Tools for Your Change Management Toolkit
In creating an environment of change, tools and technology play a key role alongside controls, people and process. A well-outfitted toolkit for change management will include strategy and plan documents, models, maps, spreadsheet-based templates, audit or assessment questionnaires, review checklists and dashboards. The various tools may be accessible through a web-based interface or via single-user or enterprise applications.
The purpose of the toolkit is to enable the change team to assess the need for change and establish a strong case for it. Tools can help to identify those who will be affected by an organisation’s change and prioritize the stakeholders systematically. They can provide communication channels for conveying messages and engaging people in the change process. Throughout the execution of change during the engagement journey, change can be assessed using survey tools to gauge acceptance and review readiness levels. And dashboards can display performance indicators that measure and help users track the benefits from delivered change.
In this article we explore several types of tools and technology that you’ll come across in the course of a change programme and explain how they can make a difference between success and failure.
Each tool or product is appropriate for managing the transition at a given stage in the change lifecycle:
- Identifying the need for change and engaging leadership
- Identifying and assessing stakeholders
- Creating a sense of urgency and ownership
- Identifying, conveying and enabling quick wins
- Keeping up the drumbeat of conveying change’s importance
- Defining measures and hand holding the business through the cultural change journey in alignment with the measures; and
- Embedding the change in organisational “veins” and introducing sustainability measures.
Tools to Help Organizations Prepare for Change
In any change initiative, your change management strategy drives the plan and the plan drives the actions. The change team needs to perform regular assessments at different stages of the change lifecycle. These assessments will start right from evaluation of the current state of the organisation during the identification stage to checking leadership alignment and readiness of the firm for change.
Throughout the execution of the change, Change Readiness Assessments can perform a “health check” of the change engagement. The assessment constitutes a change-related questionnaire that evaluates stakeholder groups and their readiness levels with respect to change. It does this by clustering the questions into categories and allows identification of change focus areas for a particular stakeholder pool.
In an alternate scenario when the company is in the middle of a portfolio change initiative, using the readiness assessment will help you understand where you are, find any gaps or reinforce your position in the journey.
Additional Reading: Check out our case study on Change Management for ERP Systems to see how we applied the Change Readiness Assessment to Role Mapping
Managing change is about creating the sustained culture of responsiveness and acceptance to change. A detailed assessment is needed to evaluate the organisational and cultural change in the beginning as well as during execution and sustaining stages; its purpose is to indicate to company leaders what’s working well for the organisation and where there are opportunities for improvement. Areas of the assessment questionnaire could include roles and responsibilities, ways of working and a section of questions on people’s behavioural traits that could impact organisational outcomes.
Tools for Identifying and Assessing Stakeholders
The change team needs to profile and prioritise the individual stakeholders involved who will be affected by the change as part of their action plan for maintaining sustainable relationships throughout the change lifecycle.
The Stakeholder Analysis profile is used as part of the communications plan to manage communications with the stakeholder audience effectively. The stakeholder management tool is employed right from the beginning stages of change and maintained throughout its execution. The tool helps capture and collate stakeholder information and characteristics.
The tool takes that recorded profile information and builds a stakeholder map that is used as a key input to the stakeholder management strategy. Specific engagement activities with stakeholders will be tracked and updated by the change team throughout the delivery. The tool that builds this stakeholder map is the stakeholder management utility, which evaluates metrics such as stakeholder interest, influence and the change impact. These metrics are shown on the stakeholder map using a 3D graphical representation.
Tools for Managing Communications
Stakeholder profiling will then feed into the Communication Plan that constitutes specific actions for engagement. These include daily updates for a stakeholder group, monthly webinars for another group, quarterly monthly milestone reports along with financials for yet another… You get the point.
A communication audit at the end of each stage boundary or gateway leading to the next stage of change helps assess the communication channels and processes and ensures compliance to the plan. The plan needs to reflect sustained communications intended to win hearts and minds throughout the change journey.
The channels that enable planned, targeted communications need to be timely, frequent, and relevant and have meaning for people — the chief agents of this change. In the area of communication channels, it’s not like it was even five years ago. “Pull” has become preferable in communications to “push.” Email could have less impact on your people than, for instance, web portals, which can act as collaborative platforms for communications. The communications plan includes the target stakeholder groups, the key messages to be conveyed, timing and channels of communication, the source of communication and the subsequent results of the communications. It’s an extremely powerful tool aligned with the communication strategy and is built in the beginning stages of the change journey to be regularly referenced throughout the programme.
