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Are we underestimating the importance of a well thought Change Management Strategy when developing Communications and Business Readiness deliverables?

One of the first days of my current project I got funny looks when I said: "to deliver this project on time and on budget, we need to incorporate a thorough Change Management Strategy" Some of the comments I received were: "We are not really changing much, it's just a platform upgrade." "Can you just do some nice communication's plan?" "In this organization people easily adapt to changes" "Do not overcomplicate things"

After hearing all the comforting feedback I felt relieved and thought that my job as an OCM lead would be really easy. So I ditched the whole OCM wheel and jumped straight into building deliverables such as communication templates and business readiness dashboards. At the end, who has time for a rhetorical strategy and a comprehensive OCM plan with the overall tight schedule proposed by the program?
Soon enough I learned that if you underestimate the need of Change Management you're going to end up in a pretty hot mess or in a lot of meetings pointing fingers, blaming each other on the project team. And I can tell you neither of those things are pleasant!
Letting personal opinions or rule of thumb govern critical engagements are costly mistakes, especially when implementing technologies that affect a large number of users across the board. Why would you take the risk of underestimating users' reactions when the project you're working on will change their way of working?  There are multiple cases studies demonstrating how projects failed for overlooking the importance of human interactions and for not having a Change Management Strategy in place.
Then again if you bottle everything and carelessly continue preparing deliverables just to check the boxes; then, don't expect anything more than lack of support from impacted users. No proper Business Readiness Assessment or Communications Templates can be delivered, if you don't have thorough Change Management Strategy to start with.
Really, if you aspire to achieve more than ordinary results in your technology implementation projects and minimize push-back from end users, just give Change Management the place it deserves in every engagement and don't make the mistake of oversimplifying people's impact. Instead, plan accordingly and build some contingency in your projects to account for stakeholders' resistance, which is an inevitable response to any major to change.  

Comments

Great post. Typical "technology" projects where they think is a lift and shift should also consider people change.

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