Here are two common expressions to ponder:
“The only thing constant is change”
“The more things change, the more they stay the same”
These expressions are common used yet they contradict each other. Which is it? Does change happen all of the time or does nothing change?
The reason for the existence of both of these expressions: “Things change … people don’t”. We can implement new processes and technologies but human behavior is very difficult to change. Some people are early adopters, some will never accept change, and most will accept it over time as long as there is a benefit and pressure to change.
The ability to change technology has reduced the time and effort required to change business processes. Sometimes, technology changes drive changes to business processes and other times the business process change drives technology changes.
The problem: Business process changes affect people. People are naturally resistant to changes. Change Management must address the impacts to the people in the organizations. What new processes must they follow? How will they learn them? What new system features must they learn? What is the level of expected resistance? How do we address the issues related to Change Management in order to improve our success rate in implementing change as a result of IT projects?
Someone has to own Change Management. IT commonly limits their scope of change management to the implementation of technological changes. They do not commonly take ownership of the organizational impacts. The business assumes that IT owns this responsibility since IT is managing the project. Result: Ownership of Change Management is ambiguous in many organizations.
Organizations need a person with “Change Management” experience who can anticipate organizational and business process issues resulting from change, develop a plan to address them, ensure the plan is executed, and resolve any issues.
This is not a common skill. The typical project manager has a technical personality and doesn’t understand the disruptive impact of change (business process, technology, applications, organizations, etc.). It is naive to think that most PM’s can address this topic. Organizations do not get the expected outcomes and benefits from their technology investments because they do not address the impacts of changes on people.
Successful organizations define a Change Manager position with the responsibility to assess the proposed changes and ensure the people and organizations are able to adapt to the changes.