Top Change Management Processes and Procedures

The change management process, like any other business activity, can sometimes seem daunting. It may be that you are just starting out, or that you are looking to accelerate what you’re currently doing. Whatever the case may be, applying processes and procedures can help you improve your change management programme.

Formalising the processes and procedures makes everyone sure they’re on the same page. It can add structure to your change management programme, which helps guide you along the way. It can also help to encourage others to take part in your change management programme. 

The benefits of having processes and procedures in your change management process are countless. First of all, we need to be clear about what we mean by change management.

What is Change Management?

Prosci defines change management as: 

The application of a structured process and set of tools for leading the people side of change to achieve a desired outcome.’

This definition is rather multi faceted, so let's dig a bit deeper. The first thing to understand is that change occurs throughout an organisational. This change will usually be around an improvement to everyday activity. This can often come in the form of a project. 

The second thing to note is the impact of the change and its effect on people. Also to note is how people can help the project come to life. 

Finally, you will see that prosci highlights the importance of sets of processes and tools that are required to make this change a success. That's why it's so important to implement processes and procedures when conducting change management.

Planning the Change

Before you start with a change management project, it’s sensible to begin a change management plan. The plan should aim to outline the 7 Rs of change management. These are as follows:

  • Raised: who has raised the need for the change?
  • Reason: what is their reason for raising?
  • Return: what would the return be if it was successful?
  • Risks: what are the risks involved?
  • Resources: what resources would be required?
  • Responsible: who is responsible?

Once you have these questions ready, it's time to start answering them! Answering these questions before you begin prevents any unexpected occurrences, which can cause delays or setbacks. It will also help qualify the project to stakeholders, whose commitment to the project could be critical. 

For raised, reason and responsible, it will likely be a case of liaising with various stakeholders to find your answers. For the others, we’re going to have to look slightly deeper. You may wish to consider using project forecasting tools to paint a picture of what the likely scenario may be.

Project forecasting tools, such as those that your organization may currently be invested in (ERP tools such as Oracle, SAP or Salesforce) tend to be used by larger organisations. Smaller organisations may favour ‘3rd party software’. Regardless of which software you are using, it's important to get the best data, so that your forecasts are as accurate as they can be.

Try and use data from previous projects as a benchmark. You may even wish to look into data from external sources, such as industry averages or recent trends. We want these figures to be as accurate as possible, as this can be an important consideration when deciding on whether to go ahead with a project. Having the most accurate and up to date data avoids any nasty surprises, and keeps your stakeholders on your side.

When considering the likelihood of a project success, It may also be worth considering the ‘Force field model’. This model looks to identify driving forces for and against a project's success. Although highlight subjective, it's a good thought exercise to complete during the validation stage of a project. 

Starting a Change Management Project

Once we have a plan in place, and have decided a project is going ahead, we can start thinking about how we’re going to begin a project. There are a few things to consider at this stage.

First, is the ADKAR model. Our definition of change management put a focus on the importance of people. ADKAR is all about aligning individuals with the mission of the change management mission. We do this, by addressing the following aspects:

  • Awareness: how aware are the people in your organisation of the change?
  • Desire: are they motivated to support the change?
  • Knowledge: what's their knowledge level? Do they need to understand it better?
  • Ability: what is their ability to take part in the change? Will they need support here?
  • Reinforcement: how are you going to reinforce the change, and not let people slip back to old ways?

At this stage, we would also recommend creating a culture map and stakeholder map. A culture map will help you understand your organisation's underlying culture. This will inform how you can best engage with stakeholders who you may be less familiar with. A stakeholder map is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a map of all the stakeholders involved in a project, along with their relevance, importance and ability to influence the project. A culture map and stakeholder map will help navigate your change management activity. We would suggest undertaking these before starting out on any new change management project.

Implementing Change Management

Now that we have a plan in place and have started our change management project, we can now consider how to best implement and execute our change management. This is also an important stage to consider. We can have the best plan in the world, but if we forget to continue paying attention to processes and procedures when the project begins, everything can fall apart quickly. 

To ensure success, we use a variety of processes and procedures at this stage. The first is Kotter's 8 step change model. Kotter's model includes the following steps:

  1. Increase urgency
  2. Form a powerful coalition
  3. Create a vision
  4. Communicate the vision
  5. Empower actions
  6. Create quick wins
  7. Build on the change
  8. Make it stick

Though Kotter's model covers a wide spectrum of the change management process, we believe the middle steps are particularly powerful when implementing the change management process. For more information on Kotter’s model, we suggest heading to their website.

Another model to consider during the implementation of your change management process is the Kubler Ross Five Stage Model. This model is different to the others, as its focus is on the emotions that employees are likely to feel throughout the process. By understanding the emotions employees are likely to go through, you can better understand and empathize with them. This can then inform how you go about communicating and dealing with these emotions.

The five stages of Kuber Ross’s model are as follows:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Understanding when and where these emotions are likely to develop allows you to put steps in place to deal with them. Remember to try and put yourself in the employees shoes, and address how they’re likely to be feeling. Also, consider that these emotions are only temporary, and that eventually, everyone will reach acceptance. Your job is to make this transition through each emotional stage as smooth as possible.

Post-project Completion

Once a project is nearing completion, there are a few further change management processes and procedures to consider. The first is one that has been highlighted in some of the previously mentioned models. It’s the reinforcement of the change, or ‘making it stick’ to ensure that the change is not forgotten about, and people fall back to their old ways.

We use a variety of tools and techniques to make sure this is the case. The first, is ‘celebrating wins’. We celebrate wins by communicating to relevant stakeholders the successes of our change management projects. This should be done in a way that is relevant to them. 

One way to ensure this is by monitoring key KPIs. Try to assign KPIs to each project that matter the most to each stakeholder group. That way, when your project succeeds, you can communicate using the KPIs most relevant to them. This makes it easier for stakeholders to understand the benefit. You can read more about the importance of post-project monitoring and evaluation here.

The next technique that we would suggest undertaking post-project completion is gathering feedback. Gathering feedback from a variety of sources is important, as you want to understand the full impact of your project. Often key details will be missed, so this is a brilliant way of accessing this otherwise hidden data. We would suggest using surveys, with a mix of both qualitative and quantitative data. This makes sure you get the full picture. 

Gathering feedback can also be a great way to remind employees that their opinion is valued. This is likely to improve their commitment to new change projects.

Lastly, we would suggest keeping track of and evaluating each project, so that organisational learning can occur. Using the feedback and KPIs mentioned prior, write a summary which evaluates what went well and what didn’t go so well for each project. This allows your change management process to improve over time, as you identify where strengths and weaknesses lay. Over time, as more information is revealed, your process can improve, maximising the results of your change management process.

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