What is Change Management?

Agility! Efficiency! Synergy! These are buzz words you have certainly heard in your organizations as Tech companies try to keep up with the lightning pace of change in a highly fluid sector. While these are important priorities to stay competitive and relevant, companies often overlook the actual mechanics of change.

How can a new process, tool, or program make us more agile, build efficiencies and create synergies if no one is ready for it? What is the net impact of change if we don’t take the time to understand the flaws of the as-is and the benefits of the to-be? Change management is the building block of progress and an often-overlooked foundation.

The Change Management paradigm is heavily embedded in Project Management and draws from several disciplines including psychology, behavioral science, and business management. The basic principle is that change doesn’t happen in a vacuum, every action has reverberating effects for your organization. Change Management seeks to apply a methodology to how changes, both big and small, are implemented to ensure that change is impactful.

The 4 Basic Principles of Change Management

Understand Change

Successful implementation requires that those driving the change fully understand the objective. It is so important that organizations take the time to vet change, ensure that the approach solves the problem at hand and that the path to get there is clear.

      • Problem Statement
      • Objective
      • Benefits

Plan Change

Planning change will vary across organizations but generally, a robust change management plan relies on project management principles to ensure that the scope of the change is fully documented and that the impacted audiences are poised to land the change

      • Obtain Executive Sponsorship
      • Define Change RnR
      • Seek buy-in through identifying and resolving risks, issues, dependencies
      • Establish KPIs and measurements of success
A person planning their change management efforts in a calendar.

Implement Change 

Be mindful that change impacts real people, real people who often prefer the status quo. Successful implementation requires that the change plan fully assesses both the nature of the change and the full scope of execution

      • Develop Work Back Schedules
      • Provide a clear view of the as-is and the to-be processes
      • Meet regularly with Key SHs to vet and mitigate implications of change
      • Identify training & readiness needs to land the change

Communicate Change 

Communication is the most critical factor in a good change management plan. While the level of information provided will be audience-specific, a 3-pronged approach to communication is a good rule of thumb:

      •  Tell Them – At least one month before a change is implemented tell your audience what is coming their way. Provide a high-level summary of what’s changing and the value prop for them
      • Tell them you told them – At least 2 weeks before a change is implemented, circle back with your audience to ‘double-click’ on the change. What does the actual new process look like, what pre-read materials are available, where can they take questions?
      • Tell them again – Nearer to your actual go-live it is critical to not stop engaging your audience, do not assume they read the previous communications. Summarize the change again for them, reiterate the value prop, provide the new process and all related training & resources they need to onboard.

Why is Change Management Important?

Organizations will reap the maximum benefit of change only through a structured & meticulously planned initiative. Pausing to focus on landing the change has reverberating impacts:

Aligning resources & funding: Taking the time to plan, communicate, evangelize and get broad buy-in on change minimizes the risk of competing priorities and wasted efforts. Ensures that the work is aligned with overarching goals and that decisions are not made in isolation.

Reduces implementation time & minimizes disruption: Change management helps us understand the impact of a change and the level of effort required to land. Thoughtful planning helps reveal contingencies and develop cutover plans to minimize impacts to employees & customers

Evangelizes benefits & minimizes pushback: Having a change management plan requires clear communication of change. This is a critical element for successful change as it brings people along on the journey. Ensures that the audience does not feel anxiety about the uncertainty of newness and gives them tools to maintain productivity, morale, and

A group of employees meeting to discuss their change management strategies using a whiteboard.

How can you build better Change Management practices in your organization?

The path to better change management starts with putting a priority on meaningful change. We must shift our focus from fast to accurate, from retroactive to proactive. Shifting an organizational mindset to understand that agility, efficiency, and synergy are born out of thoughtful change planning is critical. Let’s slow down, structure up, and do the work to ensure that change is for the benefit of our employees, customers, and our bottom line.

Jamey Thom is a Readiness Project Manager at Affirma.

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