What is enterprise change management? In short, it’s the process of building an enterprise-wide change management capability.

How does your organization currently approach change management? Do you deploy it on a project-by-project basis, or is it an enterprise-wide initiative? 

For many organizations, this endeavor is becoming less of an on-demand effort and more of an ongoing one. Today, we’re sharing how enterprise change management can lay a foundation that supports all your future projects, whether they’re ERP implementations, digital transformations, or other types of initiatives that impact your workforce at large.

Change Management Case Study

The client recognized their need for more comprehensive change management, so they asked us to fill in the gaps. We developed a robust communication plan to supplement the vendor’s communication approach.

3 Pillars of Enterprise Change Management

You probably already know about organizational change management. If not, we should first answer the question, “What is Change Management?” (read that blog for in-depth info)

For our purposes today, we’ll suffice it to say that organizational change management (OCM) is a set of tools and techniques often used to soften the blow of large-scale projects impacting multiple stakeholders. OCM ensures employees and other stakeholders feel heard, understood, and supported.

Maybe you’ve used this approach in your own projects and found it quite successful. However, have you ever considered what would happen if you used this approach in your day-to-day operations?

If you operate like this, you’re employing what’s known as enterprise change management (ECM). There are three main pillars of ECM:

  • Develop a central, universal set of tools and processes to facilitate change management 
  • Ensure change support from all organizational leaders, at all levels 
  • Create an agile strategy that anticipates change and responds to market fluctuations

Let’s take a closer look at each one of these pillars in greater detail.

1. Universal Set of Change Tools and Processes

When you begin researching organizational change tools, you’ll find there are many options available. While any of them could bring value to your company, ECM requires consistency, so we recommend using the same tools across the board.

In addition to common tools, you should establish change terminology and processes that are simple and universal, so you can avoid miscommunication and misunderstanding.

Once you’ve decided on the tools and techniques that will work best for your company, it’s important to get the timing right. While many companies put change management activities off until the project is in full-swing, it’s best to start them now, whether or not a large-scale project is in the immediate future. 

This way, you can integrate enterprise change management into your project management strategy right from the beginning. Employees will see it as a natural and organic part of the project, rather than a last-minute add-on.

2. Top-Down Support

To be successful, ECM strategies can’t exist in departmental siloes. While individuals are certainly capable of implementing these initiatives on their own, those competencies can’t skip your C-suite.

If your employees don’t see your company leaders actively embracing and championing change, then you can’t expect employees to support it, either.

Not only do senior executives, project team leaders, and managers need to understand why change is important, but they should be encouraged to build their own change competencies.

Other leaders and influencers who should follow suit include:

  • HR and training professionals
  • Department supervisors
  • Front-line workers

In time, change management should become an integral part of every employee’s job description. Everyone will know that a degree of change responsibility falls on their shoulders, and they’ll be ready to act and respond as required. 

3. Agile Strategy

Enterprise change management should be a key organizational strategy instead of a one-off initiative. It can be as important to your competitive advantage as any other tool, but only if your strategy remains agile and easily adaptable. 

When you aren’t shaken by a new change that must occur at the last minute, you can handle almost anything that comes your way. This can help you outpace peers who haven’t invested as much time, energy, and resources into their own change management strategy.

The Goals of ECM

An effective ECM strategy can transform the way your organization initiates change. By infusing change-readiness into every department, you can make the best use of employees’ skills, experience, and knowledge.

When they feel empowered to contribute ideas and deliver constructive feedback, you may be surprised at the innovations they spearhead and the thought-provoking conversations they initiate.

Another goal of ECM is to ensure that every future project you approach has an inherently people-centric focus. This is important because when you base your project ROI on employee performance and not just system performance, you maximize both. 

Without such a strategy, it’s easy for employees to become overwhelmed by new ideas, systems, and workflows. This can lead to change saturation, meaning the amount of change you’re introducing is making your employees fatigued, discouraged, and apathetic. 

With ECM, your workforce is ready to respond to any degree of change. Even as you take on more ambitious projects, your team members won’t become frustrated or complacent. Rather, they’ll feel like an active and valued part of the effort. 

ECM vs. Change Culture

Much of ECM is about creating an organizational change culture. While this is one aspect of ECM, there’s more to it than that.

This strategy is multi-dimensional. Not only do you have to weave change readiness into every facet of your workplace, but you must implement the three pillars described above.

Implementing ECM at Your Organization

Building organizational change capability into your organization can feel like a daunting task. This isn’t an effort that you can complete in one night, or even one project. It’s an ongoing effort that will continue to grow, change, and develop alongside your company. 

Since the task is so daunting, here’s a simplified example of how one might develop an ECM strategy:

The organization has secured executive sponsorship and knows senior leaders will support an ECM focus. It then creates a structured plan by assessing the company’s current level of change capability and determining how to enhance it.

As the company visualizes its future state, it looks at change from the perspective of each individual employee, as well as on an enterprise-wide and project-wide level.

While developing this plan, the organization does not hyper-focus on any one part of ECM (such as end-user training). Instead, they take a holistic approach, allocating time to various change management success factors.

Evaluating ECM Success

Once you’ve developed an ECM capability within your organization, it’s time to step back and make sure your efforts are paying off.

For instance, you should establish methods to analyze the rate at which change strategies are implemented into various projects, such as:

Are employees, managers, and executives all employing change strategies throughout their departments and units? Do they have easy access to the tools they need to manage change, and are they using them?

You should also gauge the level of time and resources that are being devoted to your company’s ECM strategy.

Keep in mind that one department with a rockstar ECM approach isn’t enough to carry your whole company. To be truly successful, change management must be consistently applied across your organization.

If you notice anything amiss, we recommend investing in ongoing training to refresh your team on the core concepts of your ECM strategy. As you do, make sure department leaders have the tools they need to guide their team members through any organizational change.

What is Enterprise Change Management? [A Summary]

With today’s ever-evolving technology landscape, enterprise change management can be your life preserver.

What is enterprise change management? It’s about extending the principles of project-based organizational change management into your everyday business operations.

Our change management consultants can help you build an organizational change capability that prepares your team for any project that comes its way. Contact us below for a free consultation. 

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