The Change Management Process: Every Step, Model, & Solution

Ron Ause
September 16, 2022
9 minute read

 

What Is Change Management?

Making changes to the way a company or agency operates can be daunting. Before making any changes to processes that may impact multiple departments or teams, it's important to have a clear understanding of what change management is and when it should be used. Change management is characterized as a systematic approach to managing changes in organizations or large teams. In other words, it's a process that helps manage the changes that occur in a company or agency. Of course, this is far easier said than done, as there are many factors that go into deciding whether or not to implement a change management plan.

In this article, we'll answer questions including:

  • What is the change management process?
  • What are the different types of change management?
  • What is a change management plan?
  • What are some common challenges with change management?
  • What is change management in project management?

By the end, you should have a better understanding of what change management is and whether or not it's right for your organization.

 

Getting Started: Change Magnitude And Uncertainty

When considering a change in your organization, a big factor that needs to be considered is the impact of the change itself. The impact of a change can be measured in two ways: magnitude and uncertainty. The magnitude of a change is how big the change is in terms of its effect on the organization. The uncertainty of a change is how much we don't know about it. A high degree of uncertainty can lead to increased anxiety and resistance to proposed change.

One way to reduce uncertainty is to assess the risks associated with a change. Risks can be classified as either positive or negative. Positive risks are those that could have a positive effect on the business, such as increased profits or market share. Negative risks are those that could have a negative effect on the business, such as decreased profits or decreased market share.

Risks should be assessed by considering both the likelihood and the impact of the risk occurring. For example, if there is a high likelihood that a negative risk will occur, but the impact of that risk would be low, then it's not necessarily worth worrying about. On the other hand, if there is a low likelihood of a negative risk occurring, but the impact would be high, then it's something that needs to be taken more seriously.

By assessing the magnitude and uncertainty of a change, as well as the risks associated with it, you can make a more informed decision about whether or not to implement a change management plan in your organization, specifically.

 

Considering The Employee Impact

Another factor to consider when deciding whether or not to implement a change management plan is the impact the change will have on employees. Changes can affect employees in several ways, including:

  • Job duties - Changes can result in employees being given new job duties or being asked to do tasks that they are not familiar with. In some cases, employees may even need to be laid off or fired as a result of a change.
  • Workload - Employees may also feel increased workloads as a result of changes. This can be due to the fact that they are now responsible for doing the work of two or more people. This could potentially lead to employees being overwhelmed by the amount of change that has taken place.
  • Working conditions - Changes can also impact employees' working conditions. For example, if an agency moves to a new office, employees may have to commute further distances, tipping their home and work life off-balance. Or, if that same agency switches to a new design software, employees may have to learn how to use the new software, which can be time-consuming and frustrating.

With any major change, employees may also feel uncertainty and anxiety about the future of the business. Ultimately, employees are likely to resist changes that they feel will have a negative impact on them. Therefore, it's important to take employee concerns into consideration when deciding whether or not to implement a change management plan.

 

How to Start a Change Management Plan

Every change management plan is different, as every company has different needs and goals. The user should define the scope of the change they want to make before starting the process. Use the following questions as a guide for building your own change management strategy:

 

Why is the change necessary? What is the solution? 

The goal of a change management plan is to make sure that changes are made in an effective and efficient way. The solution is often times a change in process or policy. A good example would be if an organization wanted to switch from paper invoices to an electronic billing system. The solution would be to implement a change management plan that outlines how the business will make the transition from paper to electronic billing.

 

Is it at the corporate level? Department level? 

A change can be applied at different levels of an organization, but it's important to decide this before beginning the planning process. A corporate-level change would be something like a company-wide switch to a new software system, whereas a department-level change would be something like a change in the way that a client services department handles client complaints.

 

How big of a change is being made? 

This question is important and warrants a thoughtful answer from the get-go, as the size of the change can have a big impact on how long it takes to implement the change and how much it will cost. A small change, like switching from one type of paper to another in the office, will obviously take less time and money to implement than a large change, like switching to an entirely new accounting software system.

 

Is it a change that people will embrace, or is it tough but necessary? 

This question should also be answered in the initial stage of the planning process, as it will help determine how much communication and employee engagement will be needed before, during and, after the change. If the change is something that people will be excited about, like a refreshed office or an agency-wide bonus program, then less communication and engagement may be necessary. However, if the change is something that people may resist, like downsizing or time-tracking, then more transparent communication and engagement will be necessary to ensure the change is made in a delicate, yet effective way - to avoid employee frustration, anxiety, or resignations.

 

The Types of Change Management

Once you've answered the questions above, you can start to develop a change management plan. But first, it's important to understand the different types of change management models so that you can choose the one that's right for your team.

There are three types of changes: strategic, tactical, and operational. Strategic changes are large-scale changes that affect the overall direction of the company. Tactical changes are smaller changes that are made to improve operations. Operational changes are changes that occur on a day-to-day basis and include things like changing procedures or updating software.

Each type of change requires a different type of change management plan. For instance, while strategic changes require a comprehensive plan that takes into account all aspects of the business, tactical changes can be managed with a more limited plan that focuses on the specific area where the change is taking place. Operational changes can generally be handled on an individual basis, although it's still important to have a plan in place so that changes are made consistently and effectively.

Once you've identified the type of change that you're making, you can choose the model that's right for your organization or, in some cases, look to industry best practices.

 

Change Management in Different Industries

In general, change management is the same across all industries; the steps and processes are more or less the same. However, there are some specific changes that need to be considered in certain industries.

