Change management is a structured framework that guides the people side of change and drives positive outcomes. An enabling framework, it helps people adopt and use important changes in their daily work. And it equips organizations for success with guidance, training, tools and more.

Achieving Consistent Change Management Success

In a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world, companies constantly adopt critical changes to remain competitive.

The success of these change projects depends on the people who must adopt and use them. To gain desired outcomes, including return on investment, organizations must first understand how a change impacts those involved and then prepare them for the transition.

When you apply a structured change management approach, employees and other stakeholders work together to achieve a common goal of success. Our research shows that projects with excellent change management are up to 7X more likely to achieve change success.

Some may say that change is hard, but change done right is an opportunity for your organization to grow stronger and more successful. Prosci helps organizations of all kinds build change capability to achieve excellent outcomes while sticking to timelines and budgets.

3 ways to invest in change management

Organizations tend to invest in change management initiatives in three ways. Let’s take a deeper look at these approaches to understand their pros and cons:

The three primary ways in which organizations approach change management investment

  • Practitioner-Only Approach – In this method, organizations appoint internal change management teams or practitioners to engage with the key stakeholders and manage multiple individual change initiatives.

    These practitioners can drive short-term changes on their own, but it won't equip leaders and managers with the knowledge and skills they need to fulfill their roles during change. Also, each project is handled separately. This approach won't build change capability because experiences are confined to one project. There’s no opportunity to adopt a common language or build expectations for change across the enterprise.
  • Holistic Capability Building – With this method, companies focus on developing skills in key roles through training programs, technologies and tools, expert coaching, and external consultants.

    This approach requires a larger initial investment but achieves better project outcomes by building sustainable, long-term enterprise change capability.

  • Consultant-Only Approach – In this method, the company uses external consultants to lead change projects. These consultants handle project management and change management, but their primary expertise is often on the technical side of change. Some consultants may not have the required change management expertise to adequately manage the people side of change.

    This approach requires large investments throughout the project and can gain effective short-term outcomes. But, it doesn’t build internal change capability.

A comparison of these approaches shows that building overall change management capability is the best approach to achieve change success. By using this approach, the organization builds lasting change management skills in managers, sponsors, change practitioners and front-line employees—all of whom have essential roles to play during change.

What Is Change Management Success, and How Is It Measured?

To determine if your change management initiative is on track for success, you can compare its progress against the metrics set during the project initiation stage. Every change initiative starts by defining success, including aligning on goals (what it aims to achieve) and the organizational benefits (how it enhances the company).

The primary sponsor is responsible for clearly defining success. During the change process, it’s also critical to engage key stakeholders, including leaders, sponsors, subject matter experts, and project managers, to align on a shared definition of success.

Once there’s a shared definition, you can set measurable metrics to track progress. Examples of metrics include the time it takes users to learn and apply new skills (speed of adoption), the number of people using the change (ultimate utilization) and how well people are applying the change in their work (proficiency).

Change is a chance to capitalize on opportunity. Success is the flag on the horizon, what you’re setting out to achieve. As conditions continue to change, so may your organization’s definition of success—and you will need to bridge the gap. Building change competency in your people is key to staying ready to respond to or seize opportunities.
Tim Creasey
Chief Innovation Officer
Our research on defining success reveals that when organizations define success for a change well, and measure performance to objectives, their odds of meeting or exceeding those objectives can increase by up to 5X.
Scott Anderson
Sr. Principal, Global Research and Analytics Development

Subscribe to our bi-weekly blog to receive articles that help you, your team and your organization grow stronger from change.

Privacy Policy

You may unsubscribe at any time. Please review our privacy policy for more information on how we store and process the information you provide.

Because organizational outcomes are the collective result of individual change, you can measure results across three interdependent levels. These are:

3 Levels of Performance Metrics for Change Management Projects

The three categories of metrics used to measure change management performance

1. Change Management Performance:
When change management is done effectively, people are well prepared to adopt and use the change.

These metrics track the implementation of the change management strategy, core roles activation, and progress on change management plans.

2. Individual Performance: When enough people adopt and use a change, it provides organizational benefits.

Tracking performance involves assessing individual and group progress through the five elements of the ADKAR® Model: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement.

Once individuals reach the Ability stage of the model, we can measure outcomes by focusing on speed of adoption, ultimate utilization, and proficiency.

3. Organizational Performance: This is about evaluating whether the change project met or exceeded its goals. The project manager sets Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure against and then tracks them.

Change management practitioners and teams use the Prosci Change Triangle (PCT) Model to understand the four critical aspects of successful change: Success, Leadership/Sponsorship, Project Management and Change Management. This model also measures project health at critical milestones during a project’s lifecycle.

These levels collectively make up a holistic framework to measure overall performance.

What drives change management success

Over decades of work in the field, Prosci has uncovered the key factors to change management success.

Top contributors to change management succes

1. Mobilize active and visible sponsorship

Active and visible sponsors champion change by leading and motivating others in the organization. Since 1998, having a good leader who visibly champions the change and demonstrates desired behaviors has been a top contributor to change management success.

