Thursday 3 February 2022

Change Management in project

Poor change management in the organization can destroy promising projects and even entire enterprises. Our task is to reveal the essence of change management in the organization and teach you how to respond correctly to changes in business processes. In this article, we'll look at the approaches, techniques, and pitfalls faced by change management managers.

We'll start by learning how to apply change management techniques at different levels of the organization, from project to business direction change or the entire company. 


Next, we'll look at the stages of change management within a project or as part of a separate change initiative in a company. Then we'll analyze the various components of change, including business process management, knowledge transfer, and the provision of relevant training. Competent change management is vital for organizations of almost any industry or level of management.

Levels of change management in the organization

Despite the growing popularity of the change management profession in our area, there are still a number of misconceptions about what change management really is.

Change management is aimed at ensuring the effectiveness of decisions in the direction of changes in the structure of the business. Change management managers in an organization work with senior management to determine the direction of future change and manage those changes in their organizations. They guarantee high-quality training of employees, effective training and make sure that the consequences of changes have a positive impact on business and people. It's not just training staff or informing people about changes, as many believe.

Change management in the organization is an understanding of corporate strategy and psychology of people

The change management manager is in constant contact with managers at different levels and different departments. The main goal here is not only to develop a strategy for high-quality training of employees, but also to understand their main concerns about the upcoming reforms and their role in the company.

To effectively implement changes in various structures of the company, use the following tips:

Raise awareness among managers you can reach out directly. They are your first contacts with whom you can discuss the effectiveness of future changes.

Use the most common methods to develop the skills of employees in your company.
Work with business analysts, project managers, and other change management managers to integrate your change efforts. This approach will help you develop an effective formula for planning, making decisions and implementing changes.

Look for middle managers as the primary driver of future change. They are close to real work and keep in touch with higher management, which, in turn, make changes within the organization.
The project manager strives to carefully plan and evaluate the results for accuracy. However, change management in an organization involves actions that cannot be measured objectively.

First, formulate and plan changes. While your tasks may differ, it's best to start with an action plan. It involves various activities that take into account all stakeholders. As part of this plan, make sure everyone clearly understands the purpose of the change. Be sure to indicate what this change means for the organization and for all parties involved.

Second, report on proposed reforms as early as possible. When there are prerequisites for change, people think through various negative scenarios and are in a state of uncertainty. Even if the changes are bad news, it's best that participants understand the implications and benefits of the changes and can deal with the facts rather than the rumors.

Third, take care to educate all participants in future changes. It should include an explanation of the reasons for future reforms, the process itself and the consequences. Participating in training helps people understand what you are trying to achieve.

Fourth, evaluate the new role changes that may arise as a result of your reforms. There are two very important reasons for this:

  • new roles should already be formed and working for your changes to be effective.
  • new roles will help participants transform their fear into a possible increase in productivity, i.e. motivate them. But only if the change of role is clear and the path from their current role to the new one is planned accordingly.
  • Fifth, make sure you have a measurement system in place. You have to evaluate the effectiveness of the changed processes. You may have to plan interim measurements as new processes are tested, and then the final objective measurements as the new processes stabilize. For example, if you're going to change your production line to increase production from five units a day to 10, you don't necessarily have to jump from five to 10. Your staff will have to get used to the new production procedures and maybe test the new equipment.

The Project Management Guide describes the need to manage organizational change quite well. For financial and business service organizations, business change is not only a feature of many projects in the sector, it is also one of the strategic drivers of productivity. Clear initiatives based on cultural values and strategic change are essential to the survival of organizations. These are often large, complex projects that need to be managed with care.

However, not all organizational change initiatives are the same. They fall into three categories defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI): first-order change, second-order change, and third-order change.

