By: Lauren Dellarocco
In the past, when organizational changes weren’t as pressing or persistent, changes were typically executed on a case-by-case basis. As new developments and technologies continue to enter the market, the need for organizational change continues to increase.
Before the robust digital age, a case-by-case approach for change implementation and change management might have worked. Today, companies that haven’t solidified a framework for effective change management can expect to lose their competitive advantage very quickly. If a company isn’t persistent in reevaluating the current state of the business and identifying opportunities for improvement, the competition that does prioritize improvements will prevail.
It’s estimated that each month, around 543,000 new businesses emerge. That’s 6.5 million new businesses entering the already-competitive market each year.
Every company strives to maintain a competitive advantage, and with millions of competing businesses entering the market each year, companies need to remain fluid, adaptable, and forward-thinking. This is where an organizational change evolves in to an enterprise change.
What is Enterprise Change Management?
Think organizational change, but on a much larger scale. Enterprise change management (ECM) takes organizational change management to the next level.
As long as change remains a constant, change management remains as a constant, required measure. ECM is the process by which a company implements and manages an organizational change on a comprehensive, high-level view.
The constant imminence of organizational change enables leaders to define an enterprise change management process that develops a common language and ensures consistently-applied standards across the board to maximize change capability. This management process serves to mitigate the consequences of unplanned changes and establish a standard operating procedure (SOP) for managing future changes.
The Importance of Enterprise Change Management
An organizational change is not an easy undertaking—especially for the change management team. Change affects everyone associated with the company, from senior leaders to the frontline staff and the consumer.
Effective enterprise change management enables standards, guidelines and expectations to be applied consistently throughout the enterprise. The ECM process establishes a status quo for dealing with change; it’s used as a stable roadmap that ensures change project success with minimal disruptions.
A surprising 90% of companies fail to execute successful strategies and reach business objectives. Why are company strategies failing at such a high rate? The answer is: poor planning.
The ECM process centralizes the organizational change process to implement change on a broad and expansive level. By institutionalizing each step and expectation in the change process, a company increases its change capability, business agility and adaptability—all the properties necessary for competitive success.
Effective enterprise change management can lead to:
- Increased ROI
- Improved change capability and business agility
- Increased effectiveness in business processes
- Small-scale and large-scale project success
- Improvements in work productivity and efficiency
- Simplified change implementation
- Clear and productive communication
Tips to Ensure Effective Enterprise Change Management
To manage a successful enterprise change, the company requires sufficient time, budget, and resources (like human capital). If a company lacks resources to support the change or budgets to fund the change, undergoing an enterprise change can result in lost profits, high employee turnover, and failed projects.
#1: Establish a Common Language
A successful change requires the development of a common language that all team members, levels, and departments of the enterprise can understand and use. Ineffective communication throughout a change can lead to misunderstandings, frustrations, missed details, and failed business objectives.
Common language among leaders and team members ensures that all changes and efforts are progressing toward the same, clearly-defined goal. This measure ensures that everyone has a common understanding of the expectations and next steps underway.
The common language created should be clear, easy to understand, and natural for team members to adopt. Communication software that fosters effective, goal-oriented communication journeys is commonly implemented to reinforce the common language.
Because enterprise change management occurs on a large-scale, instead of a project-by-project basis, establishing a common language and common tools that make sense to everyone will reduce the chances of decreased productivity, employee resistance, and resulting customer satisfaction.
#2: Create a Roadmap that Enforces Accountability
Each team member plays a critical role in furthering some aspect of the change initiative. Senior leaders, the frontline staff, project managers, the supporting project management team and leaders in human resources all contribute to the project success.
The management team will collaborate to determine timelines, milestones and available budgets that apply to all team members in the enterprise. The team will also identify the overall scalability of change, and work to secure buy-in from team members and key stakeholders. Project managers will establish measurements of accountability to ensure that no objectives or deadlines are missed.
#3: Develop Change Management Leadership Skills
Strong leadership among the project team is essential for implementing an effective enterprise change and ensuring that progress and deliverables are on-time and on-budget. The company needs to invest resources into management training for team members who are responsible for leading change management practices.
Leaders and managers need to understand the reasons driving the change and the importance and urgency behind the change. Leaders must possess the specific skills necessary for effective management. (Talent management software is often implemented to attract, manage, and retain the right talent that fulfills each role to prepare for forthcoming enterprise changes.)
Change leaders must be competent and knowledgeable with proficient management skills that enable them to engage with team members of all levels and departments.
#4: Foster Direct, Productive, and Open Communication
To cultivate effective internal communication throughout an enterprise change, communications need to be clear, direct, and productive. Communications should be goal-oriented, working to achieve objectives and reach milestones. The management team and senior leaders must encourage team members to report honest feedback and evaluations during the process.
Listening to the pain-points, experiences, and suggestions of every team member is incredibly valuable for senior leadership to construct the least-disruptive enterprise change process. The experiences of the frontline staff will vary drastically from the experiences of the management team.
Senior leaders are often detached from the customer service side of business operations. Team members on the frontline can provide a valuable, first-hand account of the customers’ feedback and frustrations, which empowers management to rectify any oversights and work toward improving the customer experience. Open communication between leaders and team members of every department enables process gaps to be identified and filled in a timely manner.
#5: Never Stop Evaluating Processes, Performance, and Productivity
For companies to continue improving the consumer experience and the efficiency of business processes, regular evaluation and assessment must be conducted throughout each project lifecycle.
Leaders of successful companies prioritize evaluations and assessments of processes, performance and productivity levels. Gauging the company’s progress by persistent evaluation of performance data and analytics enables the company to progress its degree of change management maturity.
A maturity assessment model (like Prosci’s change management maturity model) provides a visual for assessing the company’s current state of change capability. Leaders can use a change management maturity model to determine where the company lies in its mastery of change management, and to identify the specific steps it can take to reach maximum profitability and agility.
Implementing and practicing effective enterprise change management falls in the hands of every team member. Enterprise change management practices, unlike granular organizational changes, institute standard operating procedures that guide the change management process with widespread, consistent application.
One of the main objectives throughout an enterprise change management process that guides the people side of change is to minimize resistance and resulting disruption. A successful change process anticipates, communicates, and resolves resistance. Enterprise change management practices are established to create a referential roadmap that prepares the company for implementation, management, and evaluation of organizational changes.