Misty Faucheux has written an excellent series on change management methodologies here at BrightHub. In her articles she discusses ways that project managers can successfully incorporate change into their projects. With all change, however, come particular risks. Perhaps the change will not catch on as fast as it needs to or perhaps the end-users will not accept the change. This article lists the risks involved in change management.
Resistance to Change
Resistance to change is one of the biggest reasons that change management undertakings fail. People tend to fear change, and employees may be reluctant to see their familiar processes and software programs thrown out. There are many ways to combat resistance to change. One way is to ensure that employees see that the management is completely committed to ensuring the change occurs. Second, it is important for the change vision to be communicated clearly to all employees so that everybody understands what to expect. Part of why people resist change is the fear of the unknown. For a beginner’s introduction to change management that discusses six other success factors in change management, view my article "An Introduction to Change Management Methodology."
Let’s face it, scope creep is a risk of every project. This risk involves the scope of the project becoming larger over time. This is especially a threat in change management situations. Imagine the following scenario: Boss A wishes to create a change in the manner TPS reports are delivered. He announces "We are going to change the TPS delivery method." Employee J responds with "How about we require a cover sheet?" and employee K responds "Let’s require these reports to be due at 9am every morning." After a few days, the scope of the TPS report change has widened so broadly as to require things like a clip art image of a giraffe on the fourth page and a coffee stain on the back. In order to avoid scope creep in change management, it is vital that the scope of the change be explicitly stated and communicated to all whom the change affects. For more information on writing effective scope statements, you may wish to read Eric Stallworth’s article, "How to Write a Scope Statement."
Loss of Important Information in the Conversion
A third risk in change management is the possibility of losing important data during the conversion process – especially if the change involves a change in software, or a change from paper to software. By effectively utilizing project management strategies, this risk can be averted to some degree. Ensure that a very reliable team is in charge of backing up the data and converting the data to the new system. Make sure that there is an effective plan included in your change management documents as to how data conversion will be handled. For suggestions of questions to answer during the change planning process concerning data management, see this excerpt from Bennet P. Lientz and Kathryn P. Rae’s book, Breakthrough IT change management: How to get enduring change results.
Carefully Plan to Avoid Disaster
By carefully planning, disaster during the change process can be averted. For more reading on change management methodology, read the following articles:
chemuturi’s "What do You do with Change Requests?"
Joe Taylor Jr.’s "Best Practices of Change Management: Dealing with Change"