A first-order change involves customizing the processes and approaches used to perform specific work in an organization. Here you are looking for a gradual improvement where you can measure the results quite easily. Your team members can practice the changes you're trying to implement, and you can make adjustments before implementing them. First-order change initiatives can also be repeatedly implemented at all levels of the organization, and may even be canceled if the reforms do not meet the planned goals. First-order changes are the most direct, but they also require careful management, and you can spend a lot of money and time implementing them.
Organizational Change Management Layers

  • Second-order initiatives include multiple, significant reforms in the organization of business. Usually this is a reaction to significant changes in the market. There are many factors to consider in second-order initiatives, including new company policies, cultural changes, substantial job changes, training to support these changes, and new key process indicators. In many cases, these changes are so global and far-reaching that they cannot be reversed. These initiatives require careful planning and the support of employees is very important, as many of them will work in significantly changed roles when the changes have already taken effect.
  • Third-order reforms are rare, but they can be vital. It happens when businesses become obsolete as a result of progress. Just think of Kodak and Nokia. They almost disappeared because they didn't properly monitor the world around them and didn't take third-order change initiatives to survive. Data and Niciatives require exceptional skill and dedication. You should be one step away from the top management of the company, striving to change the very purpose of your organization's existence. In these initiatives, you need not only to manage second-order change elements, but also to track innovative trends and analyze the market.

Organizational changes are often required to maintain market share. Regardless of whether it will be a first-, second-order, or third-order change. These are quite complex actions that extend the capabilities of any change management team.

Stages of change management

Regardless of the scale of the changes, there are five stages to go through before implementing your plan for future change:

  • development and refinement of changes;
  • create a change implementation plan;
  • provide examples of early changes;
  • implementation and support;
  • strengthening and adjusting changes.
  • The first stage focuses on the development and refinement of changes. Initially, there is a simple idea, more of a slogan than a real initiative, for example: "the introduction of trainings to improve the knowledge of the staff." Next, it is necessary to clarify how exactly this idea will be implemented. For example, "we will create a training team to develop training material", "trainings will be held twice a month for each employee." All these initiatives include organizational reforms to increase the flexibility and quality of business.

Next comes the second phase – creating a plan for implementing changes. In this regard, attention is paid both to the creation of a training team and training of employees, and to the development of a schedule for the interaction of persons implementing changes with personnel and management. In addition, in order for employees to better understand their future roles, it is important to show them examples of future updated processes. Here we move on to the next stage.

The third step is to provide examples of early changes. Your organization is more likely to agree to reforms if it sees that you are making the right decisions and demonstrating the desired results.

The fourth stage is implementation and support. The moment of truth in any decision to implement future changes. At this stage, it is very important to monitor the results of changes and provide constant support to members of your team who may be struggling with new challenges in their work. Moderate perseverance and support is the key to helping your employees during this period.

The fifth phase is the strengthening and adjustment of the process. Although your reforms may lead to improvements, constant changes in the organization require constant monitoring and adjustment. Communicate with your employees, find out what works and what can be improved. Try your best to accept the ideas of the staff and bring them to life in order to get an additional contribution to your changes.

Any reforms in the business structure are stressful for the company and its employees. If you have a good idea how to improve a particular process, and you clearly believe in its effectiveness, it is important to correctly convey your vision to the authorities. What does it take?

  • First, it's important that you form good reasons for change. Otherwise, you will get weak support, which will be difficult to interact with. First of all, you need to make sure that your organization understands the meaning of future changes.
  • Secondly, it is important to create a clear picture of what everything will look like when the change passes the final stage. Once you've created a compelling reason for making the changes, create a picture or refine the potential results, and then choose the right approach.
  • Then you need to decide on your team and their potential. Your ability to manage organizational change is limited by the skilled talent you have. As part of the implementation of your project, introduce your change management agents and indicate what role each of them performs.
  • Finally, when you're at some point, go back and determine what other steps you need to take. This is sometimes referred to as result matching. When you create a project, it is very important to form a sequence of steps so that the team understands the process and can support your approach.
  • Be sure to highlight those elements that will change in the future, but also give equal weight to what will not change. 

This can be called creating a stability plan, because it is the stable elements that help your employees during the period of change. A few tips on how to create a plan with two groups of elements in mind:

Treat the change plan like a project. Create a schedule, list the risks and contingencies when the process can get out of hand.

Concentrate on building, maintaining, and monitoring support systems that can be built to help your employees. They can be: the human resources department, access to a psychologist within the walls of the company, access to managers who are involved in the change process, as well as informal information sharing groups where members of your team can ask questions or share ideas. Let employees know that these support channels exist, and when questions arise, they can quickly receive an answer. Nothing kills the initiative of change so quickly as an unresponsive support system.
Create a resistance plan. It is always necessary to take into account the future discontent of certain groups of people who will be affected by the coming changes. These can be: a change in the power of individual employees, a negative experience of introducing changes in the past, or simply the emotional instability of individuals. In such cases, develop your change plan in direct contact with the team, rely on the positive consequences of change, include individual employees in the implementation of your plan.

