Change management is the systematic approach to the transition or transformation of an organization’s goals, processes or technologies to ensure effective and successful implementation, monitor pre- and post- change activities, and help people within the organization to adapt to the new standards. Organizational change can be either adaptive or transformational.
- Adaptive changes are small, gradual, iterative changes to improve an organization’s products, processes, workflows, and/or strategies over time.
- Transformational changes are large in scale and scope. They are often significant and radical changes that stray from the organization’s status quo.
A common use of change management strategy is used to track changes made to an IT department’s hardware infrastructure. These changes made to hardware settings, also called a configuration management (CM) is used to review and verify the effects of a change in one system on other systems.
Significant organizational change can be quite challenging and often requires collaboration on many labels involving different entities and individuals. Developing a structured approach is the key to ensuring a smooth and beneficial transition. For a change management strategy to be effective, it must consider how the change, whether an adjustment or replacement, will impact operations and the stakeholders of the organizations (employees, leadership, investors, etc.). There must be a detailed process to plan, test, communicate, schedule, implement, document and evaluate change. Documentation, especially, is crucial, not only for auditing purposes but also to remain compliant with internal and external controls.
When developing a change management strategy, it is important to pay special attention to the following key project areas:
- Scope: How will the change affect the project scope?
- Schedule: What is the timeline of the change request? How will this timeline affect the overall organizational schedule?
- Costs: What is the cost of the change? Labor is typically the largest expense on a project, and should be planned immaculately.
- Quality: What is the quality of work needed to reach the desired change goals? An acceleration of the project schedule, in particular, can affect quality as defects can occur if work is rushed.
- Human resources: Is additional or specialized labor required? It is important to know which departments and employees will be needed to complete the project and whether external resources need to be hired in order to prevent day-to-day organization from being impacted.
- Communications: The change strategy needs to be communicated to all stakeholders involved in a clear and timely manner.
- Risk: What are the risks of implementing the change management project in question? Even minor changes can have a domino effect on the project and introduce logistical, financial or security risks.
- Procurement: What materials and/or contract labor is needed for the project?
Here are 5 steps in change management that your organization can benefit from:
1. Prepare the company for change
To successfully implement change, a company must be logistically and culturally prepared. The initial preparation phase focuses on the latter and aims to raise awareness on the various challenges the organization is facing that are acting as forces of change and an overall dissatisfaction with the status quo.
2. Craft a vision and develop a plan
Once the organization is culturally ready for change, a well developed logistic plan focused on strategic goals, performance metrics, project team and stakeholders, and scope needs to be developed. While a well structured plan is crucial, this plan should also account for potential challenges and attempt to predict other unknown factors that might affect the project.
Empower employees and offer resources to tackle any potential challenges during the implementation process. It is imperative to keep an open line of communication while your change project is underway and to document each step.
4. Reinforce practice by embedding changes within company culture and practices
Once changes have been implemented, one of the biggest challenges in maintaining them is employees’ tendency to revert back to the status quo over time. Prevent any setbacks by reinforcing the new standard practices and embedding these changes within company culture and everyday operations.
5. Track progress and analyze results
For lasting success, continue tracking your organization’s response to changes after initial implementation. You can use this data to determine response patterns and what change management practices prove effective for future change management projects.