Why It’s Time to Get Serious about Organizational Change Management


Technology is changing the way we work in both big and small ways. For most enterprises today, change is not the rare occurrence; it’s a constant. Whether you’re adopting a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, leveraging robotics on the manufacturing floor or implementing smaller, niche software in the back office, companies are continually integrating new technology into the business.

Organizational change management (OCM) paves the way for rapid and consistent change. By focusing on the “people side of change,” OCM makes sure employees are prepared for what’s to come and engaged in the project lifecycle. Companies that expect employees to work their day jobs and figure out new systems on their own end up with frustrating rollouts and disappointing return on investment.

Here are four goals an enterprise can accomplish with OCM:

  1. Optimize return on technology investments. Skipping OCM during a transformation almost always means the company will lose money and productivity. Without OCM, employees typically don’t get the training, communications and support needed to prepare for a major change. Therefore, companies that don’t use OCM programs to facilitate technology deployment usually take two to five months longer to return to pre-launch productivity levels. Say an enterprise acquires a new ERP system that will impact 500 people earning an average annual salary of $50,000 each. If these employees are not properly prepared for the change and have about a 30-percent drop in productivity over the first three months on the new system, that’s a loss of about $1.875 million. Add to that any associated interruption to shipping, production, procurement, inventory and logistics, and your number gets even higher. However, companies that include OCM can significantly reduce the amount of productivity losses – in this case, to maybe one month and $625,000. Even after you factor in the cost of OCM services, you could still save $1 million.
  2. Enhance communication for everyone’s sake. For a company to quickly adapt to change, it needs to communicate and teach with state-of-the-art methods. This does not require big teams or large chunks of time spent on manual tasks. It does require a learning management system (LMS) to make knowledge easier to access across the enterprise. Modern communications tools like internal social applications, intranets and creative multimedia formats, such as video, connect with employees in the ways they prefer in their everyday lives. We know humans are adaptable; engage with them like you would your customers. Also, use managers and supervisors to effectively deliver the change communications since they are the ones who directly manage individual employees’ career paths. Identify the best ways to communicate for your company, execute, measure effectiveness so you know what works, and repeat the cycle.
  3. Achieve better automation for training. If you’re still creating work instructions or test scripts manually using Microsoft Word, you’re already behind in the game of operational efficiency. Many tools can help automate training. For example, an enterprise-level training material-creation tool called Ancile uPerform allows you to record transactions on any application and publish to more than 10 different types of outputs, such as Web simulations, job aids and test scripts. This could cut your time building training guides, standard operating procedures and test scripts to about a tenth. The tools also offer “context-sensitive help” that can reduce help desk calls by more than half. When a user is working and clicks “help,” the training guide is automatically pulled up, starting on the exact screen the user is on and walking him or her through the rest of the transaction. The tools also allow a training lead or administrator to delegate recording tasks to anyone in your organization. Leveraging subject-matter experts or “super users,” you can create hundreds of transactions a day, rather than relying on one developer.
  4. Get employees comfortable with frequent change. Seriously consider dedicating an individual or a small team of people in your company to full-time work coordinating OCM activities for all transformations. This could take the form of an OCM Center of Excellence (CoE) or a Change Management Office (CMO). A CMO is typically part of the Project Management Office and uses a proven OCM methodology that facilitates transformation, so that it fits your company’s unique culture. After the CMO handles a few implementations, employees grow more comfortable with big change projects. The CMO also helps the company identify stakeholder groups that may have change fatigue from too many projects, so the business is able to stay in front of costly people-related issues. External experts in OCM can help enterprises establish a strong CoE or CMO.

An enterprise’s ability to adapt to change is literally its ability to stay ahead of the curve … or get left behind as competitors pull forward. Without OCM, an enterprise undergoing change can spin its wheels for months or more before employees reach the level of productivity they had before. ISG helps design and implement repeatable strategies for managing change that create productive, innovative and responsive work environments. Contact me to discuss how we can help you.

About the author
Chase is a business development executive with deep experience in training, business transformation, and organizational change management across 50-plus projects. In this timeframe, he has specialized in organizational change management (OCM) and end user training (EUT) strategy and execution, with success in both sales and delivery. He currently runs ISG’s global OCM Infor partnership.