm that project management alone can not guarantee the success of projects. This practice requires the accompaniment of a practice in organizational change management. Recent research tends to confirm this trend since:
- 31% of projects are canceled before they are completed.
- 53% of projects are completed with costs exceeding expectations.
- Only 12% are considered a success.
- Up to 80% of projects experience partial or complete failure.
Project management is a practice that focuses first and foremost on three major delivery objectives: on time, on budget and according to available resources. Yet, research tends to indicate that it is not necessary in these elements that the objectives are not achieved. They identified three main causes of project failures, which are not related to these three broad objectives:
- Absence of leadership and sponsorship
- Absence of strategic decision-making
- Weak Project Management
In this respect, it has been shown that changes are seen more in terms of technology than of the human aspect. In the face of these major failures, project risk management has become an unavoidable project deliverable since it had to ensure that everything was put in place to avoid such situations. Nevertheless, research has identified that the majority of failure factors are human in nature. From this, the following factors were identified:
- Unexpected problems
- Lack of time
- Poor planning
- Costs greater than originally estimated
- Absence or lack of organizational change management
In conclusion, statistics have shown that the complexity of projects increases with the changing context of organizations and that projects require the management of the human nature of a project.
Why should an organization mandate an OCM specialist?
The field of organizational change management is quite complex, which makes the intervention of an organizational change management specialist hard to estimate. The required knowledge is specialized and its role is complex since, first and foremost, it caters to support a large number of people in change. Using a structured and dynamic approach, the specialist provides support to stakeholders at all levels of an organization: Executives, Managers, and employees that need to be empowered and tooled to embrace change.
To this effect, Organizational Change Management is a management practice that aims to:
- Reduce the impacts and duration of the transition period on the recipients.
- Manage the resistance and concerns of the recipients.
- Minimize unwanted side effects on stakeholders and, ultimately, on clients.
- Increase the likelihood of success when implementing projects in the organization.
- Improve the capacity and effectiveness of the organization to implement change projects.
- Accelerate the integration of change projects.
- Foster the creation of a culture of change.
The Organizational Change Management specialist can typically be assigned four (4) large deliverables that will enable him to carry out his mandate:
- Establish a governance of change management and ensure its management by an expert in the field.
- Complete a qualitative diagnosis using a recognized methodology.
- Roll out an integrated strategy and plans adapted to the context of the organization.
- Ensure leadership and the integration of Change Management activities with project management activities.
It goes without saying that mandating a Change Management Specialist brings significant benefits to the project and to organizations. It is the human aspects of the project that are winning because research has identified the following positive effects:
- Reduce organizational costs related to poor management of organizational change: increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, labor relations tensions, increased stress levels, unplanned departures, etc.
- Minimize impacts on employees and managers.
- Accelerate the project’s return on investment.