Plan the change

Steps to plan for change

The "plan for change" goes hand in hand with initiating and planning phases of  project management

1. Understand the change

2. Get a change team in place

3. Do a readiness assessment 

4. Map & analyze your stakeholders

1. Understanding the change & its impact

Same as a project charter before we start the change journey, a change canvas is required to know, understand and document :

a. Aim: why are we making the change (create a shared need)

b. Scope: People, process, and systems impacted

c. Current State: what happens today, are people unhappy with it, what are we trying to fix

d. Future State: What changes are making, what does future look like, what will change

e. Success measures: how will we know we are going in the right direction and we have reached there

These are all high level right now and can be updated as you progress

3. Do a change readiness assessment 

We need to understand if the population, the organization is ready for the change, if not what are show stoppers, resistance points. 

There are several templates to assess change readiness. I will keep it simple here assuming, we are talking about a small project.

a. Culture: whats the organizational culture, what are the attitudes towards change, what is the attitude towards this specific change

b. Environment: whats the legal environment - can we make this change, clients - would they agree, policies - do they also need to change, employee working conditions ( you can't go online for employee self-service if everyone doesn't have net connectivity or computer literacy )

c. Resources: do we have skilled resources to do the work, do we have systems, processes ... A lot of these would be solved by the project team as their deliverable.  Still thinking thru above could help define the project plan. e.g. This thinking may lead to having more time for dedicated training of resources, it may point that we need representation of users in the design team ( always a good thing to do )

2. Get a change team in place

Change team is not just a change expert and project manager... it will consist of subject matter experts, project manager, Sponsor/champion, leaders, impacted employees and change management experts. 

A sponsor who champions the change is a must

Look at the size of change - is it global, how large is the impacted population, how much is the complexity of the change. 

Seek help from change management experts, get them as a resource on the team, if the change is complex, impacted population large, dispersed in geography... 

Caution: project management and change management are different. Communication is a part of change management and not true that change management is communication. 

Even if the change is small, no harm in reaching out, using standard templates and seek advice when necessary. 

4. Map your stakeholders

Stakeholder - is anyone who is impacted by the project and/or has influence over the project

Here's the high level of how you can go about it.

Start with groups of stakeholders - eg project team, leaders, employees by regions/ process etc

Where required breakdown the groups to get names against them

Write high/ medium/low impact from the project and influence on the project in 2 different columns

You may now add a column to write their attitude/ support towards the project - you may simply write positive/neutral/negative

Now draw a plan to move negatives to neutral and neutrals to positive - not all will move - it's OK

Mobilize commitment: Based on their influence and impact - reach out to the leaders - get them to buy in and help them get buy-in from their team. 

While we do start from the top - it is the middle managers and employees who need to be won over.

More on stakeholder management