Eight steps for implementing change management on projects

Cecilia Nysing

Building an employee-backed case for change and ensuring people are committed and supportive of the change is one of the key success factors for any large transformation or project. Getting change management right is however notorious for its complexity and pitfalls – Salman Al Marzouki from Devoteam shares eight steps for implementing a successful change management approach.

1. A clear objective

Since most changes occur to improve a process, a product, or an outcome, it is critical to identify the focus and to clarify the goals. This also involves identifying the resources and individuals that will facilitate the process. 

2. The case for change

Develop a solid business case for the change, and then make sure that key stakeholders understand and support the case. There are several layers of stakeholders, and all of them have different expectations and experiences, so tailor the engagement with each layer to ensure that there is a high level of ‘buy-in’ across the spectrum. 

3. Plan for the change

Also known as the ‘change roadmap’, develop a plan that identifies the beginning, the end-state, and route to be taken to realise the change objectives. Integrate important project success pillars into plan, such as scope, resourcing, costs and timelines.

Increasingly, organisations plan their transformations in an agile manner, meaning that milestones and activities are delivered in smaller steps (known as ‘sprints’). Make sure that the change management plan provides for such a multi-step process, rather than the traditional ‘big-bang’ approach of delivering change. 

4. Plan resources

During the planning process, identifying the resources needed to deliver activities and the funds needed to support assets and investments is a crucial step. These can include infrastructure, equipment, and software systems. Also consider the tools needed for re-education, retraining, and rethinking priorities and practices. 

5. Communication

Communication is the ‘golden thread’ that runs through the entire practice of change management. Identifying, planning, onboarding, and executing a good change management plan is dependent on good communication. 

There are psychological and sociological realities inherent in group cultures. Those already involved have established skill sets, knowledge, and experiences. But they also have pecking orders, territory, and corporate customs that need to be addressed. Providing clear and open lines of communication throughout the process is a critical element in all change modalities. 

6. Manage resistance

Resistance to change is a very ‘normal’ part of a transition, but it can threaten the success of a project. Most resistance occurs due to a fear of the unknown. It also occurs because there is a fair amount of risk associated with change – the risk of impacting dependencies, return on investment risks, and risks associated with allocating budget to something new. 

Anticipating and preparing for resistance by arming leadership with tools to manage it will aid in a smooth change lifecycle. Also make sure that all employees understand the case for change, and empower ‘change ambassadors’ to be able to drive interventions that lower resistance.

7. Celebrate success

Recognising milestone achievements is an essential part of any project. When managing a change through its lifecycle, it’s important to recognise the success of teams and individuals involved. This will help in the adoption of both the management process as well as adoption of the change itself. 

8. Continuous improvement

As much as change is difficult and even painful, it is also an ongoing process. Even change management strategies are commonly adjusted throughout a project. Like communication, this should be woven through all steps to identify and remove roadblocks. Based the adjustments on fact-based data derived from measurement and analysis.

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