Change Management

The three guarantees in Life- Death, Taxes and Change. Change is an inevitable part of life. But it’s also an inevitable and often crucial part of the business. If you work in I.T and you are not implementing changes, then you are not moving forward. Implementing new and improved technologies should be at the forefront of your role and responsibilities. Changes in IT services are either proactive or reactive. Want to install a new printer? Add a new domain controller? Move to a new software platform? These proactive changes focus mainly on offering new products or services. Your role is no longer just technical where you manage the change by placing safeguards and redundancy procedures in place in case something goes wrong… You are also required to manage the people that are exposed to the changes in the environment to ensure the hard work you place on implementing new technologies and systems are accepted by the users and that issues do not arise as a result of the change. A central idea of all change management theories is that no change ever happens in isolation. In one way or another, change impacts the whole organization and all of the people in it. But with good change management, you can encourage everyone to adapt to and embrace your new way of working.

What is Change Management?

Change Management is the process and set of steps put in place to manage all changes, updates and modifications to the IT infrastructure and services. A well-defined and controlled change management process leads to the effective handling of these changes. Change management is concerned with more the people aspect of the change rather than the technical aspect.  The ultimate goal of change management is to help changes stick in your organization and create effective strategies for the ever-present need to adapt and adjust to new technologies and systems. Change management will help the business as a whole, and each individual on a team, see the success and progress that change can bring.

Benefits of IT Change Management

In addition to minimizing the impact of disruptions to your services, there are a number of benefits:

  • The changes can be implemented faster in a systematic manner.
  • Helps track the progress of changes to your IT infrastructure
  • Make your IT Change Management process more transparent, improving communication with stakeholders
  • Easily trace the roll-out of any changes if something goes wrong
  • Improve cost estimate for any proposed changes
  • It improves the alignment of IT services towards the core business of the company.
  • The negative impact of change on business operations is greatly minimized.
  • Responsiveness to the changes made is prioritized so that only the most important issues are attended to first.
  • Risk management is improved in the face of change management.
  • Change management results in a lesser number of disruptions to the IT services and the system downtime if it occurs is also reduced.
  • Since the changes are implemented in an organized manner, the productivity of the staff is also improved.

What kind of changes are there?

In IT Change Management there are three different types of change: standard changes, normal changes and emergency changes. Each type is managed in a different way:

  • Standard changes. These are low risk changes that happen more frequently to a service or to the IT infrastructure. Here, the implementation process and the risks are known upfront. These changes are managed according to policies that an IT organization already has in place and as they are preapproved they can be implemented more quickly. An example of a standard change: installing a new printer, or software on a laptop.
  • Normal changes. These changes is where more of the change management practices com in to play and will require planning, evaluation, and authorization. If they are of low risk, one person is usually required for the authorization. If the risk is high-risk then a change advisory board decides whether the change will be implemented. A normal change could be moving a new development project into production, or adding a new server.
  • Emergency changes. These are changes that must be performed as soon as possible and most often with the partial omission of some process elements. In this case, it is acceptable to postpone the documentation preparation until implementation and reduce some testing tasks. An example of an emergency change: having to fix a security breach that requires a patch to a large number of workstations.

Designing your ITIL change management process flow

Your ITIL change management process flow should follow these eight key stages.

  1. Creating the request for change (RFC)
  2. Reviewing the request for change
  3. Planning the change
  4. Testing the change
  5. Creating the change proposal
  6. Implementing changes
  7. Reviewing change performance
  8. Closure

Change Management strategy principles

Using the 8 steps outlined above can allow for easier and structured implementation of changes with your organisationan. Implementing change management effectively can give companies the competitive edge they need to stay ahead in the game. Mentioned below are some steps that will help companies introduce change management within their organizations.

