Best practices for change management
Over the past decade, I have witnessed the transformation of organizational change requirements in IT Consulting. My interactions with colleagues during review calls and ideation sessions have led me to realize that the evolution of change requirements, coupled with the shift in project delivery methodologies in an IT world, i.e., from Waterfall to agile way of working, has increased challenges for on-ground change consultants. As change consultants, there’s a need to cater to a much larger set of client requirements across overlapping activities and undertakings of the project including security measures. I’m outlining the basic requisites you need to consider when overseeing a project, especially if you are an individual contributor.
Four principles for change management:
1. Intentional change plan
The ability to assess and plan for change is key to managing change. Conducting regular change assessments, will help identify potential risks and allow for mitigation steps to be put into place. A change management plan should always involve three aspects:
- Continuous communication: Frequent and relevant communication helps resolve concerns and reduces stress among stakeholders and employees that are most impacted by change. Offering clarity regarding the situation, nature of impending change and its impact on the “what” and “why” of change, as well as the type of support that will be provided to them and by whom will make them more receptive to accept change. Clear demarcation of roles will also help employees foresee their future within the organization. Lack of regular and apt communication often drives employees to adopt the ‘fright to flight’ mode, which usually leads to the depletion of skill sets within the organization.
- Understanding the change: It is of utmost importance to understand the scope and size of the intended change as soon as you are aware of it. Hold conversations with key stakeholders and clearly document the details of the required change as well as the high-level expectations from the implementation of change. Apart from this, it will also be useful to identify people who are resistant to change and note their concerns. This will help setting the framework and identifying further action points to be included in the change management plan.
- Building a change network: Implementing change management strategies across multiple streams and geographies as well as overseeing impact across these geographies and varying cultures can prove to be difficult to manage for a single consultant. Hence, it is advisable for you to build an internal team within the client organization to build trust among the impacted users. This change network will allow you to resolve potential issues in the successful implementation of change under your guidance.
2. Appropriate collaboration & alignment: One lesson I’ve learnt across projects is the need to always align with the project management team and focus on agile implementation methodologies. Onboarding of agile, lean, six sigma, subject matter experts will allow for greater collaboration on the change management plan. Furthermore, the use of digital project management and communication tools should be encouraged, as this enables geographically separated teams to work in sync with the overall project plan.
3. Detailed toolkit: Another lesson learnt during my many interactions with client change networks across projects, is the issue of failing to ensure continuity of change initiatives. As the change network isn’t provided with specific plans and communication templates, the continuity of change implementation can face several roadblocks. A common challenge is that network agents are not well versed with change management and therefore, face difficulty in understanding the change requirements and conducting impact assessments. To negate this issue, it is imperative that you empower the client change network with toolkits that comprise weekly plans, communication artefacts, tracker templates, impact analysis templates, etc.
4. Right governance mechanism: You need to ensure that a proper governance mechanism is in place. Especially with regard to project management, the client management team must be included in the change plan, and the defined initiatives must be diligently followed by all stakeholders.
These fundamental pointers can be seamlessly included in all change management initiatives irrespective of the type and size of the project and help you as a change consultant to manage change in a smooth and consistent manner.
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