How to Create an Effective Change Management Plan

Change management involves a significant degree of planning and emphasis on communication. So how can you create an effective change management plan?

Effective change management involves a significant degree of planning and emphasis on communication. With approximately 50% of organizations failing to successfully integrate changes within an established organizational structure, you must understand how you’ll need to plan for, coordinate, and manage change for your project to succeed. 

Four Elements of an Effective Change Management Plan 

1. Create Organizational Understanding

Democratizing change is an important aspect of enabling new iterations to occur. If members of your organization don’t have a vested interest in a change management process, it’ll be much more difficult to transition. 

Prepare your team by helping them understand the problem at hand and how implementing your new technology or process can eliminate or reduce an issue your business is currently facing. Allow organization members to ask questions and invite them to offer suggestions and alternatives. 

After actively listening to the concerns of your team members, create an opportunity for your employees to buy in and become problem-solvers for your organization. 

2. Assemble a Change Management Team (or Partner with Professionals)

Following the buy-in of your organization members, it’s time to get a team together to help you implement the change management plan and ensure it sticks. Based on your organization’s vision of change, meet with leaders who will be impacted and identify the number of team members you’ll need to accomplish your tasks. 

Some projects will require a core team, such as a project manager, liaisons, individuals with technical expertise, and those responsible for analysis. Dependent on bandwidth and your goals, your team can be adjusted and reevaluated based on the skills you need during the integration process. Remember to be mindful of how much additional work you may assign to your team members and if they’ll have the capacity to get it done. 

Organizations sometimes work with external experts to build models, structure guidelines, and seamlessly integrate transitions. POPULUS Technology, a leader in helping organizations integrate new processes like automation tools, can even create custom solutions to resolve your organizational issues without you having to overload your teams. 

3. Define Your Goals

Although most organization leaders feel they have more than one process that needs to evolve or want to integrate multiple types of technology to overhaul current operations, it’s essential to fight these urges and structure your goals into  S.M.A.R.T goals. 

Specific: You need to be clear about what your goals are going to be to carry them out successfully. Remember, your teams need to be invested. If you can’t clearly define the issue and what’s required to implement a change management plan, you’ll have difficulty ensuring that the change sticks. Here are some questions you can start by asking. 

  • What does the organization want to accomplish? 
  • When would the organization need to complete this? 
  • Who are the stakeholders in this process? 
  • Why is the goal important?
  • What are possible barriers to the success of this organizational change? 

Measurable: Measuring the success of a project is vital throughout the project’s life cycle. If you don’t know where you are, you’ll never know exactly where you’re going or how long it might take.

For long-term projects, create measurable sub-tasks or short-term goals to which your teams can hold themselves accountable. Establishing milestones, giving feedback, and adjusting your goals accordingly give you a more accurate picture of where you stand. 

Achievable: If your team is working at capacity, loading them up with more work will fracture your existing organizational structure and increase resentment. However, your organizational goals become more realistic if your organizational task is achievable according to your team’s work capacity. 

In creating an achievable goal, you’ll need to define the scope of your project, your team’s capacity, and the timeline. Also, ensure that your team has the tools necessary to accomplish your goals. 

Relevant: if you’re trying to implement a new CMS but still have data silos around your organization, you may need to reevaluate where your goals should start. Always ensure your goals align with your company’s objectives and can be successfully integrated into your current organizational structure. 

Time-Based: Anyone can set goals, but organizations make goals actionable by setting reachable timelines. Before your project gets underway, set goal deadlines for your long-term project completion and your short-term subtasks. Remember, if you make your timeline unrealistic, some employees may work harder to institute the change, but others will view it as a lost cause, and you’ll have lost all of the employee buy-ins you won earlier. 

4. Support the Change with Communication & Training

Expecting to implement a change management plan and having insufficient training is like buying a Harley and not knowing how to ride a bike. Constant communication is vital if an organization is going to overhaul an existing process successfully. Explaining specific changes, how they’ll impact current flow, and ensuring questions are answered throughout the process can make or break the effectiveness of an undertaking. 

Be intentional in your messaging and understand the value of communication throughout the process, as it will be the precedent by which you lead your following projects. Sometimes communication involves training participants in your organization. Many programs can be accessed online, and ensuring each employee has the same understanding of how a new integration may work can create a baseline that everyone can understand. 

Continue Monitoring and Look for Feedback

Integrating an effective change management plan means monitoring the results of an organizational adjustment. Ask questions of impacted employees and ensure that you don’t have a closed-off feedback loop after the changes are made. 

Your ability to adjust is just as important as your ability to implement. You will run into hiccups, issues, and hurdles, but by communicating effectively and trusting your team, you’ll have an effective strategy to continue improving your organization as needed.

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