What Is Change Management? An Easy-To-Implement Guide

13 min read

Change happens all the time, both in our personal lives and at work. It can be challenging when organizations need to switch things up, like introducing new technologies or changing how things are done. People might feel unsure or even resist the changes. That’s where change management comes in.

Change management is a method to help organizations plan and carry out changes smoothly. It’s like a roadmap that leaders use to guide their teams through changes, ensuring everyone is on the same page and reducing disruptions.

Change might seem tricky, but it can lead to exciting new opportunities with the right tools. This easy-to-follow guide will explore what management of change is all about.

What is change management?

Change management is like the compass that helps organizations navigate the tumultuous waters of change. It is a structured approach to planning, guiding, and supporting individuals, teams, and the entire organization through transitions. Whether it’s a major organizational restructuring, the adoption of new technology, or even a shift in company culture, management of change provides a roadmap for managing change effectively.

At its core, change management ensures that everyone affected by a change understands it, accepts it, and can adapt to it with minimal disruption.

Change management is not a one-size-fits-all approach; it can vary depending on the nature and scale of the change. However, its fundamental principles remain consistent: facilitating a structured, organized, and collaborative approach to change, making it more manageable and less disruptive.

Now that we’ve explored what change management is, let’s dive into its fundamental principles.

What are the change management principles?

Change management operates on fundamental principles that guide organizations through the transformation process. These principles serve as a foundation for effective change management strategies. Let’s explore the key change management principles:

  • Leadership alignment: Top leaders must champion and model the desired change.
  • Clear objectives: Clearly defined objectives, key results, and rationale for change are essential.
  • Stakeholder engagement: Engage all affected parties, considering their input and feedback.
  • Effective communication: Timely, honest, and tailored communication is vital.
  • Resistance management: Identify, understand, and address resistance constructively.
  • Flexibility and adaptability: Change plans should be adaptable to evolving circumstances.
  • Empowerment: Encourage employee ownership and provide necessary resources.
  • Training and development: Equip employees with the skills needed for change.
  • Measurement and evaluation: Regularly assess progress against defined metrics through change and project management reports.
  • Celebration of success: Recognize and celebrate achievements to boost morale.
  • Sustainability: Ensure the change becomes ingrained in the organization’s culture.

As we grasp the change management principles, let’s now distinguish between individual and organizational change management.

What is the difference between individual vs. organizational change management?

Change management involves managing change at both the individual and organizational levels. Let’s explore the distinctions between individual and organizational change management.

AspectWhat is individual change management?What is organizational change management?
FocusIndividuals and their reactions to change.The organization as a whole and its transformation.
ScopeConcerned with how individual employees, team members, and stakeholders adapt to and cope with the change.Concerned with the organization’s overall strategy, structure, culture, and processes and how they adapt to change.
ObjectivesHelps individuals understand and accept the change, manage their fears and concerns, and develop necessary skills.Aims to ensure that the organization as a whole achieves its change-related goals and realizes desired outcomes.
CommunicationTailored to address individual needs, concerns, and questions. It emphasizes empathy, listening, and support.Involves organization-wide communication that provides a clear vision of the change, its benefits, and its implications.
Resistance managementFocuses on identifying and addressing individual resistance to change through open dialogue and support mechanisms.Focuses on identifying and addressing systemic resistance, including structural and cultural barriers within the organization.
Training and developmentProvides training and resources to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills required for the change.Provides training and development programs that align with the organizational goals and support employees at all levels.
EmpowermentEncourages individuals to participate in the change process, make decisions, and take ownership of their role.Empowers leaders and employees to drive the change process collaboratively and take ownership of their roles.
Measurement and evaluationEvaluates individual progress in adapting to the change and addresses any challenges or setbacks as they arise.Monitors the progress of the overall change initiative, tracks key performance indicators, and adjusts strategies as needed.

Now that we’ve explored individual vs. organizational change management, let’s focus on the distinction between release and change management.

What is the difference between release vs. change management?

In IT and business operations, it’s essential to distinguish between release management and change management, as they serve distinct but complementary roles in ensuring smooth transitions and maintaining the integrity of systems and processes. Let’s explore the differences between release management and change management.

