A large utility company lacked a formal change management program. But with a huge ERP implementation on the horizon, it was time to develop its change management capabilities.

Challenge

Stretched Resources and a Lack of Change-Readiness

One of the nation’s largest municipal utility companies provides electric and natural gas services to over one million customers. With a focus on initiatives like renewable energy and operational efficiency, the company faces constant change. 

Previously, however, the company had only a few resources managing change and no formal change management structure, resulting in an inability to have sufficient impact on change outcomes. Many complex projects on the horizon, including numerous digital transformation projects, intensified the risk of not managing changes effectively. The company reached a turning point when a huge multiyear ERP transformation project started gaining momentum. 

The legacy ERP system was over two decades old. It enabled day-to-day activities across the business—like customer account management, customer service, human resources, finance, procurement, supply chain and logistics, asset management, and more—and everyone in the business experienced its painful limitations. From its disparate systems and fragmented data to its impact on the employee and customer experience, plus a projected sunsetting of the system in a few years, transitioning to a new ERP system was a necessity.    


The estimated cost for this large-scale, five-year ERP transformation project is over $200 million.


In addition to the inherent risk of such an enormous investment, any rollout failures or disruption to business operations could have serious implications for employees, customers, and the company’s reputation. This expenditure has also contributed to a rate hike for utility customers. With so much at stake, leadership decided it was time for a dedicated Change Management Office (CMO) and a formal, structured model for managing change.

Solution

Building a Change Management Office

The utility company had developed a relationship with Prosci in recent years. Prosci Executive Instructors had facilitated numerous onsite training programs and briefings, and the company had secured a Prosci License to cost-effectively support their change management efforts.

With confidence in Prosci, the company chose to engage Prosci Advisory Services to help stand up a CMO and develop a roadmap for building enterprise change capability. The Advisory Services Enterprise Change Management offering—a flexible, customized solution for embedding change management into the fabric of the organization—fit their needs.

 

The CMO Operating Model

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Numerous Prosci Advisors partnered with the small change management team and company leadership, both onsite and virtually, to develop a strategy and plan for the CMO. The CMO sits within the IT department, especially important with the technology projects underway. Prosci Advisors designed the CMO operating model based on the company’s criteria and scope, with increasing project success as the primary objective.

The customized CMO has four main service offerings:
•    Project Support and Execution
•    Change Management Capabilities and Maturity
•    Change Management Standard Work
•    Change Portfolio Management

The CMO offers its services at three levels within the organization. Examples of services at these levels include:
•    Portfolio – Conduct a Change Management Maturity Model Audit
•    Project – Collect and Share Performance Data
•    Personal/Practitioner – Build Change Management Training Capability

Coaching and Training

Prosci Advisors also provided expert change management coaching and guidance. One-on-one coaching for change practitioners helped these individuals bring more value to their roles and the projects they supported. Guidance for project managers, sponsors, continuous improvement team members, and others helped each gain a better understanding of change management and how to best partner with the CMO to support change initiatives. In addition, Prosci has delivered numerous programs and workshops onsite, further extending change capabilities.

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The company’s Prosci ECM License enables it to deliver online, anytime Prosci eLearning modules to targeted audiences around the organization. Modules such as Introduction to Change Management and Introduction to ADKAR® help to establish a common language for change and understanding of change management. These modules are part of the employee onboarding process and are also required training elsewhere in the organization. 

Integrating the CMO and EPMO

At the same time this utility company was building its CMO, it decided to establish an Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO). Both organizations understood the importance of integrating their two functions, and the Prosci Advisors had the expertise to help them accomplish it. 

This integrated approach includes a centralized process for project intake, and then based on assessing change impact, project prioritization followed by allocation of project management and change management resources. The integration allows the CMO to engage in projects early on, which is critical to achieving desired project outcomes. What’s more, numerous project managers recently became Prosci Certified Change Practitioners, adding to the strength of the change management operation and integration of the two teams.

Data-Driven Operations

The CMO partnered with Prosci Advisors to design, develop and implement a series of change portfolio dashboards to track information related to project success, training efforts, and the CMO’s quality standards.

Prosci Advisors have also helped the company harness Microsoft® Power BI® as a visualization tool, giving the CMO a new capability for capturing data insights and understanding how to optimize the value of change management moving forward. 

Results

Helping High-Risk Projects Succeed

Through the dedicated, in-depth support of Prosci Advisors, in less than six months the company’s change management function went from a few practitioners to a structured, strategic, centralized CMO with a staff of 12 individuals with clearly defined roles, ready to take on even the most complex projects.

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The CMO is now actively engaged on many projects, such as a cloud migration project where they’re moving enterprise-wide applications from on-premise servers to the cloud. In fact, with the growing trust in the CMO, even leaders beyond IT have been reaching out to the CMO asking for support on some of their largest initiatives, which is a significant cultural shift. 

Importantly, with the CMO in place, the organization is now far better equipped to achieve desired returns on its huge ERP project investment. A robust change management operating model, close alignment between the CMO and EPMO, and growing change management capabilities will all help reduce risk and prove instrumental in helping the five-year project succeed.  

Looking Ahead

The momentum continues for the CMO and the organization on the whole for building change capabilities. The company now has five active Prosci Train-the-Trainers, whose credentials allow them to deliver numerous Prosci role-based programs internally, such as Change Management Practitioner Program, Leading Your Team Through Change, and Delivering Project Results Workshop.

This cost-effective strategy gives the company the flexibility to scale its delivery of change management programs and accelerate its approach to building capability. 

The CMO will perform annual Prosci Change Management Maturity Model Audits—a method for the team to measure the organization’s current level of change management maturity and to identify steps to move the capability forward. Overall, with a formal CMO backed by a standardized change management methodology, the company has the organizational agility to support individuals moving through change, increase project success rates, and grow the business. 

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