Martin Taylor

About Martin Taylor

Martin has over 20 years experience delivering effective change in a number of different sectors. His background is in finance and financial systems implementations and he is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

He has developed the chaMP© Change Management Planning framework, which has been used in many major business changes. The thinking and motivation for this originated from undertaking a Masters Degree in Change Management, focussing on strategic change, cultural change and leadership.

His other professional memberships include the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Chartered Institute of Management, Association for Project Management and the British Computer Society.

Why does project management fail?

With many businesses facing major challenges that require solutions to be identified and put into practice, it is essential that organisational leaders focus on how to deliver the required business change and move away from the traditional project management approach.

There is a very important difference here; the project management mind set deals with the specific process, product or service that is being delivered (for example new computer software), whilst a business change mind set focuses on the impacts of implementing the process, product or service. This lack of focus on the impacts of change is one of the main reasons why so many projects fail to provide the desired business change and benefits.

Project Failures
Recent research would suggest that project failures – defined as over time and/or budget, not delivering original objectives or cancelled – are still between 30% and 65%. This is extremely high, despite apparent improvements in programme and project management techniques, software and governance requirements. The reasons stated for this high failure rate are more related to the process and people aspects, including poor leadership, lack of senior management sponsorship and support, poor stakeholder engagement and management and lack of user involvement. Specific project management issues include poor planning, unrealistic timescales, poor requirements specifications, scope creep and poor testing.

Case Study
The Mobile Information Programme initiated by the Home Office for the Police Force ran from 2008 to 2011 and was intended to deliver specific business change. The programme’s intentions were clear: increase police officer visibility on the street by reducing bureaucracy: utilising hand-held and in-car mobile devices and software solutions. Many of the intended benefits have never been realised and one of the main reasons for this is the adoption of a project management approach and not focusing on the process and people impacts of undertaking the change. In this example the technology was the easier element to implement. It was the process and people aspects that were the most complex and difficult to deliver. The business change requirements were highlighted repeatedly through the programme but not understood and invariably the wrong type of resource was deployed to deliver this critical role. What was considered at the time as a cost saving, in terms of deploying available resource, proved to be one of the reasons why the benefits were not realised.

A recent National Audit Office report has criticised this programme for not achieving value for money and highlighted that “too little consideration was given to the need for the devices or how they would be used”. The report went on to suggest that “there is still the opportunity to achieve value for money, though, if more forces use the technology to improve the efficiency of their processes and make savings in their back-office activities”.

Holistic Approach
From our experience it is essential to adopt a holistic approach to organisational changes, integrating them with the overall business strategy and objectives to ensure their achievement will move the organisation in the desired direction. This can be undertaken using a simple scoring matrix to determine which changes really fit with the overall business objectives – if they do not then ask yourself why you are doing them.

This overall approach must focus on process, people and technology aspects and in particular the impacts on each of these elements.

Successful change requires engagement with all stakeholders, detailed planning to define timescales, resources, impacts and expectations and successful delivery to ensure the benefits of the change are realised. To facilitate successful change requires:

  •  shared vision and strategy
  • effective leadership and management
  • a culture that supports and embraces change, with employee participation and involvement
  • on-going effective communication
  • focus on fewer, strategic, changes
  • adopt a consistent approach for introducing and embedding change

We have successfully used the above approach to identify current strengths and opportunities for different organisations to improve their ability to deliver effective business change. We then use a structured framework for introducing and embedding specific business changes, which is described below.

Business Change Delivery Framework
We have developed a framework for ensuring business change is delivered effectively, focusing on the impacts in a structured way. The main elements of the framework are;

  • Business Change Specification, Sign-Off and Sponsorship
    • Specification and agreement through organisational process
    • Executive sponsorship
  • Business Strategy and Objectives Link
    • Clear linkages to overall business strategy and objectives
  • Impacts of Change
    • Process impacts
    • People impacts
    • Technology impacts
  • Planning and Delivering the Change
    • Stakeholder engagement and management
    • Communications plan (linked to stakeholder plan)
    • Resources plan
    • Risk plan
    • Training plan
    • Test/pilot plan
    • Security plan
    • Implementation plan
  • Progress Review
    • Strategic Board
    • Project Team
    • Post-change review and learning

This framework has been used to deliver many successful business changes, including major process improvements, software application deployments, IT strategy and post-acquisition business integration.

Consultancy Context
It would seem that the requirements to deliver successful business change are still not fully understood and organisations are still adopting traditional programme and project approaches that are continuing to produce high failure rates. As a consultant working in this area I want to help organisations by improving their understanding and therefore success in delivering change. People are concerned about change and want to know how it is going to impact them, their role and future. So the people side of change is a major consideration and often overlooked or underestimated.

Because change affects so many areas, as a consultant, it is important to have a solid commercial background as well as specific programme, project and change management skills underpinned by professional memberships, such as the Association for Project Management. Change management understanding and skills are essential to ensure a rounded approach and there are many courses available to gain this insight. IT underpins and enables much business change and again a good understanding in this area is essential. The Chartered Institute for IT (British Computer Society) is a good source of information and courses and has different membership levels available.

Knowledge of techniques and frameworks is required but a flexible approach, recognising different cultures and the needs of the organisation and its people is essential. Remember it is the focus on the process, people and technology impacts that will make the difference to delivering successful change.

Contact Details
For further information look on or contact Martin Taylor on 0845 270 3932.