AspectWhat is change management?What is release management?
FocusManaging organizational changes across various aspectsDeployment of software releases and updates
ScopeBroad, encompasses all aspects of the organizationNarrow, primarily IT-centric
ObjectiveMitigating risks associated with changes and ensuring successful adoptionSmooth deployment, minimizing disruption and risk
Relationship to projectsNot tied to specific projects, considers long-term impactProject-centric, tied to development lifecycles
Technical expertiseFocuses on people, processes, and culture; less technicalRequires technical expertise for deployment
TimingFocuses on readiness for change, may not have specific release schedulesConcerned with release schedules and downtime minimization
CommunicationEmphasizes effective communication and trainingLess emphasis on communication beyond release details
Risk managementFocuses on identifying and mitigating risks associated with changePrimarily concerned with technical risks during deployment
Stakeholder engagementEngages a wide range of stakeholders affected by the changeLimited to stakeholders involved in the release process
Long-term perspectiveFocused on long-term organizational success and strategic objectivesOften project-specific, short-term

Having discussed what managing change entails, let’s dive into the change management process.

What is the change management process?

Whether small or large, organizational change can be a complex and challenging process. Organizations often employ a structured approach known as the change management process to navigate these changes effectively. 

This process, or the change management methodology, provides a clear roadmap for planning, executing, and managing change, ensuring that it is well-managed and leads to successful outcomes.

Here is a step-by-step guide to the change management framework:

  1. Assess the need for change: Identify the new ideas, reasons, and drivers behind the proposed change. Clarify the objectives and expected outcomes of the change.
  2. Create a change management team: Assemble a dedicated team with the skills and expertise to lead the change effort. Assign roles and responsibilities within the team, including change sponsors, leaders, and change agents.
  3. Develop a change management plan: Outline a comprehensive plan that details how the change will be managed, including timelines and milestones (consider using a Gantt chart). Define KPIs to measure the change initiative’s success.
  4. Engage stakeholders: Identify and communicate with all stakeholders affected by the change. Solicit input and feedback from stakeholders to understand their concerns and needs.
  5. Communication strategy: Develop a clear and tailored change management strategy that outlines what information will be shared, when, and through which channels during the whole project and product life cycle. Ensure that communication is consistent, honest, and transparent.
  6. Training and skill development: Assess the skills and knowledge needed to adapt to the change. Develop change management training programs and resources to equip employees with the required capabilities.
  7. Manage resistance: Recognize and address resistance to the change at the individual and organizational levels. Create a supportive environment that encourages open dialogue and problem-solving.
  8. Pilot test and implementation: Conduct a pilot test of the change in a controlled environment to identify potential issues. Implement the change on a larger scale, closely monitoring progress and addressing challenges. Consider using current technologies like artificial intelligence to test the changes.
  9. Monitor and evaluate: Continuously assess the progress of the change initiative against established KPIs. Gather feedback and adjust the change management plan as needed.
  10. Celebrate success: Recognize and celebrate milestones and achievements throughout the change process. Acknowledge the efforts of employees and the positive impact of the change.
  11. Sustain and institutionalize change: Ensure that the change becomes a part of the organization’s culture and operations. Integrate the change into standard processes and practices.
  12. Document and learn: For future reference, document the lessons learned from the change management process. Use insights gained to improve future change initiatives.

The change management process is not linear; it often involves revisiting and adjusting steps based on feedback and evolving circumstances. Flexibility, adaptability, and a commitment to effective communication and engagement are key to successfully managing the change process.

Now that we’ve explored the change management process, let’s focus on the various change management models.

What are the change management models?

Change management is a dynamic field with various models and frameworks that provide organizations with structured approaches to navigate change effectively. Let’s explore some of the prominent models of managing change.

