A change management process should be systematic and goal-driven.
Here are a few keys to designing a successful change management workflow:
- Found it upon solid principles of change management, such as user-centrism
- Follow or adapt a change management framework
- Create a workflow that is systematic, goal-oriented, and data-driven
- Design one that is digital-first, or at least digital-friendly
Below, we will cover a rough outline that you can follow when building out your own workflow.
It should naturally be tailored to your own business situation and needs – there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all change management process.
The more you can adapt and customize these steps to your own needs, the better you will be able to apply them.
Let’s get started.
Here are three key areas to focus on during the first stage of your workflow, analysis.
To begin with, you – or people within your organization – need to identify a problem.
In many cases, the problem identifies itself. It often emerges of its own accord.
During this stage, it is important to look at the problem from a 360-degree view:
- Understand its causes and impacts upon the organization
- Predict what will happen if the problem remains unfixed
- Begin brainstorming solutions, costs, timelines, and so on
An all-around view of the problem is critical to building out a solution, which will come later.
Another key area to focus on is risks.
Every change program comes with risks, financial or otherwise.
Common risks include:
- Going over budget
- Employee or manager resistance
- Incorrect change solutions
- Failed change initiatives
- Missing target objectives
The earlier you can identify risks, the easier they will be to plan for and avoid.
- How ready are employees?
- How ready is the organization?
- Also, are business leaders ready?
Define and estimate change readiness early on.
Understand your organization’s:
- Digital maturity
- Capacity for change
- Openness to change
It is important to understand technical capacity – such as technology and infrastructure.
But it is also important to know your company culture.
How resistant will they be to your proposed solution?
Up until now, you have been analyzing the problem and brainstorming solutions.
At this point, you will need to decide on the solution and then design the change program.
How you implement the solution is very important.
Decide on the:
- Rollout Plan – Whether you will implement the solution overnight or in stages
- Communication Strategy – Define your message and how you will communicate the plan
- Onboarding Plan – Onboarding and training make a big difference in user productivity
When you have ideas for your implementation, you can create the timeline.
Your roadmap for change is your action plan.
It has a few characteristics:
- Stages – Your roadmap should consist of a series of stages, based around specific goals
- Objectives – Each objective should be measurable, with set KPIs and metrics to meet
- Timeline – As with any project, milestones and goals should have deadlines
A roadmap such as this will be a constant reference for you and your team members. It can also be used to communicate goals to employees.
It can be created in project management software, in a spreadsheet, or any other software that you use to manage tasks.
Now comes the actual implementation.
Here are a few areas to consider including in your plan:
A pilot program is a good idea, even if you decide to roll everything out all at once.
This approach is used frequently during software deployment, but it can be applied to other types of change projects as well.
Small test groups can give you immediate feedback. This feedback can then be used to address problems early on.
It can also offer insight into what works, how employees will react, and ideal ways to deploy your plan later on.
Your actual implementation will involve:
- Deployment – The installation and deployment of your change program is just the first step … you must also make sure your plan moves forward successfully
- Measurement – Gain insight into your program’s health by analyzing change management metrics, such as engagement, acceptance rate, productivity, resistance, and so on
- Learning – Measuring the information mentioned above will help you learn from that data
- Optimization – Then adjust your program as necessary
This process should be tied directly to the roadmap you created earlier.
However, it is also a cycle.
That is, you should continually measure feedback, then optimize your program – communications, training, and so forth – as necessary.
Finally, after you have completed your program, you can evaluate its performance.
A few stages to include in this part of your change management workflow include:
- Analyze – Look at all the data you collected, your performance, and your targets
- Review – Examine what worked, what the shortcomings were, and what can be improved
- Learn – Use this information to improve future change programs
- Report – Compile this information and present it to stakeholders and other relevant parties
This is an important part of the workflow. Evaluating your performance can help you get better results from future programs – and it can demonstrate the ROI of change to business leaders and stakeholders.
Your change management workflow directly impacts the effectiveness of your change program.
It can literally mean the difference between success and failure.
By approaching change systematically and carefully, you will have a better understanding of the problem.
This will, in turn, help you decide on an appropriate solution and the best way to implement that solution.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.