When you can tell the story of change management using a business case, you can gain credibility, make the connection between the people side of change and project outcomes, and make change management real for your audiences.
There has been a growing recognition of the need for change management, but many change management practitioners still find themselves struggling to get the commitment, support and resources they need on a project. Have you ever thought about telling the story of change management in a business case?
A business case is a formal, structured document that tells the story of a project or task, all the way from rationale to approach. In the change management space, the business case can go a long way in building support and commitment.
There are three primary benefits of using a business case to tell the story of change management: gaining credibility, connecting to project results, and making change management real for your audience.
The business case itself is a credible document. Senior leaders and project leaders alike are familiar with the structure, format and use of a business case. Leaders expect to see situational assessments, project descriptions, solution descriptions, and cost-benefit analyses when they evaluate an undertaking and decide on priority and resources. Your business case for change management addresses all of these in a clear way.
You also gain credibility by putting in the effort to write a business case. It shows that you have considered and thought through various aspects of change management and have taken the additional step of capturing your reasoning in a formal document. You are presenting change management like other efforts in the organization are presented.
Finally, a business case directly addresses the misperception that change management is soft and fuzzy. With the business case as your vehicle, you can clearly demonstrate the need, value and approach for managing the people side of change.
These are common objections that change management practitioners face when introducing change management to project leaders or senior leaders:
It is hard to build support for change management if you are unable to connect the people side of change to what leaders care about: getting the expected results and outcomes from change.
The business case is a powerful vehicle for making the connection between project results and the people side of change. In particular, the situational assessment and problem statement section of the business case lets you explain the rationale of change management in the appropriate context, which is the benefit realization, results and outcomes of the change.
The situation you are addressing, or problem that you are solving, is not that "change management is missing on this project," but rather "to get what we want out of this initiative, people have to change how they do their jobs." This is a subtle but important shift in conversation, and it allows you to express the need for change management in terms of project success, which is crucial for gaining support and buy-in. The situational assessment and problem statement section of the business case is your venue for showing how project results are tied to the people side of change.
By completing a business case, you answer these question:
Many leaders are reluctant to support change management simply because they do not know what it actually means to apply change management on a project. The business case gives you specific opportunities to make change management real for your audiences.
One of the major values of writing a business case for change management is that you can explain change management in language and terms your audience will understand. In the project description section of the business case, you present three aspects of your proposal for change management:
Clearly explaining the scope of change management (both what is in scope and what is out of scope) and clearly defining the objectives (what you expect to deliver to the project) makes it real.
In the solution description section of the business case, you provide even more detail about what applying change management on the project really means. You will present change management in terms of:
These are all terms your leaders are familiar with, and putting change management into these terms removes some of the mystique that surrounds change management for those who have not seen it or experienced it in action.
You know the value of change management. You know what it means to apply change management on a project. You know how individual transitions cumulatively result in project outcomes. And you know what steps you would take in support of a project team. The problem is that your leaders may not. The business case is a powerful vehicle for building credibility, connecting the people side of change to project results and clearly explaining what you will bring to a project. If you have ever struggled to gain support, resources and funding for change management from leaders, try telling your story in a structured, formal document they are familiar with—the business case.