Many projects and programs deliver good-quality products on time and within budget, but this in itself does not constitute success. Many initiatives fail because the products they produce are not taken up and used by the people they are designed to benefit. In order to make real, lasting improvements, changes need to be embraced by the people they affect, and embedded into new ways of working - there is a direct correlation between an organisation’s ability to manage the people side of change effectively and the ultimate success of projects in achieving their intended outcomes.
Programs and projects are concerned with planning and implementing changes which affect individuals and organisations. Change management focuses on the human side of change, and helps to make change stick by providing processes and tools to plan for change, understand its impacts, unlock resistance and engage effectively with stakeholders. Planning for change and understanding the impacts it will have on people, processes and technology, is crucial for any change to be effective: What processes will be different? How will individuals be affected? Who will be the winners and losers? If we understand the stakeholders involved and how they may be impacted by change, we can put in place effective strategies to help them adapt.
QVC recently undertook a change management maturity audit for a client, looking at different aspects of capability to identify areas of relative strength and areas which would benefit from improvement. This has helped the organisation to focus on building its change management capability where it’s most needed, and will give their projects and programs a greater chance of success.
When is Change Management needed?
Change management activities need to be carried out throughout the life of a project, but the types of activities will change depending on where in the project lifecycle you are.
At the start of a project:
Activities focus on identifying the stakeholders who will be affected by the change, and understanding the type and level of impact on different stakeholders. Identifying the people who support or oppose the change, and planning the best way to engage with different types of stakeholder, is important to get right at the start.
Through the life of a project:
Activities focus on actively engaging with stakeholders to make sure that they are aware of what the change will bring and to help them through the, often difficult, period of transition. One area which is often overlooked is the collection of performance measurements: projects are designed to deliver improvements, so it’s important that baseline measurements are taken before transition to new ways of working, so that the actual improvements delivered by the project can be identified. Communications, training, coaching and resistance management are all important aspects of change management throughout a project.
At the end of a project (and beyond):
Once people have transitioned from old ways of working to new, it’s important to make sure that changes are embedded into everyday working practices and become the ‘new normal’. Performance improvements also need to be measured so that the benefits of the project can be realised.
How can QVC help?
QVC helps organisations integrate project and change management to improve the success rates of initiatives. Our structured approach to change management closely links change activities with project and program management lifecycles to ensure that the right activities are undertaken at the right time, by and with the right people.