How do roles differ in Enterprise Change Management (ECM)?

Treating the ECM capability journey as a project in its own right provides structure and helps us to clarify the scope, scale and the speed of the journey. We call this 'Project ECM'. Any significant project requires distinct project-related roles that are additional to, and often distinct from, our day-to-day or business-as-usual roles. A role-based approach to individual change competency is also a vital part of building an enterprise change capability. Roles at the enterprise level are accountable for bringing a change management capability to fruition. That being said, which specific roles - and what additional skillsets within these roles - do you need to build an enterprise change management capability?

Consider the five key roles below that every change project needs to be successful. Contrast these with the roles needed when building enterprise change management capability. 


Roles for Project Application of Change Management

Roles for Enterprise Change Management

Senior Leaders

Executive Sponsor

Change Practitioner

Steering Committee

Project Managers/Teams

Core Team

People Managers

Deployment Leader

Frontline Employees

Change Champions


Change Management Trainers


1. The Executive Sponsor

As with any significant change project or initiative we would expect to see an Executive Sponsor who owns the business case. Building ECM capability is no different in that change management requires change management. The Executive Sponsor should be a senior executive who, in this instance, owns the business case for deployment of the change management discipline and development of capability across the organisation. Their active and visible sponsorship throughout the ECM journey is a critical success factor. They are accountable to the Board and stakeholders for delivery of the expected benefits from Project ECM. 


2. The Steering Committee (SteerCo)

The SteerCo (or Project Board) consists of senior leaders/stakeholders across the business who provide the necessary governance and oversight for Project ECM. Among the numerous roles it performs, it should ensure that the design of the ECM approach, and the roadmap for capability development, fit the culture and needs of the organisation as a whole. 


3. The Core Team

As with any project the availability of dedicated resources increases the likelihood of success. The Core Team for Project ECM is responsible for development of the technical side deliverables such as selecting and adapting a change management methodology, developing training curricula, or integration of change management into other processes and in-house methodologies. It is also responsible for the people side of Project ECM, i.e. the application of change management to drive adoption and use of the change management discipline across the organisation. 


4. The ECM Deployment Leader

The ECM Deployment Leader ensures that both the technical and people sides of Project ECM are progressing. They are accountable for ensuring that Project ECM is delivered as intended by the organisation. As a result, they are responsible for working with business leaders to set a future state vision for change capability, creating strategic and tactical plans to achieve that future state, implementing plans and benefits realisation.


Advanced Change Management Roles wooden pieces-jpeg


5. Project ECM Change Champions

Change Agent Networks (CANs) are becoming increasingly used to help build momentum and broad support for change. The CAN often comprises of one or more of the following:

  1. Change Champions formally trained in change management methodologies embedded in project teams, or in strategic positions, to provide support and raise awareness of Project ECM. 
  2. Impacted individuals who have a direct stake in the success of the project and are directly impacted by the change. 
  3. Creation of a hierarchy structure in which the CAN is made up of individuals across multiple levels of the organisation. 
  4. Influential leaders who are highly trusted and respected. Their active support can help drive change in their respective areas. 
One way to employ the idea of ECM Change Champions is to prepare practitioners, sponsors project teams and middle managers across a number of demonstration projects. Undertaking the Prosci Change Management Practitioner Program, for example, can provide a deep common understanding of methodology, tools and best practices. Demonstration projects serve to provide evidence for the beneficial impact of change management and provide impetus for broader adoption of the discipline. 


6. Change Management Trainers

A challenge for many organisations undertaking the ECM journey is development of the necessary competencies at scale. Effective training and coaching is essential to prepare your people to perform their change roles during projects and in support of enterprise change capability. 

Typically our approach includes some combination of direct training with development of internal trainers. This ensures the organisation has a cost-effective route to build capability. This approach combines external expertise, drawing on the experience of other organisations, with a deep understanding of the organisation's politics, culture, opportunities and challenges.


What this means for you

Enterprise Change Management takes structure and intent. As with any project or initiative, it is critical that the right roles are defined, understood and executed to give the best chance of success. When undertaking Project ECM, draw on change management best practices to ensure not only an effective technical solution for change capability but to ensure that your change management approach is adopted and used effectively. 


Download An Introduction to Change Management Guide


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