In any organization, change is inevitable. Regular changes like software updates and system upgrades need effective planning and strategizing so they don’t disrupt vital workflows. A solid change management strategy is a key part of being future-ready.
Determine Why You Need a Change Management Strategy
Change management is a necessary part of organizational growth. It’s a mission-critical task that becomes a regular part of operations. The more a business relies on essential tech, the more important effective change management strategies are for IT leadership.
Start With the Overall Vision
Change management strategies need to start with a 30,000-foot view of the overall purpose and vision for the change. Since even small alterations to the tech stack can affect daily operations, you need to have a firm understanding of the full impact the change management process can have on employees and leadership.
Always establish if you need to respond to an incident, fix a problem, or make a change in the information technology infrastructure library (ITIL). Additionally, you should define what type of change you intend to implement.
- Standard changes — Standard changes are usually pre-approved and low-impact. They require risk assessment and authorization on first implementation. Standard changes can be as simple as swapping out a printer’s ink cartridge.
- Normal changes — Normal changes are either minor or major, depending on their overall impact and urgency. An example of a normal change would be moving on-premises services to the cloud.
- Emergency changes — As the name implies, these changes are high impact and urgent. They often require an expedited process for assessment, approval, and implementation. Some examples include server failures or data center disruptions.
Be Ready to Defend the Decision
Every proposed change management plan will receive some type of scrutiny from leadership and employees. You should prepare to defend your strategy against common criticism. In most cases, developing a change management plan using a robust set of data can help provide evidence for the necessity and importance of the change.
Be ready to have a response to the four common personality types who might resist change:
- People who don’t understand change — Resistance often ties back to a lack of understanding. Have clear answers for why the change is necessary and articulate the benefits.
- People who aren’t open to change — We’re all a bit resistant to change. You should develop engaging methods to relay change positively to employees and leadership.
- People who fear losing value — If people are happy with existing software or hardware, they can fear change will alter their daily workflow. Always have a clear idea of the value the change will bring.
- People who don’t see the benefits — If you’re not effectively relaying your value proposition for the change, employees and leadership can easily overlook any benefits.
Developing the right change management strategy includes effective communication. Before you start the planning or design process, you need approval from all stakeholders.
Evaluate Different Change Management Methodologies
Defining best practices for change management involves understanding the different change management models. The right strategy may employ one or many approaches. Since change management projects are often big, costly, and complicated, developing a unique approach that fits your organizational needs can help optimize effective change.
It’s worth noting that many of these models focus on organizational change. Still, you can implement many of these approaches into your IT change management plan effectively.
The McKinsey 7-S Model
McKinsey & Company created the powerful 7-S Model so that teams don’t overlook critical information. This method focuses on breaking down the change management process into seven components:
- Change strategy
- Structure of your company
- Business systems and processes
- Shared company values and culture
- Manner and style of work
Developed by Prosci founder, Jeff Hiatt, this model focuses on five main goals:
- Awareness — Does everyone in the organization understand the need for change?
- Desire — Is everyone involved on board and ready for change?
- Knowledge — Does everyone involved have all the information needed to accomplish the change process?
- Ability — Is everyone equipped with the necessary skills and training?
- Reinforcement — After the change process, are you ensuring employees and stakeholders are on top of doing things the new way?
Kotter’s Change Management Method
This strategy emphasizes the people involved in the change process. Developed by Harvard professor, John Kotter, this method involves eight steps:
- Develop a sense of urgency around the change. This will help motivate people.
- Build a change team with leadership and people from various departments and diverse skill sets.
- Have a focused vision for what you intend to accomplish with the change.
- Effectively communicate the change to everyone involved. Make sure everyone is on board and understands their roles.
- Search for roadblocks or anything that might cause friction in your strategy.
- Develop short-term goals. This can break down the change management process into achievable steps.
- Maintain overall change momentum during the implementation process.
- Make sure you maintain all changes after initial project completion.
These are a few actionable strategies you can use to help develop your change management process. Each situation is unique, so avoid approaching each project with a one-size-fits-all mentality. The more catered your change solutions, the more effective the results.
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