When mobilising large projects, most leaders readily understand the need for planning, project management and people to do tangible tasks like building and testing software or fitting out new offices.

However, change management activities – focused specifically on helping people through change – can be more intangible and are often missed or ignored. This can result in projects that don’t achieve the intended benefits and people unnecessarily disrupted by change.

It can be hard for project teams to make a case for investment in change management to those unaware of what this means.

Senior decision-makers don’t always understand what change management is, why it is essential, and how to apply it in practice. This can make them reluctant to commit to additional spend and thus can jeopardise the project.

Consider these tactics when making a case for investment in change management

Link investing in helping people through change with achieving the intended benefits.

Ask: How much does the success of this project rely on our people doing things differently? The more the project’s benefits depend on people behaving differently, the more change management will be needed, and the more significant investment will be required.

Explain what change management is.

Effective change management provides a framework for managing the people side of change. It involves activities which do not all sit on the critical path but are crucial to getting the best value out of any investment in a project.

For example:

  • Creating a compelling vision and case for change
  • Delivering a comprehensive communication plan
  • Engaging hearts and minds through involvement in design of the change and creating two-way feedback mechanisms
  • Encouraging positive leadership role modelling
  • Planning and delivering events and roadshows
  • Active management of stakeholders
  • Understanding the impact of change on affected functions, teams, and individuals
  • Creating change networks for people to be ambassadors for the change
  • Developing appropriate training for new skills
  • Testing people’s readiness to adopt the change before it is thrust upon them
  • Following up after the launch of the change with people-focused activities designed to optimise and embed the change and celebrate success

Use data to show the benefits of change management.

In their benchmark study of over 2,000 change initiatives, Prosci® identified that projects that used change management delivered significantly better results and were:

  • 6 x more likely to achieve desired project outcomes
  • 5 x more likely to stay on plan
  • 2 x more likely to be within budget
Benefits of change management

Conduct a change impact assessment early in the project.

This helps identify the things that will change for people – for example, systems, processes, working location, organisation structures, roles, or all of these.

There may be changes to the way performance is managed, KPIs or the data and management reporting people work with. An impact assessment will also help you identify the number of people who will be affected.

A simple rule of change management is that the more things that are changing and the more people involved, the greater the need for effective change management.

Communicate the risks of underinvestment in change management.

There will likely be previous projects in the organisation that have not gone as well as hoped due to insufficient focus on people. Use these as examples to help build the case for change management. Enlist help from others in making the case if you can.

Once you have successfully made your case, ensure that you measure the benefits of change management as you go through the project. This will improve your organisation’s understanding of change management and help you sell the concept more effectively next time.

Get in touch to discuss how we can help you make a case for change management.

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Helena Miles