How should you structure your internal change management organization, staff it and operate it? There is no one right answer because the operating model will vary depending on your business, your needs and your experience. Based on our research, the following questions and considerations are especially important in constructing the model right for you:
Strategic or project-oriented?
Do you want your change organization working primarily on the most strategic initiatives of the company, or is the intention to have it support specific projects? Or both? Companies we have worked with and studied have taken different approaches. One global beverage company, for example, provides strategic change support through an organizational development unit linked to the HR function, with tactical change typically being dealt with separately on a project-by-project basis within the rest of the business.
By contrast, a global corporate bank has a change delivery function that focuses on change programs of all types using a portfolio approach. The change team provides different levels of resourcing, support and governance depending on the specific program. For example:
High-impact programs that require global consistency are planned and managed with one team, one plan and one budget through the center of excellence.
For programs that require coordination rather than global consistency, the change function serves as a steering committee providing centralized governance and oversight. However, the individual programs are responsible for providing their own change resources and are accountable for the delivery of goals set by the central governance team.
For large programs with multiple delivery streams, the center of excellence provides program managers who serve as change delivery leads for the programs and work closely with teams from the business domains to execute the change.
Enterprise-wide or business-unit focused?
Will your center of excellence focus on serving the entire enterprise, or does the structure of your business dictate that the change organization will focus rather on particular business units? One global chemicals company built a mixed internal and external change service to support projects run by its enterprisewide IT organization. By contrast, a high-tech organization we studied established a capability to deliver a coordinated and consistent change effort for a major program (consisting of several projects) for just one of its business units, with the view to potentially expand later to other areas of the organization.
Change-related activities or a broader agenda?
Will your center of excellence focus primarily on delivering change-related support activities or will it take on additional roles in areas such as project management? An international bank with a global change-delivery function provides skills and services in project and program management, as well as change management expertise. By contrast, a global resource company’s change function focuses on strategic and large-scale change efforts, providing high-end change-related services such as visioning and change strategy rather than specific program management skills.
Internal or external staffing?
Will resources for your center of excellence be recruited and trained internally or will they be supplemented by third parties? A global technology company contracted with a team of third-party resources to not only establish the change organization but also train internal employees. This built a foundation for internal knowledge and prepared the company’s team to take the reins.
One of the benefits of an operating model that incorporates trusted third parties is that it enables staffing on demand—a kind of “change management as a service” model. At the resources company mentioned earlier, one of its units has proposed an organization structure for its center of excellence that includes core roles as well as others that can be used in a variable manner according to level of demand, leveraging both onshore and offshore resourcing options depending on requirements.