Additional Reading: To see how we tailored a communications plan for a client, check out our case study on Changing Behaviors at the Cyber Security Front Line.
Tools for Sustaining Change
In anticipation of successful execution of change activities, the change team needs to be prepared with a mechanism to sustain change and measure its continued impact:
- That the change adoption is sustained or increased
- That the change has stabilised and is now part of day-to-day business activity; and
- That the benefits of the delivered change are tracked to support the changing culture and show success for the initiative.
What’s important at this stage is to have a mechanism for collecting and collating feedback to detect gaps and manage adoption. A review tool will help to track sustainability and ensure change activities are embedded into operational business. A benefits tracker will help monitor and report on the value delivered by the change engagement.
In addition, communicating and celebrating success during cultural change is equally important to ensure the people are part of the success. Having the right communication channels such as a news portal with a process in line with the communication plan ensures that “wins” and messages are conveyed regularly and reach the audience to keep them reliably informed of the successes from the change journey.
Tools for Managing Regulatory Change
Frequently, change comes about by external forces, such as regulator mandates that require an organization to do something different. This requires bringing people on board and creating an environment that receives, responds and adapts effectively to regulatory change. A response strategy and action plan are required to accommodate types of regulation affecting the business.
Because the change is due to an external variable and independent of time, a reliable and agile mechanism is needed to process the “noise” from the regulatory environment and capture information in the form of the news feeds from the media and relay the business-relevant information on an information center or “dashboard.” The business will need to measure the impact of the change in terms of cost and benefit. A risk assessment needs to be carried out to help measure the risks identified along with mitigation actions. The collated data can be reported, and the reporting can drive the informed decision-making process.
The use of a unified calendar of events will help in synchronizing the teams’ schedules and supporting the communications plan. The system needs to reflect the methodology to manage, sustain and audit regulatory change. The audit needs to ask and assure of key questions such as:
- Does the communications strategy clearly articulate the drivers of the regulatory change?
- Do stakeholders have visibility of changes to the communications strategy?
- Have key messages that need to be conveyed been identified and defined in order to ensure consistent communication to the intended stakeholder groups?
Managing Technological Change
Deployment of an enterprise project management (EPM) solution or an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution are instances of technology-enabled business change. The implementation of these products requires change management to ensure that the new technology is adopted by users in the business unit or wider organisation and that the transition in culture is managed seamlessly.
Early on when engaging with your leadership to define and communicate the vision for change, it’s vital for the communication strategy to convey the importance and give the big picture within which the technology solution fits. That’s the only way for the leadership to grasp the importance of the change. The resultant communication plan helps those executives reach out more effectively to the user communities in different business units to explain the need for the change and winning buy-in.
More rigour is needed to ensure user acceptance of the software solution. This may call for defining a focus group of users and nominating ownership. By involving users with the system specifications early on in the journey and engaging with them for testing of the solution, you’ll have more success with user adoption and buy-in.
The user acceptance test (UAT) plan document is useful for ensuring that the users feel part of the deployment and have played a role in its successful implementation. This UAT document is driven by a “test strategy” document, which is, in turn, used as a communications toolkit to build the confidence of the users that have helped define the requirements. The use cases derived from these requirements help build the test cases for the test plan.
Driving Sustainable Change Successfully
The tools you use during a change initiative will drive cost savings and sustainable improvements while facilitating change and change adoption. Tools need to work hand in hand with professional resources (such as those provided by MI-GSO | PCUBED) and principles such as Lean and Six Sigma.
Technology is an enabler of change. Investing in the right technology to manage and sustain change will help reduce overall risk and drive cost savings. Consultancy services equipped with the right tools and the abilities to use them efficiently and effectively help organisations understand, manage and sustain the journey of change.
For more information about our Change Management Services and how we at MI-GSO | PCUBED can help
Sharath Kumar is an EPM Consultant in MI-GSO | PCUBED’s CSG Team and based in London. As a certified project and portfolio management practitioner, he has worked on initiatives with public sector, time-to-market, manufacturing, financial services, energy and nuclear clients. Sharath’s advisory experience covers a broad range of services: portfolio optimization, value engineering, change management and IT transformation. Sharath currently owns the Knowledge Management workstream that champions thought leadership in the organization.