Creating and demonstrating a prototype of future changes will contribute to a better vision of the end result, which is useful both for your change implementation team and for the company's employees who need to familiarize themselves with future processes. At this stage, it is very important to track the early performance of the process (prototype) and adjust it if necessary. This allows you to try out your ideas earlier to understand whether they are viable. Consider the advantages of this approach:

  • early examples are a great tool as they will show the weaknesses of your changes or the instructions that have been developed to implement them.
  • helps management and the change development team demonstrate their personal commitment to change through action.
  • help you see how different groups understand, apply, and accept changes in their field.
  • gives you more time to work on the final product – the results;
  • will help to conduct an assessment of the impact on the business.
  • For future reforms to work effectively, let's look at a few important elements that need to be included in the implementation phase.

The first is the right educational program. In many cases, most projects fail because of the wrong approach to the learning process. This may be due to teaching employees too early about the scheduled date of changes or creating short, uninformative trainings. In the first case, try to organize training closer to the date of changes. In the second case, create training material not only in the form of trainings in the classroom, but also in the form of demonstration material: videos, infographics, instructions in PowerPoint.

The second is to create a group of the most trained employees from different teams, i.e. the so-called champions. They need to help workers in their teams better adapt to change. It's good to have one champion for 20 people in a group. This may seem very ambitious, however, significant changes require the same significant support in implementation.

Third, focus on the activities of the first day separately from those you have planned for the second stage. The second stage comes about 3-4 months after the start of the main stage, when the initial changes are already implemented and work. The second stage is required to remove the temptation to use all the tools and processes immediately in the early days to demonstrate the benefits to the business as soon as possible. Since the problems and shortcomings from the implementation of changes at the first stage can be solved by the planned activities at the second.

Fourth, focus on the big picture of the results. This means that you must respond quickly and decisively to all the difficulties that have arisen in the implementation of your plan.

The preparatory stage has been passed and the reforms you have planned have been implemented. It is now important to consistently adjust and maintain them to ensure positive results for the business. Here are a few guidelines to follow in this final step:

  • Set the measurement method. At this point, it's important to tune and monitor performance according to the business outcomes you identified at the beginning of your plan. Remember that some of these results may be subjective and you can organize public opinion polls in the enterprise to obtain objective data to measure.
  • Manage the processes taking place. Adjust what's going on, but don't change the implementation process too soon if the deficiencies can't be fixed with the help of employees. Be open to new suggestions and recommendations regarding your implementation plan.
  • Focus on people with new or significantly changed roles. They are the main link in improving the process of change. Always be prepared to explain or clarify controversial issues regarding the change process.
  • The issue of communications in the process of implementing changes in the organization
When we talk about communications in change management in the organization, it is important to determine the message that you want to convey to other participants, whether they are managers, employees of the company or its customers. This is not so easy to do, as many actions are performed during the organizational change process. However, this can be achieved by using the following steps:

  • First, define the process of transmitting information. Because reforms involve many moving parts and key players, their status and current direction can change frequently. As a result, it is very important that you establish a consistent approach to getting the most important and up-to-date information from your company's customers.
  • Create a business impact analysis template. This is an important document that outlines the elements of the changes you are going to make. At a minimum, it should include:
  • the field of activity or areas affected;
  • affected roles, such as a customer or help desk agent.
  • level of exposure, from small to large;
  • the nature of the changes required;
  • strategy for implementing changes;
  • responsible persons for monitoring the results of changes.

Describe the current situation and what will change in this area as a result of your project. If you know, add the time when the change occurs.
Cite the problem(s) that can also be solved by the change in question. What problem are you trying to solve?
Affected roles

Specify the position or department affected (if the change affects the functions of the entire department)

Description of the impact

Describe the nature of the change and how it will change the approach or processes that employees will use in their work

Describe what employees will need to do differently

Change Management Strategy

Describe how you will implement, monitor and track the success of your changes

Who is in charge?

