Organizational change management and project success: Part 1

  • By Karen Ferris – Director, Macanta Consulting
  • 07 April 2017
  • Change management, IT Service Management (ITSM), ITIL Practitioner, Project sponsor, Stakeholder engagement, Strategy execution
Organizational change management and project success: Part 1

In this two-part blog series, ITSM and organizational change expert, Karen Ferris explains the importance of organizational change management and reviews the knowledge and tools available in ITIL Practitioner to support change professionals with OCM.

Karen FerrisOrganizational change management (OCM) approaches are gaining ever-more traction as the high cost of failing to embed successful change becomes patently clear.

It’s estimated that 70% of projects fail owing to a lack of OCM: though projects may install change, it’s OCM that implements the change and makes it stick.

Yet OCM has been paid lip service until now, with senior executives reluctant to buy in to the concept. Without question, effective OCM needs trained people with the right skills, knowledge and capability to understand the nature of change.

However, there are excellent training and learning materials out there: the OCM component in ITIL® Practitioner is presented in the language of IT and IT Service Management (ITSM) initiatives, but the principles and tools can be used for any type of change initiative.

Among the various OCM models mentioned in ITIL Practitioner, the PROSCI model provides three phases: Preparing for change, managing the change and reinforcing the change.

Preparing for Change:

When preparing for change, the first step is to the define the change management strategy. The organizational assessment toolkit in ITIL Practitioner will help you to assess your own organization and deliver a score in areas including:

  • How do you approach stakeholders?
  • What are the training needs?
  • What are the characteristics of the change?
  • How complex is the change?
  • What is the organization’s ability or resistance to change?
  • How much change is taking place already?
  • What’s the reach of the project/initiative – departmental or organization-wide?
  • How many employees will be affected?
  • How many groups are affected and what are the different effects?
  • How does it affect processes, technology and roles?
  • Have past projects included communication about the reason for change?
  • Are change sponsors respected for their successful track record and can they be leveraged?

If your assessment returns a low score, your initiative will need less OCM whereas a high score will warrant a high level of OCM in terms of people and support.

The toolkit in ITIL Practitioner, though focused on IT service management improvement, can be adopted for any type of change initiative. So, references to how an “improvement” might bring about a change in processes can be replaced by “project” and the combined scoring will feed into your change management strategy. This will be based on organizational resources, sponsorship and stakeholder management.

OCM: the team

Another vital element in the Preparing for change phase is preparing your team: the overall strategy dictates the size of the team and the amount of OCM experience needed. People may need training, coaching and mentoring depending on existing expertise and the time available. And you will need to produce a RACI model which defines who is:

  • Responsible
  • Accountable
  • Consulted
  • Informed.

A matrix will show what needs to happen and highlights different roles, such as the OCM lead, OCM practitioner and executive sponsor.

However, the people occupying these roles will depend on previous buy-in to OCM, training levels, etc. People might have the training and support but OCM is a complicated process in people terms; having the ability to handle change and apply effective tactics. So, it’s important to prepare the team with the knowledge they’ll need.

OCM: Stakeholder Analysis

Preparing for change also requires stakeholder analysis. That involves:

  • Identifying stakeholders, internal and external
  • Working out how much interest/involvement, power and influence they have in regards to the change initiative
  • Assessing how much it affects them.

The stakeholder analysis worksheet in ITIL Practitioner allows you to list stakeholders, their interest and involvement, and what power and influence they have on the change initiative. What do they want from the change – is it simply to know it’s happening, or more than that?

Your analysis will inform your stakeholder map: a grid that shows the relative levels of power/influence and interest/involvement captured in four categories – major, minor, significant and critical.

For example, those with high interest/high influence are critical stakeholders while low interest/low influence are deemed minor stakeholders.

This enables you to prioritize your efforts and focus. For example, critical stakeholders need regular engagement and communication to meet their expectations while minor stakeholders need little more than awareness.

The stakeholder communication plan template toolkit in ITIL Practitioner will help you outline how to communicate with the different stakeholders.

OCM: sponsors

In the final part of Preparing for change, you need people to sponsor the initiative. Research shows that the number one reason for change failure is lack of visible sponsorship; this requires a person actively involved and talking about the change, ensuring people understand it and conveying positive messages about change while getting people’s feedback.

Within ITIL Practitioner, the sponsor diagram toolkit takes you through creating a sponsor diagram. This helps to:

  • Identify an authorizing sponsor who will make it happen
  • Identify all the impacted groups/departments
  • Identify who is in charge of that area (from the employee perspective) and who is vital for change to succeed.

Finally, it’s necessary to map the key business leaders required to sponsor the change in the space in between the people “in charge” of the impacted groups and the authorising sponsor. These people will be the vital to reinforce the change.

In part 2 of the series, Karen will consider the OCM techniques and the available ITIL Practitioner tools for managing change and reinforcing change.

Read the second part of this series, Organizational change management and project success: Part 2.

Why not register for the supporting webinar, ‘How Organizational Change Management will stop your projects failing’ presented by Karen Ferris on the 20 April, 9.00am BST.

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'How Organizational Change Management will stop your projects failing’ webinar

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20 April, 9.00am BST

Karen Ferris, co-author of the ITIL Practitioner Guidance, explains the importance of organizational change management and reviews the knowledge and tools available in ITIL Practitioner to support change professionals with OCM.

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