Effective sponsors:

  • Actively and visibly participate throughout the project
  • Build a coalition of sponsorship
  • Communicate support and promote the change to impacted groups

Our research shows that projects with extremely effective sponsors are 79% likely to meet their objectives compared to just 27% with extremely ineffective sponsors. This indicates a major impact on the likelihood of success.

2. Apply a structured change management methodology

A well-structured and detailed approach to change management, like the Prosci Methodology, can ensure projects stick to established timelines. It also helps to build support and commitment for change, allocate time and resources for crucial activities, and clearly define roles.

By integrating the people side and technical side of the change, you make processes repeatable and allow space to address gaps during the project lifestyle.

According to Prosci's research, 59% of participants who used a structured methodology achieved good or excellent levels of change management effectiveness.

Impact of Use of a Methodology on Overall Change Management Effectiveness

Using a structured change methodology helps achieve change success

3. Communicate openly and frequently

Transparent and ongoing communication with leaders and stakeholders is crucial to engage employees, minimize resistance, and streamline the transition to change.

Apart from frequent and open communication, Prosci research has shown that employees prefer different senders for different message types. For example, most employees preferred to receive organizational messages, like the business reasons for change, from the CEO or president.

A communications plan can help change managers choose preferred senders, guide them on how to deliver key information, and answer employee questions. Using this, they can address essential topics during the transition, including the need for change, its impact on employees, and its long-term outlook.

Successful Change Management Examples

Companies that view change management as a core competency consistently integrate change management tactics into their organization to achieve strong outcomes from change.

Our research shows that 88% of participants with excellent change management met or exceeded objectives.

Correlation of Change Management Effectiveness With Meeting Project Objectives

Correlation Between Change Management and Project Success_No Title

Companies all over the world have used the Prosci Methodology for successful change management. Here are three case studies that highlight how we drive success:

1. University of Virginia

The University of Virginia (UVA) struggled with change fatigue and missed project objectives because it failed to consider how change would impact people’s jobs. Realizing the need to elevate its organizational change capability, the organization turned to Prosci.

Microsoft used the Prosci Methodology to raise adoption rates

Key steps in UVA change management initiative included:

  • Certifying 54 key UVA employees in Prosci change management
  • Applying Prosci best practices to develop the University Project Portfolio framework
  • Integrating project management and change management using the Prosci Methodology

The results

The UVA Office of Organizational Excellence sponsored a three-day Prosci Change Management Certification Program onsite at the university. About 15 months later, UVA had completed 275 improvements and partnerships, saving $21.9 million annually and a cumulative $82.1 million over four years.

Mary Brackett, Senior Associate in the Organizational Excellence program, says:

“Looking at our portfolio of projects through a change management lens helps us not only horizontally across the organization but vertically within each one of our projects. Project managers are consistently more invested in thinking about the impact of their projects on their stakeholders. The effect this is having on project ROI and outcomes cannot be overstated.”

2. Microsoft

Microsoft moved to subscription-based licensing models and cloud services, which pushed them to focus on change management. The company wanted to improve its change capability for customers to adopt Microsoft products quickly and easily, so they turned to the Prosci Methodology.

Microsoft used the Prosci Methodology to raise adoption rates

Key steps in improving Microsoft’s change capability:

  • Acquired a Prosci license to scale the Prosci Methodology
  • Invested in Prosci-Certified Advanced Instructors
  • Certified 2,250+ change practitioners globally
  • Trained 1,000+ managers and sponsors for their roles in change
  • Made change management resources available to 250,000+ Microsoft employees, partners and customers
  • Customized change management training and resources for self-serve use by Microsoft partners and customers

The results

After adopting the Prosci Methodology, Microsoft saw a 450% increase in adoption rates. Also, 80% of customers reported increased adoption and half reduced their deployment times.

Internally, over 25,000+ employees received change management training and online resources. Change management has also become a part of their core systems and professional development programs.

Microsoft also used the Prosci ADKAR® Model to launch its business intelligence reporting solution called MSX Insights (MSXi) in 2023.

3. Global Bank

An international bank with 80,000+ employees and 16 million clients worldwide wanted to increase its organizational change management capability. They created an Organizational Effectiveness (OE) team to manage their strategic investments and get consistent results.

After researching multiple methodologies, the OE team chose the Prosci Methodology based on its merits. The Prosci approach to client partnerships also aligned with the OE team's operating model, which led to a flexible and customized global solution.

An international bank worked with Prosci to build their change capability

Key steps to enhancing the bank’s change capability:

  • Standardizing the Prosci Methodology
  • Creating the corporate Center of Excellence to own change management efforts
  • Establishing a Change Management Federation, comprised of leaders and change experts across departments, to drive change capability
  • Installing a Community of Practice to support practitioners and implement best practices
  • Incorporating the Prosci approach into the OE Center of Excellence and its existing program framework
  • Facilitating Prosci leadership and executive sponsor programs for change management

The results

By intentionally building their change capability, the OE team enhanced their operating model for change management and certified over 500 change practitioners across the enterprise. They also achieved higher levels of employee awareness and engagement during change.

Make the Smart Investment

Build lasting change management capability—and grow stronger from change—when you partner with Prosci. Explore our innovative, research-based Enterprise Solutions today.