Change Management ModelDescription
Lewin’s Change Management ModelThis model, developed by psychologist Kurt Lewin, comprises three stages: unfreezing, changing, and refreezing. Unfreezing involves preparing individuals and organizations for change, changing entails implementing the change, and refreezing involves stabilizing the change as the new norm.
Kotter’s Change Model (8-Step Change Model)Created by Harvard professor John Kotter, this model provides a step-by-step approach to leading change effectively. It includes steps such as creating a sense of urgency, building a guiding coalition, and anchoring the change in the organizational culture.
ADKAR Change Management ModelADKAR stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement. This model, developed by Prosci, focuses on individual change by addressing the stages individuals go through when adapting to change. It provides a structured framework for managing resistance and ensuring that individuals are ready and willing to embrace change.
McKinsey 7-S ModelThis model, developed by McKinsey & Company, emphasizes seven key elements of an organization that need to be aligned for successful change: strategy, structure, systems, staff, skills, style, and shared values. It highlights the interconnectedness of these factors.
Kübler-Ross Change CurveAdapted from the stages of grief by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, this model describes the emotional journey individuals go through during change. It includes stages such as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Understanding these stages helps manage emotions and support individuals effectively.
Prosci’s Change Management Process (3-Phase Change Process)Prosci’s approach combines a structured process with practical tools and research-backed methodologies. It includes stages such as preparing for change, managing change, and reinforcing change. Prosci emphasizes the importance of addressing both individual and organizational dimensions of change.
The Kotter – Schlesinger Six Change ApproachesThis model, developed by John Kotter and Leonard Schlesinger, addresses resistance to change: education and communication, participation and involvement, facilitation and support, negotiation and agreement, manipulation and co-optation, and explicit and implicit coercion.
The Bridges Transition ModelWilliam Bridges’ model focuses on helping individuals and organizations navigate emotional and psychological aspects of change. It emphasizes managing the transition period between the old and new states, recognizing that people often experience a “neutral zone” of uncertainty and discomfort during change.
The Satir Change ModelDeveloped by Virginia Satir, this model highlights the stages of change as status quo, resistance, chaos, integration, and new status quo. It emphasizes addressing underlying issues and fostering healthy communication during change.

Having discussed the change management models, let’s focus on essential change management roles.

What are the change management roles?

Effective change management relies on a team of individuals who play specific roles in guiding, facilitating, and supporting the change process. Let’s explore some of the key change management roles and their responsibilities:

Change management roleDescription
Change sponsorThe change sponsor is typically a senior leader or executive who champions the initiative. They provide the vision and strategic direction for the change, allocate resources, and actively support and advocate for the change throughout the organization.
Change leaderChange leaders are responsible for driving the change at the operational level. They oversee the day-to-day implementation of the change, manage teams, and ensure that the change aligns with the organization’s goals.
Change agentChange agents facilitate and support the change at the grassroots level. They are often responsible for communicating the change, training employees, and addressing their concerns. Change agents play a crucial role in helping individuals adapt to the change.
Change management teamThe change management team is a group of professionals dedicated to planning, coordinating, and executing the change management process. This team may include change managers, communication specialists, and training coordinators.
Project managerIn many change initiatives, a project manager, with a change management certification, is responsible for managing the technical aspects of the change, such as implementing new systems or processes. They ensure that the project stays on schedule and within budget.
Stakeholder engagement specialistThis role focuses on identifying and engaging with stakeholders affected by the change. The specialist communicates with stakeholders, gathers feedback, and addresses their concerns and needs.
Communication specialistCommunication specialists develop and execute the communication plan for the change. They create messaging, select communication channels, and ensure that information is distributed effectively to all relevant parties.
Training and development coordinatorThis role is responsible for designing and implementing training programs to equip employees with the skills and knowledge needed to adapt to the change. They may also provide ongoing support and resources.
Resistance managerResistance managers focus on identifying and addressing resistance to change, both at the individual and organizational levels. They work to mitigate barriers and help individuals and teams overcome resistance.
Metrics and measurement analystAnalysts in this role monitor and measure the progress and impact of the change initiative. They track key performance indicators (KPIs) and provide data-driven insights to inform decision-making.
Change management ConsultantOrganizations may bring external change management consultants or experts to provide guidance, expertise, and best practices for managing complex change initiatives.
End users and participantsWhile not typically considered formal roles, end users and participants are essential stakeholders in any change initiative. Their active involvement, feedback, and willingness to adapt to the change are critical to its success.

