CIOs are increasingly questioned about the ROI from technology investments, but shortcomings don’t always lie with the technology itself. Management research studies indicate that 60-70% of technology programs fail or do not meet the intended objectives due to poor people adoption and organizational issues. Many companies undertaking large-scale programs are beginning to factor change management into the process, but some still do not. They should.
Change management is critical to the success of any transformation project. Today, many transformations intended to meet the challenges of digital disruption are of a varied nature, scope, and scale. When starting a new project, the lack of synergy and coordination within the organization leads to inconsistent messaging, lack of best practices, and incompatible tools and processes. There are also challenges about how to manage the people side of disruption to derive business value. A change management office (CMO) is uniquely positioned to address these issues while managing change across the organization.
The issues preventing most projects from success can be summarized into three themes:
- Absence or poorly managed change is a major contributor to project failures.
- Change management involving user awareness, communication, and training is an ongoing exercise and applies to the business-as-usual environment too – and not just at the time of a major transformation.
- Coordinated change management is required in large organizations. When running various programs in parallel, CMOs can provide scalability, a common language, and frameworks that lead to cost and resource optimization on change management efforts.
These challenges can each be overcome with a CMO managing the change. Without one, enterprises risk slower adoption and potentially greater expense. Consider the following examples:
- An energy leader in the Middle East implemented SAP vendor invoice management without considering change management. The project failed, and after deployment, change-management consultants needed to be engaged to onboard employees through a comprehensive awareness and training program to drive software adoption.
- A leading Middle East telecommunications company embarked on a three-year digital transformation of its business support systems. Within the first few months, training issues surfaced, and leadership realized the IT department had neglected to address the organizational challenges this transformation program created for 35,000 users. Change-management consultants were engaged to manage the closure of a complex transformation that included organizational politics, user resistance, and technological roadblocks.
- The CIO of a refinery was asked to justify the ROI of various services offered by the IT department. A review showed that many IT services were underutilized, resulting in wasted license fees. Further analysis revealed a lack of awareness among employees about the services available and how to use them.
Key change management challenges for CIOs
Today, CIOs are finding it increasingly difficult to prove positive impact across the organization. The value created by IT is not properly recognized. Most of the organization views IT more as an operational department rather than a strategic enabler. Among the many variables contributing to this view, absence or poor change management in IT projects is a key factor. The primary change management challenges faced by CIOs of large organizations include:
- Delay in adapting to the new system or process by end users, exhibiting high resistance to behave in a desired way
- Demand for OCM resources to handle and drive organizational change is increasing day by day
- Change management efforts are individually handled at project level and in silos
- No common change management framework and methodologies.
Due to the complexities inherent in global organizations, many are now seriously exploring the idea of having a centralized change management office to build enterprise-wide change capability. The idea of a change management office has been there for some time, but few organizations embraced the concept. Most studies show that organizations that do not adopt CMOs have largely remained dysfunctional and project management continues to operate in silos.
The Change Management Office (CMO) is an entity within the organization which takes care of all the organizational change management requirements. It is a department or group formed by a team of specialized individuals mandated to bring uniformity, common language, and framework to change management efforts. CMOs support integrated change management effort bringing synergy and consistency to any project by designing common tools and templates to use across the organization and serve as a center of excellence. The key advantages of having an integrated change management office can be summarized as:
- Common tools, templates, and a repeatable process that cuts across the organization
- A coordinated change management approach can apply best practices
- Highly scalable organizational change process
- Provides role clarity to prevent siloed management
- Increases speed and agility by reducing the need for rework
- Guides areas of the organization with less experience in managing change to leverage experience from other departments.
The CMO can help build change maturity in the organization. It operates similar to a project management office (PMO), and includes a centralized pool of dedicated change consultants. The CMO provides a focal point for governing, structuring and implementing change initiatives. It legitimizes change activities and ensures a consistent approach to the “people side of change”, which is where many projects fail. It addresses communications, training, and effective management of change across a portfolio of change programs. A structured approach is followed, increasing the likelihood of a successful implementation and adoption of new or existing programs in any organization.