In a recent CWS 3.0 article, I shared some pointers for program managers to consider for a successful change within their CW program. As we know, a successful change is critical for the program, the team implementing the change and the organization as a whole. But before you can concern yourself with having a successful change, how do you even know you should implement a change — or what that change should actually be?

Identifying options. Program changes are usually prompted by having identified a weakness that you want to improve or a strength that you want to expand. Understanding the value (return on investment) that these changes could bring can help determine whether the change is worthy of consideration. Remember, though, that value does not always come in a direct financial form. Implementing a change that will save your end users time or provide them better visibility, for example, could be extremely valuable but may not have a measurable impact on the organization’s bottom line. If you are considering several changes, ranking them by the ROI that will be recognized can help to determine which should be considered and how likely the organization will be to adopt the change. And we cannot stress enough that adoption is critical for any change to succeed. Without adoption, your change has failed.

The likelihood of securing approval can also speak to whether it is the right choice or the right time. Educating those who will have a part in the approval process is critical. Being able to define the “as-is” state of your program as well as the desired state can help with this process. Defining the “as-is” state will require you to provide as much detail as you can about the existing state of the program, including processes, people and performance. The details about your desired state should include how the program will perform post change, emphasizing how the change would improve the identified weakness or expand the strength, as well as the ROI the change would bring.

Prepare for rejection. It is possible that, after considering the change and its ROI, it may become clear that moving forward does not make the most sense. Sometimes the value does not outweigh the efforts or internal change management required to implement it, or the timing may just not be right. It is better to be patient and set aside the change request rather than have the change fail.

If you determined it is the right time and right change, create your business case for it. If created properly, the business case will earn the “stamp of approval” to move forward. Creating a good business case will require you to provide just enough details, facts and insight without being overly detailed or wordy. Be sure to include:

  • The current state, so decision-makers understand why the change needs to be considered;
  •  the desired state, so they understand how the change will improve the program; and
  • the value that the organization will realize.

You will also likely need to include some external information (possibly industry examples) to help support the change, along with any type of financial costs that may be associated with implementation.

Coming up with ways to change your program is usually not difficult, but making sure it is the right change at the right time — and that it will be worth the investment — is. Make sure to take the time to create a strategy for implementing the change and that you keep adoption as your measure of success.