Delivering Effective Organizational Change Management


After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Manage organizational change successfully

Organizational Change Management Best Practices

Importance of Organizational Change Management

Research by McKinsey and Company found, "change programs with governance structures clearly identifying roles and responsibilities are 6.4 times more likely to succeed", in the paper, How do we manage the change journey?. McKinsey also found employee engagement, especially early in the planning process to be a key indicator of success in a global analysis of successful organizational transformations.

To foster engagement, they suggest breaking the change process into small, clearly defined activities, and involving employees to give them a sense of ownership in the change initiative. In addition, regular communication from the executive stakeholders is important in keeping employees engaged, positive, and reducing change fatigue during a large-scale transformation.

This is why SAP created the SAP Activate Methodology - to provide a literal roadmap for partners and customers to follow during an implementation, and after go-live to maintain the solution through future release upgrades. Each deliverable consists of small, clearly-defined tasks that are targeted to specific role(s), and include templates and/or resources to help the responsible person get started right away.

McKinsey's extensive research on organizational change management also found the following characteristics to be essential for creating a change plan closely tied to success:

  • Assessing a company's present situation rigorously
  • Identifying the current state of corporate capabilities and problems
  • Explicitly identifying underlying mindsets that must change for the transformation to succeed

Premortem Analysis with the Project Team

In his 2004 book, The Power of Intuition, researcher Gary Klein devised a "premortem analysis" procedure to help teams develop the ability to quickly adapt to changing situations as exceptions occur over the course of a project. The idea came from a study he conducted at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs that found prospective hindsight, where you imagine an event has already occurred, can increase a person's ability to correctly identify reasons for future outcomes by up to 30 percent. This means that if you imagine an event has already occurred in great detail, you are able to learn many of the same lessons you would have learned if the event had actually happened in real life.

A premortem comes at the beginning of a project, so the team can anticipate potential issues that could happen and develop resolutions in advance. If and when any of those problems occur during the project, the team can quickly and easily implement the resolution they've already identified.

This is how Gary Klein describes the procedure: "Start by assuming [your] undertaking has failed spectacularly. Then, over the next few minutes, write down every reason you can think of for the failure […]. Then, revisit your plans in light of the pitfalls you've uncovered, and generate ideas as to how you can minimize their likelihood of occurring or avoid them altogether". Klein also recommends the team periodically review their premortem list of potential issues and resolutions as they make progress through the project.

The best case scenario is for our partners to facilitate successful implementations, and our customers to have successful implementations that are well-adopted by their employees. Instead of having to learn the lessons of a failed project the hard way, consider using the premortem analysis as an early activity to help the customer and partner implementation teams build a trusting relationship, and stay flexible in their thinking throughout the project.

SAP's Organizational Change Management Framework

SAP's Organizational Change Management (OCM) framework has six dimensions, structured into work packages that contain best practice methods, tools, and templates.

The dimensions are:

  • Change Strategy outlines the direction of the change management activities for a digital transformation project. It provides the blueprint from which to manage complex changes across multiple entities, various locations and/or countries.
  • Change Leadership aims to identify and implement appropriate mechanisms for managing all individuals and groups who are affected by or can influence the success of a digital transformation project. The respective activities help to promote a shared positive attitude towards the changes.
  • Change Communication targets to provide the right message to the right people, at the right time. It is the systematic planning, implementing, monitoring, and revision of all communication activities within a digital transformation project toward the project stakeholders.
  • Change Realization includes the identification and management of changes associated with a digital transformation on the relevant stakeholder groups (e.g. regarding skills, business processes, technology, organization, and mindset). This fosters a smooth transition from the current to the future status-quo.
  • Change Enablement provides full training for the users throughout the transformation process. Role based user training will be developed and provided to meet user specific needs as the system is rolled out.
  • Change Effectiveness encompasses all activities that can be applied to measure the effectiveness of OCM activities supporting the digital transformation. It focuses on criteria such as organizational readiness, user adoption and satisfaction as well as user behavior after go-live to enhance adoption.

Resources to Support Organizational Change Management

SAP delivers several different templates and resources (what we call "accelerators") for customers and partners to use during their implementation projects to support organizational change management activities. Find the accelerators in the relevant SAP Activate Methodology for SAP S/4HANA Cloud Public Edition or Private Edition by selecting the Solution Adoption workstream, or the Organizational Change Management tag. During an implementation project, these accelerators can be downloaded from the relevant tasks via SAP Cloud ALM.


Do you need support navigating OCM in your implementation project? Purchase comprehensive change management services from SAP here.

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