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3 Benefits of a Business Case for Change Management

In brief: Writing a business case for change management provides three main benefits - telling your whole story, building credibility and prompting action.

 

A business case is a document that captures the reasoning for initiating a project or task to convince a decision maker to take action. Usually a well-structured, formal document, the business case tells the story of an initiative - from beginning (what problem or situation triggered the initiative) to end (what benefit, value or return is expected). Business cases are typically written at the project or initiative level as a way to secure funding and commitment.

However, the business case can also be a valuable tool for change management practitioners working to build buy-in and gain commitment from senior leaders and project leaders. Using a business case to present change management has three main benefits as presented in this tutorial:

  1. Telling your whole story

  2. Building credibility

  3. Prompting action

 

1.  Tell your whole story

The business case tells the complete story of the effort - from beginning to end. Putting change management into a business case lets you emphasize some important elements of the "whole story" in a single place. There are two main questions that change management practitioners face that can be answered while telling your whole story in a business case:

What is the value of change management? Although the recognition of the value of change management has been growing over the last several years, practitioners are often faced with justifying the value they provide to project leaders and senior leaders, particularly when asking for budget and resources. The Situational Assessment and Problem Statement portion of the business case is your opportunity to make a direct connection between managing the people side of change to drive adoption, usage and the overall benefits or results of the project. This section of the business case is the backdrop, and it provides critical context for the need for change management with a direct tie to project benefit realization.

What does it really mean to apply change management? There are various perceptions about what change management means. Unless they have seen first hand, your senior leaders and project leaders may still wonder what "applying a structured change management approach" means for their particular project. In the Solution Description and Project Description sections of the business case, you clearly explain what you will be doing when you apply change management on the project. Using common elements - such as scope, objectives, work streams, milestones and deliverables - you can help senior leaders and project leaders see and understand what it really means to apply change management.

Since the business case tells the whole story - from beginning to end - it is a valuable vehicle for presenting why change management is necessary and what you will do, in context of the overall project.

 

2.  Build credibility

In some circles, change management carries the stigma of being the "soft" side of change (even though research and experience shows that building adoption and usage is often more challenging than designing a process or developing a technology). Over the past decade, change management practitioners have gained credibility by approaching the people side of change with more rigor and structure. Concrete tools and deliverables have made change management feel more "serious" and contributed to a higher perceived value.

The business case is another opportunity to build credibility for change management, especially with project leaders and senior leaders who may not recognize the need for or value of change management. By applying the structure of a business case, you gain credibility. The exercise of writing the business case also builds credibility. Finally, capturing the rationale and approach in the specific sections and structure of the business case (from the Executive Summary through to the Conclusions and Recommendations), shows that you are thinking critically about the people side of change, and that leaders should also think critically about change management.

 

3.  Prompt action

The end result of a business case is a decision - often around funding or commitment to move forward. Your business case for change management is no different. Now that you have connected the people side of change to project results (in the Situational Assessment and Problem Statement section), outlined your approach (in the Solution Description, Project Description and Implementation Timeline sections) and demonstrated the tradeoff (in the Cost-Benefit Analysis section), you are ready to make your request.

First - understand what you are asking for - Commitment? A dedicated resource? Budget? A seat at the table? Second - ask for it! Your business case concludes with recommendations and this is your chance, based on the sound story you have told, to ask for the support you need.

 

Conclusion

The business case is a commonly used tool for capturing the reasoning behind a project or task and mobilizing commitment and action. Change management practitioners can use the business case as a format to tell their whole story, build credibility and prompt action.

 

 

 


 

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Offerings for applying Prosci's change management methodologies:

Licensing:

  • Prosci's site licenses are a great solution for building change management capabilities and competencies throughout your organization. With a site license, you can customize and integrate Prosci’s world-leading research and methodologies to fit your organization and begin building the individual competencies necessary for true change capability. Contact a Prosci Account Manager at +1-970-203-9332 or changemanagement@prosci.com to discuss your change management needs and how Prosci's research-based, holistic, easy-to-use solutions can work for you.

Training:

  • Change management certification ($2800) - attend Prosci's 3-day certification program where you bring your own current change project to the session and learn to use Prosci’s tools through practical application – taught by former fortune 500 executives at locations across the US - includes over $1000 in products, including the Best Practices in Change Management benchmarking report, the Change Management Toolkit and the Change Management Pilot Pro 2012
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Methodology tools:

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References and books:

  • Best Practices in Change Management benchmarking report ($289 / quantity discounts available) - journal-style report with lessons learned and best practices from 650 participants, presented in an easy-to-use format - reads as a checklist of what to do and what not to do
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*** Prosci also offers leadership packages - groupings of products at discounts that offer you some of the most helpful and common combinations of Prosci change management resources

 

 

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