For example, in IT, change management needs to be more technical. In order to ensure that changes don't disrupt systems or cause data loss, IT professionals need to be involved in the process from the beginning. They need to test changes before they're implemented and make sure that they're compatible with the rest of the system.

In creative agencies, change management needs to be more strategic. Changes in this industry can have a big impact on delivery, revenue KPIs, or overall company margins. Therefore, decisions about changes need to be made carefully and with input from all stakeholders.

Small businesses may not have their own specific change management process, but they still need to follow the basic steps outlined above. The main difference is that small businesses may not have the resources to implement a formal process. They may need to rely on informal communication channels, as well as on team members to take on additional responsibilities during periodic times of change.

 

The Change Management Plan Process

Now that you understand the different types of changes and which model is right for your business, you can start to develop a change management plan.

The first step is to create a team that will be responsible for leading the change process. This team should include representatives from all areas of the organization, as well as from different levels within each department. The team should also have a clear understanding of goals and objectives.

The next step is to develop a communication plan. This plan should outline how information about the change will be communicated to employees, customers, and other stakeholders. It should also include a roadmap with specific timelines for when different groups will be notified about the change.

The third step is to create a training plan. This plan will outline how employees will be trained on the new procedures or systems. It should also include a timeline for when training will take place and who will be responsible for conducting it. Additionally, the plan should include a testing schedule - to ensure that the new procedures or systems are working correctly in a timely manner.

The fourth step is to create a rollout plan. This plan will outline how the change will be implemented. It should include a timeline for when different parts of the change will be implemented, as well as who will be responsible for each task. This phase should also include a contingency plan in case the change needs to be rolled back or modified.

The fifth and final step is to create a monitoring and evaluation plan. This plan will outline how the change will be monitored and evaluated. It should include a timeline for when different aspects of the change will be monitored, as well as who will be responsible for each task. An ongoing process for periodically reviewing the change to ensure that it is still effective should also be a part of this phase.

Of course, this is just a general overview of the change management process. Your organization’s specific process may vary depending on the size and complexity of the change. Check out this article  that elaborates on the process presented here, as well as offers up some example templates for developing your own change management plan.

 

Most Popular Change Management Models

There are a number of popular models for change management, each of which is best suited for different industries and applications. The most common models are:

  • The Waterfall Model - This model is well-suited for situations in which changes need to be made in a sequential, step-by-step manner. The waterfall model is often used in industries such as manufacturing and construction, where changes need to be planned and implemented in a precise order.
  • The Agile Model - The agile model is well-suited for situations in which changes need to be made quickly and on the fly. The agile model is often used in industries such as creative agencies and software development, where changes need to be made in response to rapidly evolving customer needs.
  • The Spiral Model - The spiral model is well-suited for situations in which there is significant uncertainty about the potential impacts of a change. The spiral model is often used in industries such as pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, where changes can have significant unforeseen consequences.


Change Management Plan: The Biggest Challenges (& Solutions)

The biggest challenges that companies face when starting a change management plan vary depending on the size of the company, its location, and its industry. However, some of the most common challenges are: 

  • A lack of communication and coordination between different departments. This can lead to confusion about who is responsible for what, and can slow down the implementation process. A change management plan can help to alleviate this by establishing clear roles and responsibilities for each department, as well as protocols for communication between them.
  • Resistance to change from employees. This can be a major obstacle, especially if the changes are major or affect how people do their jobs. Change management principles such as employee engagement and open communication can help to overcome this resistance.
  • Complexity of the changes. If the changes are complex or require significant adjustments to how people work, it can be difficult to implement them successfully. A well-planned change management process can help to simplify and streamline the changes.
  • Time constraints. If there is not enough time to properly plan and execute the changes, it can lead to frustration on the part of employees and problems with the implementation. A good change management plan will take into account the time constraints and create a timeline for the changes that is realistic yet ambitious.


How Project Management Supports Change Management

Project management principles can assist in organizing an effective and highly-customized change management process.

A well-designed change management process will help ensure that changes are made in a controlled and safe manner, that all stakeholders are consulted and their concerns addressed, that the changes are properly implemented and supported, and that any negative impacts are minimized. A project manager can play a key role in developing and leading a successful change management process by keeping everything on track or on a project's critical path.

A good project management software tool like Workamajig can help creative teams prepare to embark on a change management process by providing them with templates for creating a project plan and tracking tasks and resources. It can also help them track progress against deadlines and identify any potential problems or risks early on.

 

“The Only Constant In Life Is Change.”

Change is inevitable, and it can be both good and bad. Good change can lead to new opportunities and growth, while bad change can cause problems and disruptions. Either way, change is a part of life, and it's important to be prepared for it.

A change management plan is a tool that can help organizations to effectively manage change. It can help to ensure that changes are made in a controlled and safe manner, that all stakeholders are consulted and their concerns addressed, that the changes are properly implemented and supported, and that any negative impacts are minimized.

The process of change management can be complex, but it doesn't have to be. By using a project management software tool, teams can easily create a change management plan and track their project's progress throughout the entire process - all the while ensuring that everyone is on the same page. Our software, Workamajig, is built to help creative agencies and marketing teams execute a successful change management process. No matter how complex the change management process, Workamajig’s scheduling features, resource capacity maps, in-tool Gannt charts, as well as fully-customizable project hubs, make following your plan simple, effective, and stress-free.

Contact us today to see how Workamajig can help you navigate your project management and change management processes with ease.

 

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