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Change management is a process that allows you to manage the impact of change on your business. Change can come in many forms, from shifting market conditions to revised regulations and new technologies. When change occurs, it can disrupt your organization and threaten its ability to function. Change management helps you anticipate and plan for the impact of change so that any disruption to your business remains manageable. This article first explains what change management is and why it’s necessary for companies that operate in dynamic markets. It then outlines the primary principles of effective change management processes, including why they’re required, how they help you remain agile as an organization, and key considerations when designing them within your business operations.
What Is Change Management?
A change management process is a strategy or procedure you employ to manage the impact of change on your organization. It’s necessary for all organizations that operate in dynamic markets or face shifting regulatory environments. Change affects every business, but the best organizations plan for it and implement systems to help deal with that change effectively. Change management processes include change strategy and road mapping, change management governance, and communication and training around change. Change management is a cyclical process that begins before a modification occurs and runs through the aftermath and recovery from it. Change can be both expected and unexpected. To be effective, change management processes must account for every type of modification. This includes establishing protocols for how to respond to unanticipated change.
Why is Change Management Processes Necessary?
Change management processes are necessary because organizations don’t exist in static environments. Instead, they operate in competitive business environments where conditions are constantly shifting. As a result, change will always be a regular occurrence in most organizations. Change can come in many forms, from shifting market conditions to revised regulations and new technologies. When change occurs, it can disrupt your organization and threaten its ability to function. Change management helps you anticipate and plan for the impact of change so that any disruption to your business remains manageable. Change management is particularly critical in industries that experience high levels of regulatory change, such as healthcare and financial services. Robust change management processes can help your organization minimize the impact of regulatory change and remain compliant. In addition, change management helps prepare your organization to respond to unanticipated shifts in technology and market demand. This enables your organization to continue to be agile and responsive.
Key Considerations When Designing Change Management Processes
Organizations that manage change effectively have systems in place to respond to change before it happens and recover quickly. Organizations that don’t handle change effectively find themselves constantly reacting to change, which can significantly disrupt their business. Communication and training are essential to managing change. Organizations must effectively communicate upcoming changes to employees, partners, and customers to know what to expect. They must also train employees and partners to respond to those changes when they occur. All change is not created equal. There are three types of change that organizations must respond to:
Transformation: A transformation is a change that is required to achieve an organization’s strategy. It’s a permanent change that will last for the foreseeable future. Transformation can include pivoting the business model or completely overhauling product or service offerings.
Transitions: Transitions are temporary changes. They’re often prompted by external factors and are expected to last no longer than a few years. Transitions often include regulatory changes or shifts in technology standards.
Emergencies: Emergencies are unanticipated changes that require an immediate response. They can be caused by natural disasters or other internal or external factors.
Defining Your Change Management Strategy and Roadmap
Change management processes start with an effective change management strategy. A change management strategy outlines the conditions that trigger change management planning, the changes that require a change management process, and the desired outcomes of these processes. Change management strategies should be applied to all departments and functions within your organization. This helps ensure that all relevant change is managed effectively and consistently. Once you’ve established your change management strategy, you’ll need to create a roadmap that outlines the process for managing change. The roadmap should include details such as who is responsible for initiating and managing change, how change is reported, and the process for evaluating and approving changes proposed by employees.
Ongoing Governance of the Change Management Process
Change management processes can be prone to over-engineering, but they must also be robust enough to manage unexpected changes. Change management processes are ongoing and should be managed by a governance committee. This committee should consist of senior leaders from across the organization tasked with overseeing the change management process. The committee should review the roadmap for the change management process and adjust it as necessary, approve all change requests, and review all change reports. The committee should meet regularly, either as a group or in subcommittees, to discuss the change management process’s state and consider ways to improve it. The committee should also regularly review metrics around change management, such as the number and types of changes reported, to ensure the process is operating effectively.
Change is inevitable, and organizations need to manage the impact of that change on their business. Change management is the process that allows you to do this by anticipating and planning for the effects of change so that any disruption to your business remains manageable. Change management begins with an effective change management strategy. This strategy outlines the conditions that trigger change management planning, the types of changes that require a change management process, and the desired outcomes of those processes. A change management roadmap details the process for managing change. It includes details such as who is responsible for initiating and managing change, how change is reported, and how it is approved. The change management process is ongoing and operated by a governance committee.