Skip to content

Excelerate Consulting | Change Management Experts

Guide To Change Risk Assessment

  • by
Guide To Change Risk AssessmentGuide To Change Risk Assessment

Change risk management includes factors that might cause a project not to achieve its desired results. Leaders need to attend to people’s issues throughout the whole change process. A common mistake many leaders make is treating the early stages of recognizing the need for change and diagnosing what needs to be changed as technical activities that can be managed with no reference to those who might be affected by the change.

Risk assessment in project management involves taking a look at data points of a project and change management in project management in order to identify areas where failure to meet goals and objectives may be indicated.

For a project to succeed, technical deployment and user adoption of the project solution are important. The following guide to change risk assessment provides you with a complete step-by-step overview of the most common types of project and change management risks that will impact your project and how best to tackle them.

What Is Change Risk Assessment?

Change Risk Assessment involves individuals, like managers, stakeholders, leaders, etc., associated with the change management project to communicate the risks to people who will be affected by the change.

This process requires team members to prepare and ask critical questions to pass the changes implemented by the change management program. Generally, organizations focus on cost, services, and individuals affected by the change.

Simply put, the success of every project depends on two major factors; the solution’s quality and the solution’s acceptance and adoption. The factors involved in change management risks inhibit or prevent the acceptance or adoption of a solution. These risks may involve individuals who are connected to or involved with the solution – both employees and leaders. 

As stated above, the questions prepared by the change management team should be focused on categories like people affected, costs, and services. Typically, the questions are tailored for each organization to better understand and implement changes. 

Common Risks Faced During Project Risk Assessment

Change management is critical to ensure that the project is meeting its objectives, and therefore, a risk assessment should be conducted with an understanding that change management risks create project risks, and vice versa; both are intertwined. To understand this relationship better, you need to ask the right questions focusing on deliverables, such as; are tasks being fulfilled? Are all teams working together? Or is something being left behind? Etc.

Some common risks in project management risk assessment include:

  • Not including change managers in the project management settings.
  • Lacking a project charter to manage the project.
  • Lack of adequate project management resources.
  • Lack of confirmation of a new solution being tested thoroughly before it is released.
  • Lack of a communication plan for affected group communications.
  • Lack of opposition management scheme.
  • Budgeting risk of the entire project.
  • Lack of leadership support.
  • Not having stakeholder influence.

Role Of Leadership In Change Management

Leadership is widely regarded as the key enabler of the change process, but there appears to be a considerable debate when it comes to what constitutes good leadership. In times of change, managerial work is increasingly a leadership task, examining what leaders have to do to deliver successful change and considering the view that leadership needs to be viewed as a collective process.

While management and leadership are distinct activities, they are complementary, and both are necessary for success in a changing business environment. According to Kotter, “Managers are the people who are in the best position to provide the leadership required to ensure that a change will be successful. 

However, to provide this kind of leadership, they must recognize that the role involves dual responsibilities when it comes to management – keeping the system operating effectively – and leadership – revitalizing and renewing the system to ensure that it will remain effective over the longer term.”

Following are the tasks that leaders need to perform in order to ensure change success:

  1. Sensemaking: Make sense of the world and identify the opportunities and threats that require attention. 
  2. Visioning: Identify a vision of what a more desirable state of affairs might look like and what needs to be done to move toward this better future.
  3. Sense giving: Communicate the vision to a wider audience and respond to feedback as required to win commitment to the change.
  4. Aligning: Promote a shared direction, so people work together to achieve a common vision.
  5. Enabling: Remove obstacles and create the conditions that empower others to implement the change.
  6. Supporting: Recognize and respond to the concerns of those affected by the change
  7. Maintaining momentum and sustaining change: Show commitment and ‘walk the talk’ – demonstrating that they are prepared to change their behavior as well – to keep people focused on the change. 

There are many ways in which change leaders can work with others to facilitate change, and the most effective way might be different at different points in the change-risk relationship.

Role Of Stakeholder Management

Another important role to discuss in our guide to change risk assessment is stakeholder management. Leaders need to be able to identify those stakeholders who can influence the outcome of the change. A stakeholder is any individual or group who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organization’s objectives.

To influence support, managers and leaders need to follow the guidelines mentioned below:

  • Win the support of stakeholders that oppose the change and use your power to influence the outcome.
  • Increase the influence of supportive stakeholders.
  • Reduce the influence of powerful blockers. Managers can do this by marginalizing them from the decision-making process by working to ensure that they are not members of the committee or group that has to sanction the change.
  • Build a coalition of supportive stakeholders who are willing to work together to support the change.
  • Fragment existing coalitions that are opposed to the change.
  • Bring new sponsors into play.

How To Assess The Risk Of A Change

Managers responsible for sponsoring, developing, and implementing a change should adequately communicate the identified risks. Change managers need to collect contextual information regarding the reasons and circumstances of a change and the risks involved. 

Although there are many questions they could ask, the following five are the most effective:

  1. What and how many teams are involved in implementing the change?
  2. Was the change implemented before? If so, what was the degree of success?
  3. What research and evidence was gathered to test the success of the change?
  4. Can the change be implemented internally, or is a service outage required? 
  5. What service outages and costs will be involved to reverse the change if it fails?

Summary And Conclusion 

If you don’t incorporate risk assessment into your project strategy, you run the risk of not meeting your project goals and objectives. Thus, risk in project management should be expected and monitored before it’s delivered.   

Communication plays an important role in all individuals’ issues with change, such as leading, managing stakeholders, motivating, and supporting others. For example, leaders need to be effective communicators because, among other things, they have to convey a compelling vision of a better future, inspire and motivate others to implement the changes, align their efforts by communicating a shared understanding of what needs to be done, and provide the feedback required to sustain the change.

We hope our guide to change risk assessment helps you identify key areas of change and increase user adoption.