Implementation Insights Blog

Implementation Management Associates help organizations around the world achieve large-scale, complex change. This blog discusses our insights into organizational change.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why Are We Installing But Not Implementing Business Changes

A few years ago, we started to notice a pattern in organizations that was affecting project Return on Investment. Organizations were very good at installing new software and all other kinds of business changes. The problem was (and is) that the project ended once the change was officially launched. Yes, installation is very important, but it just isn’t enough to produce adoption of behavior changes and project Return on Investment. You will see this pattern played out on all types of changes, including ERP and other software implementations, business process management changes, organizational restructurings, and virtually every other type of business transformational change.

This is what we call the difference between installation and implementation. When projects are stopped at the point of installation, the project team is disbanded, and the budget ends. This means that there is no oversight or management to make sure that sponsors are reinforcing the right behaviors at the local level. Change management stops short and barriers to change are not addressed.

It’s pretty easy to see why this pattern is so prevalent. First, most organizations are under high stress with far too many competing priorities for resources and budgets. There is a lot of emphasis on adhering to project schedules and budgets, but less on achieving change. Second, the formal organization reinforcements are all around installation, not implementation. Third, senior leadership is usually focused on the next business change and don’t want to invest the time and energy required for full implementation.

We are finding that the installation versus implementation dilemma resonates with project teams and business sponsors. If you are interested in our mini guide on Installation versus Implementation, contact Paula Alsher at

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Why Most Organizations Face Sponsorship Issues

The number one implementation obstacle most project teams face is how to get sponsors to do what they need. And that means what they need through all the phases of the project. Keep in mind that what you need at the beginning of the project is different from what you will need at the end of the project. We tell our clients that sponsorship is action, not the position of an individual on an organization chart. If you are looking at how to improve your change management practices, start with looking at sponsorship in your organization. It's highly likely that poor sponsorship is the biggest barrier to change you are facing. If you don't have project sponsors who are expressing, modeling and reinforcing the new behaviors, you will see less readiness for change, more resistance to change, and issues on adoption-- all of which affect your project's Return on Investment.

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