Organizational change management is one of the most overlooked areas of large IT or ERP implementations. Several published studies cite this oversight as one of the most common causes of IT project failures.
So what does a large IT or business improvement project need to do from an organizational change perspective? Many of the more successful projects will focus on spending more on training, while others may focus more on communicating business changes through a formal communications plan.
A better way to think of organizational change management is as a comprehensive benefits realization program. Instead of thinking of change management in the traditional sense, such as focusing on formalizing communications, training, or organizational design, an alternate approach is to think of it as one of several mechanisms that can be used to drive tangible business value and optimize the potential benefits of the IT or business change you are implementing.
This shift away from using organizational change as a means to an end accomplishes several things. First, and probably most importantly, it focuses your project and business resources on activities that will improve the business from a quantifiable Return on Investment (ROI) perspective. For example, a large consumer products company implementing SAP determined that it was going to achieve most of its tangible business value from three major areas in the business: Finance, Global Purchasing, and IT. So rather than reorganize the entire company's job and work roles as a result of the SAP project, it focused on those three areas where it had identified 80% of the ROI in its business case.
In addition to the tighter focus on ROI, a comprehensive benefits realization approach also focuses on activities that will drive true business value, regardless of whether or not those activities are related to change management. For example, it allows you to discover business processes that are inefficient by measuring process results. By measuring processes against benchmarks and identifying areas with the most room for improvement, a benefits realization approach allows managers to continuously improve results after the IT or business implementation. It focuses attention on measurable continuous improvement rather than conducting change management just for the sake of it.
In other words, it is helpful to treat organizational change as one of many possible enablers of business change rather than a final solution. Focusing on ROI and business value allows you to implement organizational change activities that add tangible value and minimize time and money spent on those that do not.