Rinse and repeat. A fair piece of advice when telling someone how to assemble the drawers of an Ikea dresser, but not when it comes to orchestrating multiple organizational change management projects across a large company. Anyone who has been on the project management side of simultaneous, large-scale organizational change understands that the change management process does not compound linearly, it compounds exponentially.
We're all about simplifying the change management process here at ChangeAnalytics. So, with the headache of organizational change in mind, we’re highlighting 8 of the biggest differences an organization can expect when managing tens (or hundreds) of projects, compared to just one of them.
We wouldn’t want you trying to put a dresser together when what you really need to be doing is building a house. So read on for your guide to change management metrics and what to keep in mind when measuring change success.
1. Resource Availability
As a project manager, tackling just one change management project isn't usually too much of a struggle. But when you get into the tens or hundreds of projects happening simultaneously, figuring out your available resources for your change management effort is a bit like trying to get people to calmly board life rafts on a sinking ship.
Fortunately, your organization isn’t sinking, but time is of the essence and things can get frantic real quick. Even the most effective project manager can only be in so many places (and on so many projects) at once. We talk a lot about change fatigue and change saturation of impacted users , but it also impacts your change team.
Don’t pretend that “everyone’s fine” just because you hope they are. Successful changes meet potential incidents like resource scarcity head on.
2. Scalability & Adaptability
This ties into resource availability but it’s slightly nuanced. Change managers are good at ballparking the general path of any project, but unforeseen hurdles will always appear forcing teams to adapt and recalibrate.
Sometimes that recalibration might be adding more resources or additional change management activities. This is fine if there are only a handful of projects, but when there are tens or hundreds, every project’s flex for more power becomes a drain on the whole system, keeping teams from being able to scale and adapt.
A key performance indicator of change management effectiveness is how many resources are used before the change really sticks. Things like moving an employee from one project to another before it is complete can severely affect project performance.
Organizational change management is just like any other project; the fewer you have active at one time, the more focus you can give to project success. Companies with many projects in flight, however, need to think more broadly and consider the overarching objectives when measuring successful change management.
- What projects are impacting the same business goal?
- What projects are only meaningful to a particular portfolio's charge?
Allowing change leaders to be the leader of their own fiefdom leads to competing objectives and unprepared-for dependencies due to a lack of internal communication. So many things are interconnected. The wake of one project can disrupt the path of another.
Keeping all projects centered around a few overarching business objectives is a crucial step in ensuring employee engagement, change communication, and overall stronger project performance. We’ve seen clients with two projects that initially seemed like they were paddling in the same direction, but when they zoomed out, they could see that they didn’t have the same destination in mind.
It's critical to get an elevated point-of-view when multiple projects are in play. From that perch, you can make better decisions on what needs to be prioritized.
Which leads us to our next point.
When managing multiple projects, which tasks take precedence? Is it a popularity contest between change leads? Is it an arms race between executives? What we know is if all the rain falls on impacted users at once, emotional dams will break due to change saturation, and you will be left to pick up the pieces of disengagement.
Any time you have more than a handful of projects on the board, leaders need to meet regularly to sequence what really needs to come first and why.
5. Risk Management
Maybe it’s obvious to some, but because multiple projects are interconnected amongst goals, outcomes, and impacted groups, this means that risk management becomes more complex. A butterfly flapping its wings knocks down a train of dominos in the process. One risk becomes many in the blink of an eye. That’s why it’s important to know each individual project’s risk profile as well as how certain projects are intertwined with others.
One thing we like to say is that if an impacted group is experiencing two changes, one being high impact and the other being low, the group’s impact level is high. Impacts don’t average, you take the high-water mark as truth for that group. This is important to remember when thinking about risk.
Change leaders in charge of the lone change management project at a company have no problem handling internal communication and ensuring stakeholder satisfaction.
But when stakeholders are getting it from all fronts due to multiple projects, communication channels can get clogged. The last thing you want is to have someone’s inbox or Slack channel feel like a Twitter feed of disparate information.
When that happens, communication isn’t taking place, because for something to be effectively communicated, it needs to be uttered by one party and understood by the other.
Communication is a huge indicator when measuring change management KPIs because it can make or break your change initiative. In the battle for attention, consideration needs to be thought out as to the what, when, and how of any communication if you want more of a response than eyes glazed over.
We’re pretty sure that right now there are change management gems wasting away in desktop folders on individual computers all over the place. These documents, reports, or presentations might provide important insight or context to unlock someone’s roadblock, but these insights are in a de facto organizational crypt.
This is what happens when change moves fast and too many projects are pancaked on top of one another. Organizations with lots of change initiatives need to have a central repository where change materials can be shared and searched for.
It’s simple to hold folks accountable when there is only one or two projects on everyone’s plate, but when too many dependencies and unknowns creep in from a deluge of projects, it becomes hard for organizations to make sure that everyone is following through on their responsibilities. It's easy to get lost in the crowd when the crowd is keeping someone from even getting from point A to point B.
So, make sure you know what you are tracking. How are you measuring success of both the project and your change management team, regardless of all the noise and distractions that inevitably try to derail a perfectly laid out plan?
Your Partner for Successful Change Management
Laying all those performance indicators out like that, we know it can feel like exponential doom and gloom and a lot of plates to keep spinning. But it doesn’t really have to be that way.
If you’re feeling like you are facing some of these larger-organization realities and you want to see how ChangeAnalytics can help your change management or center-of-excellence team get alignment (and some air) so you can effectively drive towards the business and adoption results you’re after, contact us for more information or to schedule a demo . We’d love to help.