Who will manage the changes on an ongoing basis (This is NOT the project manager; this is the COO or project manager)

Maintain a dialogue between the management team to respond in time to their suggestions for improving the change process. Follow and edit the business impact analysis document you created by participating in discussions with department heads. Because they may have other ideas about the success of the project, it's important that you listen to them and evaluate their thoughts.

Integration of management mechanisms in the customer support service. This should be done so that your customers always receive updated information, and support staff can make timely decisions.

Any change in the work of the organization is quite complex and not always understandable to everyone. Sometimes you need to spend a lot of time to explain to all participants the essence of your decisions regarding future changes. In order for the stakeholder to understand the motives behind your decisions, you should provide them with full information about why you are making these changes and how you are going to implement them.

  • The first step in explaining why you made this decision is to clearly state the purpose of the change. Most often, the goal is to make a profit, but most organizations have a concomitant motive, such as gaining more market share, gaining a competitive advantage or entering new markets. Therefore, do not allow stakeholders to guess about the goals of future reforms.
  • The second step is to convey a sense of consistency to what you're doing. New ideas are replaced by other new ideas, so the reforms you propose and their impact on business should be long-term.
  • The third step involves explaining how your idea will be implemented. There are a number of important points to consider when describing how you will approach the implementation of the idea. What new tools and processes are you going to use? This point is very important, because with their help you are going to train stakeholders. This includes: conducting trainings in classrooms, creating info graphics, videos, access of employees to instructions or a team of trainers in case of controversial issues.Step four. Indicate the indicators by which progress will be measured. Indicators by which you will know that you are moving in the right direction
  • And the last thing is decision-making. Any change process involves several important decisions and perhaps hundreds of tactical ones. The stakeholder should clearly understand by whom and how decisions will be made in the process of change.

Contingency management

As a result of significant organizational changes, there is a high probability of occurrence of all sorts of unforeseen circumstances that can confuse you or stop your work. Therefore, it is very important that you spend some time focusing on managing risks and problems.

Risk is something that can happen, but has not yet affected the process of implementing reforms. So you can try to manage risk. On the other hand, problems are those things that have happened and affect the progress of your changes right now. Thus, you should immediately respond to the problem in order to solve the difficulties that have arisen.

Let's focus a bit on risks, as proper risk management can prevent problems from occurring. In every process to change something, there are various kinds of risks. However, there are also general categories of risks that we will try to consider:

  • The risk may be associated with the acceptance of your changes by all participants to whom they apply. An effective strategy to mitigate this risk is to analyze participants and consider increasing the chances of them accepting your changes. Certain actions on the part of management or the creation of an alternative group of participants that may affect a particular area of the business are effective mitigation measures that should be considered.
  • Departure of key persons from business. This risk can have several consequences. First, the departure of competent employees can signal to other employees that your reforms are negatively affecting the work process. Second, the departure of key employees can destroy the management pyramid of a new process. To mitigate this risk, try to create groups of several people from each department who receive all the information about the process, and are able to duplicate each other.
  • Unpreparedness of business for the coming changes. The main mitigating action in this direction is to conduct a readiness assessment, i.e. assessment of skills. This process analyzes the overall degree of change that is taking place in your business and the degree of collaboration between departments where the changes will be substantial.

When problems arise, you, as an organizational change management manager, do not have to solve everything yourself. An effective method is to delegate problem solving to your team members, and you will be able to track the progress they have made in solving the difficulties that have arisen.

Now let's look at some of the tools that managers use in managing business processes during the implementation of changes. Let's list them in the following order:

  • A permanent governing body that takes various kinds of decisions. This committee is active during the implementation phase of your project, but it is still very important to keep it after the process is completed, because sometimes adjustments to changes and their compatibility with future projects in the business are required.
  • A set of metrics that will measure the effectiveness of your changes. For example, this may be the volume of products of the converted production line or the number of errors reported in the program code of a new digital product.
  • Implement sustainable change within the organization. Here are a few common elements that are useful to implement for a long period:
  • new tools for measuring the effectiveness of employees. If you've implemented changes to processes, the way you measure the success of your employees is likely to change;
  • a policy review board related to the steering committee, which we talked about a little earlier. This board consists of key employees and managers who ensure the clarity and effectiveness of the new policy. They may make recommendations to the steering committee for changes or adjustments;
  • A new set of criteria for project approval. If you've changed the way you work and implemented new business benefits, any new project should support those new benefits. Thus, the criteria for project approval should be updated;

Updated training plan for new employees. Training should not end after the completion of the change project. It is necessary to constantly introduce new approaches to learning based on your innovation.