Now that we’ve explored the essential change management roles, let’s dive into the significance of a change advisory board.

What is a change advisory board (CAB)?

In change management, a change advisory board is pivotal in overseeing and approving changes within an organization’s IT infrastructure and business processes. A CAB is a formal group of key stakeholders and subject matter experts who assess and guide proposed changes. 

The primary purpose of a CAB is to ensure that changes are introduced smoothly, minimizing risks, disruptions, and potential negative impacts.

After understanding what a change advisory board is, let’s examine its key responsibilities.

What are the key responsibilities of a change advisory board?

A CAB has many important jobs when it comes to handling proposed changes:

  • Change assessment: The CAB is responsible for evaluating change requests to determine their feasibility, potential risks, and alignment with the organization’s goals. They assess whether the proposed changes are well-documented and have undergone proper testing and validation.
  • Risk evaluation: CAB members assess the potential risks associated with each change. This includes considering security, compliance, impact on existing systems, and potential conflicts with other changes or projects.
  • Resource allocation: The CAB helps allocate necessary resources, such as manpower, time, and budget, for the successful implementation of approved changes with the highest productivity.
  • Approvals and authorizations: Based on their evaluation, the CAB approves changes that meet the established criteria. This authorization typically includes specifying the date and time for implementation.
  • Scheduling and coordination: The CAB ensures that approved changes are scheduled at a time that minimizes disruption to business operations. They also coordinate the activities of various teams involved in the change process.
  • Communication: Effective communication is a key responsibility of the CAB. They inform stakeholders, including senior management, IT teams, and affected users, about upcoming changes, their impacts, and any necessary preparations.
  • Post-implementation review: After implementing changes, the CAB conducts post-implementation reviews to assess their success and identify any unexpected issues. Lessons learned from these reviews can inform future change management processes.

Having explored the key responsibilities of a change advisory board, let’s now take a closer look at the typical structure of a CAB.

What is the typical CAB structure?

The composition of a CAB can vary depending on the organization’s size, industry, and specific needs. However, a typical CAB may include the following members:

  • Change manager: Responsible for organizing and managing the CAB meetings and ensuring that change requests are complete and well-documented.
  • Technical experts: Specialists with in-depth knowledge of the organization’s IT systems and infrastructure.
  • Security experts: Individuals who assess the potential security implications of changes and ensure compliance with security policies.
  • Business representatives: Stakeholders from various business units who can assess the impact of changes on day-to-day operations.
  • Compliance and legal experts: Professionals who ensure changes adhere to legal and regulatory requirements.
  • Quality assurance and testing experts: Individuals who evaluate the testing and validation processes associated with proposed changes.

Now that we’ve examined the typical structure of a change advisory board, let’s explore the benefits and challenges associated with CABs.

What are the benefits and challenges of a change advisory board?

Having a well-structured CAB offers several advantages:

  • Risk reduction: The CAB helps identify and mitigate risks associated with changes, reducing the likelihood of unexpected disruptions.
  • Consistency: It ensures that a standardized process is followed for evaluating and approving changes, promoting consistency and transparency.
  • Efficiency: By coordinating and scheduling changes, the CAB optimizes resource utilization (by resource leveling) and minimizes conflicts.
  • Compliance: It helps organizations adhere to regulatory and compliance requirements, particularly in industries with strict guidelines.

Despite its benefits, CABs can face challenges, including the potential for bureaucracy and delays. To address these challenges, organizations should balance thorough evaluation and efficient decision-making.

After understanding the key change management roles, let’s now explore the benefits that effective change management can bring to organizations.

What are the benefits of change management?

Change management offers a multitude of benefits to organizations transforming. Firstly, it ensures a smooth transition, meticulously planning and executing changes to minimize disruptions. 

It also effectively addresses resistance, encouraging employees to embrace new working methods. This, in turn, leads to improved productivity and higher employee morale, which is crucial for maintaining organizational momentum. Change management serves as a risk mitigation strategy, identifying and neutralizing potential risks on the whole innovation roadmap, saving the organization from costly errors. 

Additionally, it accelerates return on investment (ROI) by streamlining change implementation. Consistency in change processes is another outcome, promoting efficiency and reliability. 

