What is Enterprise Change Management?
Written by Tim Creasey
Many organizations are applying change management to specific projects and initiatives. The most innovative organizations, however, are looking beyond project-by-project application and asking: how can we develop an enterprise-wide change management capability? Since 2005, Prosci has undertaken research and development to address this question. The result is Prosci’s research, tools and offerings for Enterprise Change Management (ECM).
First, let’s get clear on what ECM means:
Enterprise Change Management is the systematic deployment of change management skills, tools and processes throughout an organization.
The goals of ECM are to:
- Improve the utilization of human capital
- Ensure all projects deliver people-dependent ROI
- Mitigate change saturation and its detrimental effects
- Instill organizational agility and the ability to respond to increasing amounts of change
- Create competitive advantage
Ultimately, ECM comprises three main components:
- A common set of processes and tools for managing change
- A leadership competency at all levels of the organization, from supervisors to senior executives
- A strategic capability that enables the organization to be agile, change ready and responsive to marketplace changes
ECM is not one-dimensional. It is not just offering a training program on managing change, nor is it just hardwiring readiness assessments into your standard project methodology. It is not just a culture that embraces change.
Enterprise Change Management requires a holistic perspective of what it really takes to change the way your organization anticipates, implements and succeeds with change.
1. Common processes and tools
Many processes exist for managing the people side of change. While your organization can be successful using any one of them, it's beneficial for the entire organization use a common approach. Regardless of the approach, an effective Enterprise Change Management process should:
- Initiate when a new project or change is introduced, and not well into the project lifecycle or during the implementation phase
- Integrate with project management activities and present as a unified front for deploying change, rather than being an add-on
- Allow you to create a common language for change, so that people in roles across your organization share an understanding and vernacular when discussing changes
2. Leadership competency
Change management skills are evident in all parts of the organization. While individuals can often apply change management (as a tool to make a project more successful), ECM requires change management competencies to permeate all levels of the organization. Although organizations differ, the following groups generally need to understand what change management is, know why it's important, and be able to develop their own competencies to effectively engage in change:
- Senior leaders
- Project leaders and team members
- HR, training and organizational development professionals
- Managers and supervisors
- Front-line employees
When an organization builds change capability, the individuals in that organization consider “effectively managing change” to be one of their job responsibilities. They understand their unique role and fulfill it when changes happen.
3. Strategic capability
Treating ECM as a strategic capability allows you to create a competitive advantage for the organization. Change management is a critical component of organizational agility. As organizations tackle more and greater change today than ever before, the ability to react quickly and efficiently is critical for success.
What This Means for You
With the structural elements (processes and tools) and human capital (skills and competencies) in place, organizations can truly set themselves apart. Organizations that build change capability have a higher capacity for change and can implement changes more quickly than their competitors. Building ECM, however, requires intention and focus.