The Value of Change Management

Posted by Paula Alsher on Thu, Jun 21, 2018 @ 01:10 PM

The business value in using a disciplined project management protocol, such as Agile or Waterfall, is undeniable. Project management ensures projects are completed on time, on budget and to scope. And with the amount of investments being made on large, complex organizational change at an all-time high, these metrics are critical. But, what about using a change management process? Is there a value there as well? The Value of Change Management

Unfortunately, there is still a false notion that change management is simply a commodity. People tend to nod and smile while they think change management:


  • Is a “nice to have” but not really a necessity
  • Can be done quickly and easily towards the end of a project and then be checked off the to do list
  • Is just another process that will slow a project down

These perceptions simply are not true. While the project management metrics of being on time, on budget and to scope are important, they are not enough. The truth of the matter is there is no change unless people change their behavior. And until you get to sustained behavior change, you will not get Return on Investment. So, if change management is defined as the rigor and discipline on the people side of a change, then without it, benefit realization is at risk.

The 5 Metrics of Project Success

To get to a deeper understanding of the value of change management, you need to recognize the difference between installation and implementation. Installation of a change meets 3 measures:

  • It’s on time
  • It’s on budget
  • It meets the technical objectives

Sound familiar? These are the measures of success being managed by project management. It’s easy to understand why getting to installation promotes a sense of accomplishment. You have gotten to “go live” or cutover and, thus, some results have been accomplished. But if you measure a project’s success by installation, you are not yet getting to sustained behavior change and therefore, true Return on Investment. It’s just change at the surface level.

In order to have a successful implementation there are 2 additional factors that must be met:

  • The business objectives
  • The human objectives

The human objectives of a change are what people will be doing differently as a result of the change in the future state. Think of it like this, if you walked into the organization sometime in the future, what would people be doing differently than they are doing today?

For most organizations, there is far greater financial investment in the achievement of an initiative’s business and technical objectives compared to the investment in the human objectives. But, the fact is, all 5 measures must be achieved in order to achieve Return on Investment.

Managing the Human Objectives

To increase the likelihood of success, organizations need to change from an installation mentality to an implementation mindset in which they are managing the human objectives of a change. In order to do this, a practical, high-impact change management framework (like AIM) is needed. Don Harrison the developer of the AIM Change Management Methodology, puts it like this, “The ability to successfully achieve your business objectives at speed, is contingent on the meeting of the human objectives.”

But remember, the ultimate goal of change management should not be “to do” a complete process. Rather, your change management methodology should guide you on what to do based on the day to day realities of your project. Here are several principles from the AIM Change Management Methodology that will help mitigate the risks on the people side of your change.

  • Define the Change in Terms of Human Behavior – If the end goal is to get to adoption and sustained behavior change, then the starting point needs to be a clear and compelling change definition that includes identification of the human behavioral changes in the future state.
  • Sustained, Active Sponsorship Needs to be Secured - When you have Sponsors at each level of the organization who are expressing, modeling and reinforcing their commitment to the business change, you will get acceleration.
  • Reinforcements Need to be Changed - Reinforcement is the power lever to motivate behavioral changes. If you don’t change the Reinforcement, you won’t get the change. Period.
  • Communications Need to be in the Frame of Reference of the Targets - Communication efforts should be centered around delivering the right message to the right audience and should always include a feedback loop.
  • Develop Target Readiness - If you spend some of your resource energy early in the project life cycle on building Readiness (and this requires more than top-down communications through email, a website, or social media) you’ll spend less time and need fewer resources dealing with resistance later.

Change Management is not a commodity that can be purchased and completed. It is not checklists, slide decks or simply a communication plan. And it is definitely not something you can check off of your to do list. Change management is project management for the human side of a project. By integrating change management into your project management protocol, the people side of a project will be managed with the same rigor and discipline as the technical side resulting in full implementation and value realization…at speed. Valuable? We think so.

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Topics: Change Management Methodology, Installation vs. Implementation, Accelerating Implementation Methodology (AIM), Value Realization/ROI, Project Management