Organizations in regulated industries appreciate change management to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. Moreover, it boosts customer satisfaction, as employees who adapt well to change can offer better service. Aligning changes with strategic objectives strengthens an organization’s direction. 

Change management nurtures a culture of innovation and growth, fostering a competitive advantage in dynamic markets. Employee development opportunities and long-term sustainability are also among its merits. 

Lastly, change management supports data-driven decision-making, facilitating informed choices for future initiatives. In essence, change management is a comprehensive approach that reaps numerous benefits, elevating organizations to greater success.

While we’ve explored the benefits of change management, it’s also important to acknowledge and address the challenges that can arise in the change management process.

What are the challenges of change management?

Despite its numerous benefits, change management also comes with its challenges. One of the foremost obstacles is resistance to change, which can manifest at various organizational levels. 

Employees may be hesitant or reluctant to embrace new processes, technologies, or organizational structures. Overcoming this resistance requires careful planning and communication. Change management initiatives can also face issues related to inadequate resources regarding time and budget. It’s essential to allocate sufficient resource planning, implementation, and support resources to ensure the change’s success. 

Sometimes, unclear communication can lead to confusion and misinformation among stakeholders. Maintaining open, transparent, and consistent communication is critical to address this challenge. 

Additionally, managing multiple changes concurrently can strain an organization’s adaptation capacity. Prioritizing and sequencing changes effectively becomes crucial in such situations. Furthermore, change fatigue can set in if employees feel overwhelmed by continuous changes. Organizations must balance innovation and the resource capacity to absorb and adapt to change to combat this. 

Finally, measuring the success of change initiatives and linking them to tangible outcomes can be challenging but is essential for continuous improvement. In navigating these challenges, organizations can enhance their change management processes and maximize the benefits of transformation.

Now that we’ve examined the benefits, challenges, and change management best practices, let’s explore the tools that can aid in effective change management.

Organizations can access various tools and software to facilitate and enhance change management processes. These tools offer valuable features for planning, tracking, and executing changes while ensuring alignment with organizational goals. Let’s explore some popular change management tools that can help streamline your change initiatives:

PPM Express is a versatile project portfolio management tool that offers robust features for change management. It enables organizations to plan, execute, and monitor changes effectively. Some of its notable features include:

  • Portfolio management: PPM Express allows you to create and manage change portfolios, providing a clear overview of all change initiatives in progress.
  • Ideation and prioritization: The ideation feature helps gather and prioritize change ideas from stakeholders, ensuring that the most impactful changes are selected for implementation.
  • Resource allocation: PPM Express helps allocate resources efficiently, ensuring that teams have the necessary resources to implement changes successfully.
  • Progress tracking: The tool provides real-time monitoring of change initiatives, offering insights into their status, timelines, and potential roadblocks.

With PPM Express, you can enhance your change management efforts by centralizing your change portfolio and optimizing resource allocation, all while aligning changes with your organization’s strategic goals.

While PPM Express offers robust features for change management, there are several other valuable tools in the market that organizations can explore to tailor their change management processes to their specific needs.

  • Microsoft Power Platform is a suite of business application tools that includes Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power BI. Organizations can leverage Power Apps to build custom apps for change management processes, Power Automate to automate workflows, and Power BI for data analysis and reporting.
  • Smartsheet is a collaboration and work management platform that offers project and change management features. It provides customizable templates, task tracking, and reporting capabilities to help teams plan and execute change initiatives.
  • Jira, developed by Atlassian, is a popular project management and issue-tracking tool. It’s often used for managing software development projects but can also be adapted for change management processes.
  • Microsoft Teams is a collaboration platform that facilitates communication and coordination during change initiatives. It includes chat, file sharing, and video conferencing features, making it a valuable tool for remote teams.

Incorporating these popular change management tools into your organization’s processes can significantly enhance your ability to effectively plan, execute, and track change initiatives. 

With PPM Express, you can transform your change initiatives into well-planned, strategically aligned successes. Try PPM Express today and experience the power of its portfolio management and ideation features for efficient change management. 

What Is Change Management? An Easy-To-Implement Guide
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