At the onset of any transformational project, you will often hear the term “Change Management”. When you do, it is often followed by a roll of the eyes, or an immediate throat clearing – often indicating this is the first place where project budget cuts will occur. Worse than these reactions is when you mention the term “Change Agent” or “Agent of Change” and request a resource for such a position. The role of a “Change Agent” is often subjected to intense criticism, scrutiny, and stereotyping. However, the value of such a role is critical to any project’s success; Change Agents turn strategy into reality.
When I first started my career in consulting (some 15 years ago) a standard element of a system implementation was to understand a client’s current state (‘As Is’) process in order to capture requirements and then develop a future state (‘To Be’) process. Because this exercise was rather lengthy, over time consulting companies began to move away from this approach as a way of saving time and speeding up the delivery of projects. Down but not out for the count, this ‘As Is’ and ‘To Be’ process analysis might have a new home – Change Management.
Occasionally, a new term arises in the world of professional services that seems to have come out of nowhere. Slowly, the word or phrase is integrated into statements of work or your Linked In updates and before you know it, it’s considered essential. The question often asked is “How can it be critical if we’ve gotten by without it for so long?”
Change Management is one such term. In the past five years, it has popped up left and right at conferences, in white papers and in contracts and to the uninitiated, it may seem nebulous. And to some degree, it is. Change Management is an inclusive term that involves everything needed to ease an organization into a new product, process or protocol with minimal complications.