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Author  John Edmonds – PPM Portfolio Development Manager, PeopleCert

August 3, 2023 |

 8 min read

  • Blog
  • Change management
  • MSP

An essential part of best practice programme management, as expressed in Managing Successful Programmes (MSP), is to ensure that the outputs created and delivered by the programme’s projects are adopted into the day-to-day business operations of the investing organizations.

In practice, this can bring several challenges and it does not follow automatically that organizations will successfully adopt and embed these outcomes, which can then result in not realizing the expected benefits. These challenges can include:

  • The lack of a sustained focus on outcomes and benefits
  • Unrealistic expectations about the capacity and ability to change
  • Failure to engage and influence stakeholders
  • Difficulties in keeping effort focused at the right level of detail

The role of the business change manager (BCM) in MSP is designed to address these, and many other, challenges.

What does a business change manager do?

The main responsibilities of a BCM include:

  • Responsibility for adopting new capabilities.
  • Supporting the business areas to enable the realization of outcomes of benefit.
  • Establishing the approach and guidance for organizational change management.

While the programme manager is leading the work to deliver new capabilities, the BCM is preparing the business for change and planning the transition once those capabilities are delivered. The BCM will, therefore, know when the business operational areas are ready and prepared for the changes.

Creating ownership of change in the organization

While it is true that the programme manager and BCM should work together to coordinate activity, there is a vital point about the need for a BCM.

Far too many programme teams adopt a mindset (albeit unwittingly) that they are delivering new capabilities, and therefore change, to the investing organizations. A better and best practice-focused mindset is to think of the programme as a collaboration. In this way, those involved see the initiative as co-creating outcomes, benefits, and eventually value for the investing organizations.

Without an appropriate BCM (and perhaps a supporting team of change champions), organizations risk falling into the first mindset of doing change to the organization. A BCM encourages ownership of change by the organization, thereby increasing the chances of successfully achieving the desired outcomes of benefits.

Who should carry out the role of BCM?

The BCM could be an operational manager or a change professional. In either case, they may be supported by a network of change champions and/or by stakeholder and communications specialists in the programme office.

In situations that need several change specialists or operational managers (for example on larger programmes or across several organizational boundaries) a single BCM should coordinate the work of these specialists, and report to the senior responsible owner (SRO).

This ‘single point of contact’ ensures that the BCM role is strongly represented and treated equally to the programme manager, who also reports directly to the SRO.

The BCM – a critical role in best practice programme management

A focus on readiness for business change is vital in programme management. The 5th edition of MSP stresses the importance of the BCM’s role in doing this and taking responsibility (jointly with the programme manager) for other activities in the programme such as:

  • Identifying and validating benefits
  • Developing the target operating model
  • Identifying and prioritizing risks
  • Capturing ‘business-side’ learning
  • Benefits realization and measurement

Overall, the role of the BCM is one that is critical to the success of any programme.