Organizations today are facing, and creating, more change than ever before. The frequency, number, size and importance of change all continue to increase. Senior leaders are focused on making the right decisions and investments with limited capital.
Project teams are consumed with finding the right solution to the opportunity or issue they are addressing with their projects. Managers and supervisors are working to keep the business running while implementing changes to how that work gets done. The unfortunate reality, though, is that no one is keeping tabs on all of the changes happening - the portfolio of change. Front-line employees are often the only ones who know how much change is actually occurring because they are the ones who encounter it each and every day.
In an effort to address this common and sometimes costly situation, Prosci has developed a process and set of tools for managing the portfolio of change. While there is no silver bullet, the approach highlighted below (and presented in full in the Change Portfolio Toolkit) can help organizations to understand, evaluate and manage the portfolio of changes they face.
Change Portfolio Management is the structured approach and set of tools for understanding, evaluating and managing the portfolio of change. It involves taking an inventory of the changes underway and their impact. Some headway has been made in what is being called Project Portfolio Management, but these efforts are often limited to tracking the timing, scope and resource needs of project teams across multiple projects. Change Portfolio Management is different - it aims to show the cumulative and collective impact of the changes in the portfolio on the people throughout the organization.
There are a number of reasons organizations need an approach for managing the portfolio of change underway. The most common reasons for such an approach include:
Prosci's Change Portfolio Management Process is pictured on the left. It involves five distinct phases - 1) Identify, 2) Investigate, 3) Analyze, 4) Act and 5) Monitor. The process provides specific, concrete activities for evaluating, understanding and managing the portfolio of change.
The goal of the process is not to arrive at a single, numeric value for the quantity of initiatives that the organization can tolerate. Rather, the goal of Change Portfolio Management is to bring clarity and visibility to the portfolio of change currently underway. With a better view and more concrete data about the portfolio, senior leaders and the organization are in a better position to prioritize and to mitigate the consequences of change saturation and change collision.
The Change Portfolio Toolkit includes a complete set of activities and tools to support the Change Portfolio Management Process.
The Identify phase is about setting the parameters for the portfolio analysis. It includes establishing the scope of the portfolio analysis, which could be the entire organization but could also be smaller in nature - looking at changes that impact a particular department, division, region or type/source of change (for instance, changes initiated by the IT group). The Identify phase involves looking for both project and non-project change occurring throughout the organization - starting with the "usual suspects" who initiate many changes. Finally, a schematic of organizational groups is created to enable mapping of changes to the impacted groups.
Tools you should use to support the Identify phase include:
The Investigate phase involves collecting and generating data on the changes in the portfolio. The first step is collecting a common set of information on each initiative in the portfolio - including budget, timeline and key players for each change effort. A series of assessments allow you to gauge the change management risk and the overall project health of each change in the portfolio. Finally, a mapping exercise is used to show which groups in the organization are impacted by each of the changes in the portfolio using the Group Impact Matrix. A key benefit of this phase is the collection of a common set of data for each and every change in the portfolio.
Tools you should use to support the Investigate phase include:
The Analyze phase is where conclusions about the portfolio are reached. Heat Maps are created which show a graphic depiction of change impact and the overall level of change disruption and saturation on groups throughout the organization. Plots are used to provide numerous perspectives on the portfolio and its current status. All of the data form the Investigate phase is analyzed and computed using the Portfolio Dashboard - which captures in a single snapshot the positioning and risk of the portfolio.
Tools you should use to support the Analyze phase include:
The Act phase move from analysis to action. Here, risks to projects, groups, points in time and the organization as a whole are identified. The portfolio is presented to key business leaders and others in the organization who need a portfolio view of the change underway. Conclusions and decisions on how to adjust the portfolio are made based on the information provided through the process.
Tools you should use to support the Act phase include:
The final phase involves bringing the portfolio perspective into how the organization manages change efforts on an ongoing basis. Particular attention is paid to how changes enter and exit the portfolio, and what lessons the organization can learn by taking an enterprise perspective. As changes are evaluated and introduced, the impact on the overall portfolio is evaluated. As changes exit the portfolio, analysis on the outcomes and lessons learned is conducted.
Tools you should use to support the Monitor, Manage and Control phase:
A holistic process for managing the portfolio of change does not magically solve the problem of change collision and change saturation. However, following this process provides a new perspective and view of the portfolio - one that is missing in most organizations. Individuals, groups, projects and the organization all benefit when the portfolio of change is more actively evaluated and managed.
Tim Creasey is Prosci’s Chief Innovation Officer and a globally recognized leader in change management. His work forms the foundation of the largest body of knowledge in the world on managing the people side of change to deliver organizational results.