There will be many risks associated with change, but there will always be a solution, some will be easy to identify and implement, whilst others will be more challenging. A risk in a project sense is an outcome that causes a change whether that change has a benefit or adverse effect on the running of a business. Each change made is a risk.
The main risks with change can be summarised as:
Being able to manage the aspirations of individuals and groups of individuals is the single biggest challenge of a change project, this is where strong leadership is required. Mapping out Stakeholders and where the fall in relation to the change project is essential to the ‘people’ aspect. Identifying their concerns, needs and wants against perceived benefits and actionable outputs of a change project is essential.
People risk management, both up and down, is a key part of managing the biggest risk to a change project. Ensuring that the change team has the correct structure, leadership and sponsor support assists greatly with a change project. Without this support to the change team they will become sidelined as personalities and egos take over from identified benefits and improvements leading to a high risk of failure for the change project.
‘Change is easy, changing people is difficult’. We’re all comfortable with what we know, it is human nature. However, if you can begin to change the mind set of ‘people’ then change becomes a far easier process.
Detailing the perceived benefits and using this as the reasoning behind any investment in a change project will present its own unique sets of risks, issues and problems. This is where you have hung your hat to say ‘if we do this then the benefits that we will see are….’. However if the benefits do not materialise then you’re in trouble. Mapping out primary and then secondary or even tertiary benefits is a useful task, this allows the change manager to map out his benefits realisation time line and have a benefits management strategy right from the start which can be then used to firstly justify the change project and then used to brief senior management on progress. It has the benefit of being a tool that can be used to keep a change project on track.
As with any change the way that business activities are conducted will change. It is essential that business processes are modified and updated to keep pace with the change. This is a boring task but without it any benefits will be quickly lost as the ‘people risk’ aspect of a business goes back to what they were used to and were more comfortable with.
An effective risk management strategy set up and planned with risk management documentation is key. Even a simple risk scoring policy that allows risk to be prioritised is better than nothing. Ensuring that the correct level and fidelity of data made available to enable change greatly assists with the management and understanding of risk. Telematics as the enabler allows the change team to view and assess a number of business areas simultaneously to identify areas for improvement, whilst being able to manage the people within the change process with real time information.
All risk, issues and problems must be identified, understood, allocated, managed and mitigated to ensure a successful change project outcome.