  • Clearly define the change and align it to business goals – The change should be a single description or document that anyone in your company should be able to read, understand, and take action on. Ensure the change will carry your business in the right direction strategically, financially, and ethically. 
  • Determine roles: To plan successfully for any change, there need to be proper roles assigned. Who plays what role can be the factor that decides whether the change implemented is successful or not. Identify the employees who can manage the responsibility of driving change in the company and determine their roles.
  • Decide on the necessary changes: Involve all the stakeholders in the project or company and discuss the changes that need to be made. Including stakeholders in the change process can offer valuable insight on what the best way will be to implement change, maximize profits, and stay true to their objectives at the same time.
  • Create the motivation for change: If the team members and employees are not motivated towards the change, it won’t be implemented properly. Creating a drive for change in the employees can improve the success rate of the adoption. Back up claims with facts and statistics. Taking a data-driven approach will help the employees see the benefits of adopting change and motivate them to do the same.
  • Monitor the changes: Once the changes have been implemented, they need to be monitored by those given the responsibility. The changes need to be closely monitored and communicated with all the stakeholders through clear, concise reports so that everyone involved can see the effects and progress of the implemented change.
  • Keep the team motivated with short-term objectives: While changing any process or strategy within the organization, employees may end up getting demotivated and slipping back into their old processes and habits. Create short-term objectives and goals as a way to keep team members aligned to the main goal and to keep them motivated to work with the change.
  • Define the end goal. The first key to impactful change management is to understand what the end goal is. When all is said and done, what is the actual change that needs to be made? The end goal may be splitting a team into two. It may be implementing a new software system. It may be the successful unveiling of a new website or product. Whatever it is, it’s key to define the end result so you can easily share it and get everyone on the same page about the change. 
  • Understand the impact of your changes. Once you know exactly what you wish to achieve and why, you should then determine the impacts of the change at various organizational levels. For some people, it may mean promotions or new hires. For others, it may mean a drastic change in their workflow or process. Some people may see small shifts, while others may see their entire work system change. It’s important to understand how this will impact everyone so you can know the best way to prepare and train them. Even small changes are important to understand and be prepared for. 
  • Identify key change leaders. In every successful change management process, there are champions or key change leaders that help drive success. Getting different team members to buy off and understand the changes will help impact the team in a positive way. Certain managers or employees who are directly impacted will appreciate being involved early-on in making decisions and have insight as to how this change will impact their team. They can be extremely helpful in creating a plan that will be a positive experience for others. 
  • Get your team excited about the change. In order to have a successful change, you’ll need to get the people impacted all on board. Start with a great kickoff meeting that can get everyone excited about the potential the change has. If you are able to point out great pros and rewards that come from the change, more of your team will be able to get on board quickly.
  • Plan for open communication. Determine the most effective means of communication for the group or individual that will bring them on board. Make a plan from the beginning to communicate to your team how the change is going. Weekly email updates or meetings can be a great way to make sure your team is all on the same page. Transparency is crucial to team members feeling invested and a part of the change, and if you can help employees feel confident in what they are learning about the change, they will likely have better outcomes.  
  • Look for road blocks and ways around them. An important part of change management is looking out for road blocks. As every part of the change comes, it’s important to think about what barriers could be in the way of success. When you’re able to identify barriers, you can find a way around them before they become huge problems. If you’re able to tell teams that you understand that this could be a problem, but you already are working out a solution, they’ll feel more confident as well. 
  • Set specific goals and milestones. Change can feel ambiguous and frustrating to people, so specific goals and milestones can help take the ambiguity out of change. Team members will know what they are working toward and will feel confident that they can reach their goal and milestone. It will also set timelines which can help employees feel more secure in what is expected of them, and when it’s expected. Being as specific as you’re able is greatly beneficial for change management. 
  • Provide effective training. Training will be crucial for a successful change in your organization. Teams may need training on new programs, software, or systems. New managers may need to be trained, employees may need to connect with their new managers, etc. Planning ahead for effective training will make sure that your changes are successful, that everyone understands how the new process works, and that everyone has the opportunity to ask questions if needed.
  • Celebrate success. After the change has been implemented, it’s time to celebrate the team’s hard work. It’s easy to overlook this step in your rush to focus on what’s next for your business, but it’s important to your team’s morale. 
  • Monitor your performance and adjust if needed. It’s important to know that if changes will be effective, you’ll need to regularly monitor and adjust. See how the changes are going and regularly ask your team how they are feeling. You may need to make adjustments in order for the changes to continue to be impactful over time. Utilize reports to understand how the changes are impacting people and the organization as a whole, and adjust as needed to ensure you continue to make the change impactful.

Final Thoughts

Change is a fundamental part of every company and is how businesses grow and evolve to be more successful.  Understanding what change management is gives you a glimpse into the discipline, but there is so much more to learn about the people side of change. Change management is a change in mindset in the employees that helps them adapt to changes within the company. Helping people move through change is one of the most important things a leader can do. If you don’t account for the human side of organizational change, you’re leaving success up to chance.

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