Today, many organizations are working to build organizational change management capabilities and competencies, expanding the benefits of effective change management from single projects to a broader level. One move in this direction is the creation of a functional group or department to support change management - a Change Management Office. This tutorial from Prosci provides research and perspectives on the establishment of a Change Management Office, including:
Since 2011, Prosci has asked participants in the Change Management Best Practices Benchmarking study if their organization has a CMO or similar functional group. The past three studies have show that just over one-third of participants said their organization do.
This group can have many different names. Some of the most frequent names in the study included: Change Management, Change Management Office, Change Management Team, Change Management Practice, Organizational Change Management, Change Leadership and Business Change.
Regardless of the name, there are some key decisions that must be made as this functional group is introduced in an organization: where it should reside and what it should do.
Data from Prosci's benchmarking studies show both where this functional group currently lives and where participants suggested that it should live. The table below includes the top responses for where it does reside and where it should reside.
Where does it reside?
Where should it reside?
While this is the most comprehensive data available on the change management functional group, there is still much divergence around the location of the Change Management Office. The reason for this is that there is no singular "right" answer for where the group can be most effective. We have seen the Change Management Office be very effective in Human Resources (HR), and we have seen it fail in HR. We have seen the Change Management Office be very effective in the Project Management Office (PMO), and we have seen it fail in the PMO.
While there is not a universal right answer, there is a right answer for your organization. Prosci has created some key decision variables you should evaluate in light of your organization, how changes occur, its history and its values to decide on the best location for your change management functional group.
Deciding where the CMO should reside
As you create a Change Management Office - or whatever you end up calling it - it is important to find the right home by evaluating the potential locations and by determining which provides the best opportunity for success. In some cases the functional group may have several different homes as the change management capability evolves in your organization. For example, some organizations first create a CMO within IT to support those specific projects, later moving the CMO to a corporate home to support a wider scope of initiatives.
In addition to examining where it should live, the creation of a change management group also requires decisions about the function of the group or department. Again, rather than prescribing a singular charter for a Change Management Office, Prosci has collected data on a number of different roles this group can fill.
The list below captures many of these different alternatives. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of items which should all be included in your Change Management Office charter, but rather some options you should evaluate and decide upon.
As you design your Change Management Office - or whatever you end up calling it - you need to clearly define what it will be doing and what it will not be doing from a functional perspective.
It is very unlikely that upon reading this tutorial, you will be able to establish a successful Change Management Office right away. The establishment of a structural element like a Change Management Office should take place within a more holistic effort aimed at building organizational capabilities and competencies that also includes leadership, project, skill and process tactics (as described by Prosci's Enterprise Change Management Strategy Map). The broad deployment of change management across an enterprise is a project and a change, and must be managed as such.
However, if your organization is moving down the path of establishing a functional group to support change management, remember to be deliberate and intentional with your decisions about where it should live and what it should do.
Summary checklist of key considerations
Where it should live
What it should do
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.
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