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Risks Associated With Change

In Parts 2 & 3 we looked at ‘Areas for Change’ and ‘Why Change’, the next area to discuss are the risks associated with change.  There will be many but there will always be a solution, some will be easy to identify and implement, whilst others will be more challenging. A risk in a project sense is an outcome that causes a change whether that change has a benefit or adverse effect on the running of a business. Each change made is a risk.

The main risks with change can be summarised as:

  • People
  • Benefits
  • Processes
  • Management

There are others that I would be happy to discuss individually.


Being able to manage the aspirations of individuals and groups of individuals is the single biggest challenge of a change project, this is where strong leadership is required.  Mapping out Stakeholders and where the fall in relation to the change project is essential to the ‘people’ aspect.  Identifying their concerns, needs and wants against perceived benefits and actionable outputs of a change project is essential.

I’m well aware of the complex nature that people bring to a change project. Having been involved in change projects in Afghanistan where the stakeholders were the NATO Coalition Forces, Foreign Government Organisations, Non-Government Organisations, the United Nations, Charitable Organisations and the Afghan Government, with cultural and linguistic issues to overcome. Therefore getting everyone to agree on policy with actionable outputs and benefits can be challenging.

Whilst this may seem like an extreme example the process involved for managing people is similar, regardless of organisation or organisations involved.  People risk management both up and down is a key part of managing the biggest risk to a change project.  Ensuring that the change team has the correct structure, leadership and sponsor support assists greatly with a change project.  Without this support to the change team they will become side lined as personalities and egos take over from identified benefits and improvements leading to a high risk of failure of the change project.

‘Change is easy, changing people is difficult’.  We’re all comfortable with what we know, it is human nature.  However, if you can begin to change the mind set of ‘people’ then change becomes a far easier process.

For further discussion on this topic, check out our white paper on guaranteeing the safety of your staff while saving thousands.


Detailing the perceived benefits and using this as the reasoning behind any investment in a change project will present its own unique sets of risks, issues and problems. This is where you have hung your hat to say ‘if we do this then the benefits that we will see will be’. However if the benefits do not materialise then you’re in trouble. Mapping out primary and then secondary or even tertiary benefits is a useful task, this allows the change manager to map out his benefits realisation time line and have a benefits management strategy right from the start which can be then used to firstly justify the change project and then used to brief senior management on progress. It has the benefit of being a tool that can be used to keep a change project on track.


As with any change the way that business activities are conducted will change. It is essential that business processes are modified and updated to keep pace with the change. This is a boring task but without it any benefits will be quickly lost as the ‘people risk’ aspect of a business goes back to what they were used to and were more comfortable with. Consider downloading our white paper on boosting productivity for your business to find out more.


An effective risk management strategy set up and planned with risk management documentation is key. Even a simple risk scoring policy that allows risk to be prioritised is better than nothing. Ensuring that the correct level and fidelity of data made available to enable change greatly assists with the management and understanding of risk. Telematics as the enabler allows the change team to view and assess a number of business areas (part two) simultaneously to identify areas for improvement, whilst being able to manage the people within the change process with real-time information.

All risk, issues and problems must be identified, understood, allocated, managed and mitigated to ensure a successful change project outcome.

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