10 Steps to Defining a Change Management Strategy

Define a Change Management Strategy – Describing and Documenting the change desired

It’s sometimes much clearer to understand that change is necessary than it is to actually define it, and these 10 critical steps will help you define a change management strategy, to get to that point, and beyond. It is necessary to understand a few fundamentals, describe them and discuss widely to get a consensus, without which the change will never get off the ground. A business case for the change must be created to put the change in terms that show where the problem lies, why the change is required and why there not just a favourable but compelling business case. The objective of following these 10 steps is to get to a point where this business case can be signed off and the change is accepted as not just necessary but committed to as part of your defining your change management strategy. 

 

1) Define, delineate and agree on the business case for the change that you believe is needed. Your business case must clearly state the drivers of the change.

In order to this, we must arrive at clarity as to what it is that needs to change or that would be changing if the business case were to be signed off. To do this, clarity needs to exist as to what the current state is, what the gaps are in the status quo and the impact of those gaps. It should be possible to answer why these create disadvantages, pain and constraints plus explain what opportunities are to be gained from their remediation.

2) Terms of Reference

In defining these problems, gaps and deficits there should be a common understanding of what the problem is, its dimensions in terms of impact, risk and opportunity cost. There should be clarity amongst all those who are affected by it, what the problem statement is and the terms in which this is stated should be recognised and agreed to by all relevant parties.

For this to be as useful as it can, it must fulsomely explain why the change is sought and why the business needs to change in this way. A good change manager can help you position the answers to this questions in terms of benefits for the impacted classes of stakeholders and help to adequately communicate what the change will mean for people’s day to day job, which will be a primary concern, and if not communicated properly, can lead to a high level of resistance to change. People tend to resist change and so a big part of the 10 steps to define a change management strategy ensures this message is considered fully from the outset to facilitate the right conversations and get participation from everyone.

 

3) Target Operating Model Ambition

The third step of the 10 steps to defining your change management strategy is one of the most challenging. It’s easier to say what you don’t want but is it enough to say you want something that does not do what your current state does? It’s obviously not. The definition is driven by what you need to be able to do and how and defines the target operating model.

Almost as much as a problem statement needs to have a common language of expression, the future desired statement should have a common language of hope and ambition. This requires detailed discussion, clarity and documentation on what success would be, from the outset, tracking changes and deviations from it minutely, as well as the reason for the variation. This will change often as the project advances but as the way clears, so the solution clarifies. As the solution clarifies, it should be easier to know and express what successful change would look like.

Defining a change managemet strategy and Culture as part of Ecosystems

 

The dimensions of change will tend to describe metrics most people will recognise as project parameters but only a few can be defined at the outset because the others, like budget, necessarily depend on the other dimensions of change, and then, of course, the scope, which will be discussed further below. 

  • Business Change = The objectives derived from the problem statement and desired state statements.
    • The business change objectives may lead to clarity on the technology, IT and tools + architecture and other technical changes that are needed to support the business change
    • Technology Architecture Model Change
    • Structural Objectives
    • Physical Change objectives
  • Human Change – attitudes, processes, operations, relationships, layers, functional lines of business, roles and responsibilities, communications and handoffs
    • Human change objectives and the change strategy
    • Behaviours to be modified, in which areas and why, and what it will mean for functional architecture, lines of business, leadership, process designs and roles and responsibilities. Attitudinal changes require a clear core strategy to achieve these changes, especially if restructuring is involved, because as discussed in this blog, people resist change, and quite understandably so.
  • Organisational Change – Business Model, supplier, stakeholder, communication channels

At the early stages it is possible that pragmatically time and budget objectives may be set provisionally but without clarity and agreement and cost estimates on the agreed objectives, it is certainly very difficult to define the other dimensions of change but they will need to be at some point. 

  • Time Objectives
  • Budget Objectives
  • Quality Objectives defined by agreed KPIs. 

Key Performance Metrics (KPIs) will be established to measure these objectives, which must be tracked and monitored with issues raised when any of these falls short.

Required or Desired

As the 10 steps to defining your change management strategy progress, it is necessary to ask frequently and repeatedly as the changes are whether the change is required, i.e. absolutely necessary, pivotal and a is a priority or desired – strong reasons to have it but is not a deal-breaker. Change requirements, when built should be annotated in this respect and should keep this assignment as the high-level changes are decomposed. This question considers the implications and risks of not changing from both the business and human change perspectives.

As the change is being defined, and the operating model ambitions are conceived, it is necessary to understand if and where there is a need for behavioural, attitudinal and capability change with relation to the current state.  These gaps must be clearly identified and described under the human/people change element of defining the change. If you would like some help with defining a change management strategy at pace, get in contact.

4) Scope of Change

With clarity on the objectives, it may be time to prioritise them and create an outline of what needs to change. Even in large scale transformations, some things do not stay the same, not least for continuity but also because sometimes it is judged more pragmatic to maintain the status quo if it can continue to function in the to-be state. This will be the scope of change.

It will need to be defined against the following elements:

    • Business Architecture
    • System and Technical Architecture
    • Organisational Change Design and Functional Operational and People

5) Dependencies

Once there is clarity on all the objectives, and they are prioritised, It’s now possible to flesh out the dependencies and conflicts from the objectives. This refers to trying to understand and visualise the order of works, critical to workstreams and phasing and prioritising the works within phases too.

6) Risks and Assumptions 

These latter conflicts, as well as the dependencies, will drive the initial risks and assumptions of the change program and it is very important to be as detailed as possible as these stages and also extremely diligent in capturing them.

7) Pre- Business Case sign off Time Estimates and Initial Resourcing Estimates

The estimates worked out prior to the business case being signed off and the plan encountering the enemy – reality – can be subject to wild levels of change and adjustment. The time and cost metrics can be extremely unstable at this phase of the process. It makes sense to get professional help to get these and set a reasonable and realistic degree of tolerance. The more teams and specialities are required, and the more complex and in depth the transformation, the greater the order of magnitude by which the time and cost may increase.

8) Implementation Team Plan and Methodology Considerations

It is absolutely necessary to consider which change models might be employed. The more human/people change objectives and organisation transformation objectives, the more important it will be to not only have a clear methodology view for planning, implementation and delivery from a project perspective but also from a change perspectives. Two very effective and popular change methodologies are:

PM methodologies are Prince 2 and PMI models. Delivery Methodologies vary but Agile methodologies are extremely effective, although waterfall models have remained popular.

9) Sponsor and Governance Model Proposals

Change sponsors are crucial and large scale transformations are likely to have several sponsors. If the business case is signed off, the program will require stringent governance by people who will be accountable for the program and will appoint the program manager or project manager to have responsibility for delivering the project.

10) Business Case Sign Off

If you have gotten to this stage without help,  it is now time to decide the ‘who’ on the implementation side – will you use inhouse resources or partner with a coach or Program management/ implementation partners? 

Now is the time to decide the best way to proceed and who will help to realise the vision of the change that was enshrined in the business case, right at the start. On the basis of the above, it can then be decided if there is the risk appetite, budget and bandwidth in the organisation to undertake this change. 

If the business case has been produced for defining a change management strategy, then it will be a very well-articulated case for the change that explains all that needs to be changed, the drivers and the reasons why the change is required and there is a common language describing both the problem and the required solution, along with the KPIs. It is very important that the sponsors are identified with the impact of the change on them and their role in bringing forth the change is.

If the sign off is received, it will be time to validate the estimates and create formal change artefacts to get things moving.

Chinenye Ikwuemesi
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