Are MSPs or CoEs right for your organization?

I remember being on large projects in the early 2000s when clients — and even colleagues — would ask, “What is change management?” It seemed like part of my job was to justify the very existence of change management on the project.

These discussions eventually morphed into “yes, and” conversations. Most times, the conversation went something like this:

Client: “I know what change management is. Change management is communications and training.”

Me: “Yes, communications and training are usually parts of a change management solution. But it’s more, including determining stakeholder impacts, addressing employee motivation, and identifying and changing key behaviors.”

Today, most business professionals have a more sophisticated view of change management and its value. It’s now common for transformation, tech change, and M&A projects to have a dedicated behavioral change management focus. Project-based change management is still the most common model, however…

Many Fortune 500 companies are moving away from individual project decisions and toward a new model.

Two models are gaining momentum: building internal capability through a Change Management Center of Excellence and forging a managed services partnership with a single consulting firm. Emerson Human Capital helps clients build change centers of excellence and serves as a change management managed service provider.

 Change Management Center of Excellence (CoE)

What It Is and How It Works

A Change Management CoE is a team or department made up of employees who advise and execute change within a particular company.

CoEs are usually launched because there is a steady flow of projects that require change management. CoE team members are often the ones doing the change management work on projects. Other times, the Change Management CoE is more focused on project intake and centrally sourcing change needs to a handful of external consultancies. Some companies even have a very light touch CoE that is more focused on building a baseline level of change competency in an extended team or Community of Practice.

While the models and team sizes can vary, virtually every CoE designs, builds, and/or curates a change management methodology complete with common tools, templates, and examples.

What It Gives You

  • Change Management on Demand – If there is an ongoing need for change management across departments and/or projects, an internal CoE is always ready to deliver.
  • Self-Reliance – Once it’s up and running, it’s easier and more effective to work with an internal unit rather than a series of external partners.
  • Cost Savings – Employee resources often cost less than external consultants.
  • Consistent Outcomes – Common methods and tools across enterprise projects drive consistent change management and project outcomes.

Managed Service Provider (MSP)

What It Is and How It Works

A change management managed service provider or outsourcing model means having a designated partner/company for change management. The managed service provider or partner executes change management across projects for the client company. The company pays for change management as a service and evaluates performance against designed service level agreements.

What It Gives You

  • Change Management on Demand – If there is an ongoing need for change management across departments and/or projects, an MSP is poised to deliver.
  • Strategic Priorities – Many organizations would rather invest in core capabilities than in a non-core function such as change management. In that case, an MSP makes more sense than a CoE.
  • Consistent Outcomes – A single partner across projects, using common methods, tools, and service level agreements, drives reliable project outcomes.
  • Agility – Employees are often fixed costs but change management demand is dynamic. A managed service partner arrangement makes it easy to flex up or down to meet current project demand.
  • Innovation – Employees can be limited by what they know. Expert firms or managed service partners leverage the latest thinking and practices around change management and learning.
  • Cost Savings – A managed service agreement is usually cheaper than ad-hoc consultant contracts.

Change management has come a long way since the dawn of the millennium. Companies are maturing on change management. Some are realizing that the traditional consulting model is not necessarily the best way for companies to manage change.

BTW, Emerson Human Capital wrote the book on change, literally. We’ve seen it all, and we know how to partner with you for the best outcomes.

Whether you are just starting your change management journey or are deep in the throes of change, we’d love to talk with you.