The human factor in the process of change management in the organization

Now let's focus on human needs and emotional factors. People rarely change unless they feel a good personal reason to do so. Creating a need for reform is critical to maintaining the momentum needed for your proposed changes to become a reality. Let's consider several ways how this can be ensured:

  • tell how the challenges facing the organization will directly affect people if the reforms are not implemented;
  • discuss current market circumstances or policy assumptions that make change a priority, not just a corporate directive.
  • make sure team leaders are communicating in the right direction and don't downplay the circumstances for future changes.
  • discuss the benefits of the changes, as well as the consequences of their absence, and don't forget to write down the reasons why staying put is not an option.
  • provide information from different sources. Some will believe the statistics, others will react to the real story. Someone trusts the statistics provided by the organization, and someone believes external sources.

Remember that implementing change is a personal exercise. Your information sharing needs can be tailored to your specific change goals, the situation in your company, and the circumstances of the people you work with. You will be more successful in your field if you share your vision of where you are going. There are several factors that need to be considered when voicing your ideas:

  • Look for those corporate values that are embraced by your employees. Because your project can change or potentially improve these values, it's important that you include these details in creating the overall value of future changes.
  • Adapt your draft changes to the adopted corporate strategy. Your chances will increase if people understand how your reforms will have a positive impact on the development of the company.
  • Create priority goals. Your employees should be focused on the highest priorities. Defining your goals and priorities will help stakeholders take the right action at any time.
  • Make sure your priority is the normal activities of the organization and teams are not under pressure from your ambitions. For example, if you are carrying out reforms in the sales department, then it is important for you that the team works as usual, but at the same time, smoothly implements your ideas.
  • No matter how gifted a person may be, they are not able to implement a project of change on their own. To do this, you need to create a team with the right composition, training and support in order to successfully implement your ideas. The basis of this team should be the so-called champions, who are also called champions in the implementation of changes or champion departments. They need to be able to understand your reform agenda, adopt it, validate the results, and integrate those changes into their department. There are three main elements in managing this leadership team.

First, choosing the right people to serve as champions. Look for people who are excited about the reforms you have proposed. However, enthusiasm is not the only criterion. They need to balance that with healthy skepticism to protect the business. Along with enthusiasm, champions will work with other people in their department. Choose people who are respected by their colleagues.

Secondly, providing quality training to selected champions. It is an almost continuous process. Here are some nuances of providing quality training:

  • A personalised approach that ensures your champions know what you're doing and how you'll make changes. It's important that they ensure that their part of the business doesn't suffer from any changes you make.
  • Testing or evaluation in training, allowing your champions to properly test modified business elements. This approach also helps your champions train other employees in their department.
  • Third, support for learning systems. Champions will need specific help and support to accomplish their tasks. They need to know how to solve the problems they face. Arrange for your champions to have access to all training materials and the opportunity to get the necessary answers from the team of coaches or you personally.

The reforms that you're making can not only improve the business, but also open up opportunities for new changes. If you improve something in one part, it can cause slowdowns in another part of the company's business. For example, if you improve the production of parts by producing 10 pieces per hour instead of five, you can put pressure on the packaging and product delivery department located further away, so improvements in product production can provoke a revision and improvement of the workflow in other departments.

Sometimes small reforms in one area can inspire other people to come up with more substantial and viable ideas. Once a change has been implemented, it's a smart move to review all the metrics of the process and then listen to your employees' ideas as they emerge. In the same way, you can identify the weaknesses of your project, but make sure that any new ideas are properly thought out. and there is a reasonable business case for further changes. In this way, successful reforms can lead to new opportunities, identify improvements elsewhere, and drive improvements in other areas of your business.


The benefits of successful change management in your organization are significant. As you manage larger and more ambitious change initiatives, your chances of facing cultural and organizational challenges increase. Your overall success may depend on your ability to proactively identify and address these issues.

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