What is an effective approach for deploying change management? In this step-by-step approach, we will look at one way.
This method is certainly not the only way to implement organizational change.
But it does contain useful, tried-and-tested techniques, steps, and ideas.
Examine them, apply them, and tweak them as you see fit. Then you can arrive at a system that works for you in your own business.
Deploying Change Management, Step by Step
Here are a few key steps for deploying change management.
Each step includes a description, as well as some alternative approaches and things to consider.
Before beginning your implementation, it pays to analyze the problem in depth.
In other words, you must understand the problem and its causes.
Do this by collecting user data, user feedback, and information from as many sources as you can.
- Interview employees and customers
- Conduct surveys
- Review statistics relevant to your change project from key sources, such as websites, software, and products
- Examine other data sources relevant to the problem
Compile that information and review it carefully.
An all-around understanding of the problem is not just helpful, it is critical to developing the right solution.
Once you understand the problem, you can design a solution.
That solution should have a few characteristics.
It should be:
- Achievable – That is, it should not cost too much or be beyond your company’s capabilities. Consider skill limitations, technical limitations, and budget constraints.
- Reasonable – Don’t choose solutions that stretch your budget, are irrelevant, extravagant, or unhelpful. If the solution is too off-target, then the solution is not worth implementing.
- Beneficial – Finally, will the solution actually solve the problem effectively? Bandaids are not useful, and neither are solutions that don’t move the company forward.
Designing a solution requires balance.
You need to weigh the benefits and costs against your organization’s capabilities.
When you have a solution, you can begin implementing.
The first stage should be a pilot test with a select group.
A digital adoption initiative, for instance, should test new software with a small user group.
This user group can provide feedback and usage data.
This data can be used to:
- Streamline rollout
- Improve employee onboarding and training
- Prevent small problems from becoming large problems
- Increase program efficiency
Among other things.
It can also tell you whether a solution will work or not.
The last thing you want to do is fully implement a solution that cannot succeed.
Rolling out your solution can take weeks, months, or years.
The timeline, of course, depends on the nature of your change program.
A software deployment, for example, could take a few weeks to a few months, depending on scale.
When implementing your change program, your scale should be one factor that helps you decide your approach.
One important consideration is whether to roll it out overnight or incrementally.
Incremental vs. Waterfall
An incremental approach deploys solutions one step at a time.
Continuing with the example of software deployment, such a deployment could look like this:
- A pilot group tests the software
- The software is deployed company-wide, but users only use certain features
- As users become familiar and comfortable with the software, they transition gradually to the new software
- When a certain level of competency is achieved, the old software is retired
In contrast, a waterfall approach would require deployment all at once.
This approach is riskier, requiring preparation, training, and research.
Evaluate your goals and your solution to decide the right approach for you.
Even after completing your change management deployment, it is still not complete.
You need to reinforce your change program to ensure it stays permanent.
A number of factors can cause change to backslide, such as:
- Fear of change
- Employee resistance
These factors should not be underestimated – they can kill a change program either before or after it is completed.
To reinforce your program, continue:
- Collecting feedback from users
- Communicating the benefits of change
- Training and educating
- Analyzing metrics
Keep monitoring your project’s health until it is clear that the change is permanent.
After project completion, review your results.
All of the data that you collect during the project – user engagement, productivity, costs, and other metrics – should be compiled and analyzed.
This information can help you:
- Gain insight into your project
- Better understand your company, its culture, its technical capabilities, and its openness to change
- Understand what you can improve upon next time
This information can also demonstrate the value of your change program.
You can use that information to justify future change programs, demonstrate the ROI of change, and build your own portfolio of projects.
Deploying change management is no small task.
It takes time, effort, research, and preparation.
Experience is certainly helpful, which is why change management consultancies exist.
However, even if your business is small or you have no experience, don’t shy away from change projects.
Change is a necessary part of business.
The cost of not changing can be greater than the cost of inefficient change.
Use the information here – and on the rest of our change management blog – to help you get better results and ROI from your change program.
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.