Change Management: When to do it

7th November 2022

When to use Change Management

The conversion of Transformation project outputs into outcomes and benefits invariably requires some form of organisational change, and resistance is inevitable. Failing to account for this can result in project failure, and a waste of time, money and resources. That’s bad enough, but failing to implement required change can cripple the organisation further. A compounded nose-dive.

It is therefore important that a plan for change management is considered from the start of a project, and the implementation of it continues throughout each stage of the project - from conception and definition, through to implementation and closure. Importantly, it is not something that should be bolted on mid-way at the first sign of resistance, or worse, at the end of a project.

Project Conceptualization

As the project is conceptualized you need to engage with stakeholders and get buy-in to the proposed benefits. It is much easier to bring about change if you have engaged those who will ultimately be undergoing that change, from the start.

It is at this stage where the scale of the change needs to be understood – just how big is the change going to be? Knowing this will help you understand the scale of your Change Plan. For example, will a dedicated Change Team or Change Budget be required?

Project Definition

As you move on to the definition stage of the project, take a look at the outputs and deliverables that have been defined as part of your project planning, and identify which of them will require change management support. Support level requirements per output will vary.

Beyond simply identifying those outputs that will require change support, try to identify ‘what’ the impact is, and when it will occur. This will help you target and tailor your support. One shoe does not fit all feet.

Once identified, use this knowledge to inform resistance management training for your change leads/team, and tailor user training for those in BAU undergoing the change.

Project implementation

As you progress into the development and implementation phase of a project, your Change Plan needs to be interweaved into the detailed plans and schedules identified as part of your project planning. For example, any risks identified need to be captured in your risk management plan; stakeholder engagement needs to be incorporated into your comms and engagement plan (more on these in latter blogs).

This is a key time for Change Management, as this is when a core part of the Change Plan will be implemented. As the project delivers the change, enactment of the Change plan will ensure that benefits are clearly communicated, obstacles are removed, and resistance handled.

Project Closure

Finally, as the project draws to a close, it is important that the changes are sustained following project closure, and that a return to the old ways does not occur. Factoring for this is often overlooked and is a key reason for project failure. It is important that the investment of time, money and resources that went in to bringing about the change is not wasted.

It is at this stage that the transfer of responsibility to continue the change is handed over to BAU, so it important that responsibility for any change management is appropriately transferred. Do not simply end the project and hand over a list of changes.

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