Move fast, don't break anything
Change management might be needed for all sorts of reasons, such as an implementation of a new technology, transition to a new strategy, or an organizational change. Without a change management process to ensure success, all kinds of disruptions can occur, slowing down productivity and eating away at resources.
Change management refers to the process, tools, and techniques used to manage the human side of change to achieve the required or desired business outcome. A great change management process incorporates the organizational tools that can be implemented to help everyone make a successful transition, resulting in the adoption and realization of change.
Kicking off a change management process
Before you implement a change process, formalize the entire procedure by taking the time to answer some important questions:
Where are we today?
Determine the current state of your organization and what you already have at your disposal. Understand which team members are available to help with the transition.
What’s our communication platform?
An effective change management process must include a a communications plan, and not just to keep stakeholder groups or the leadership team up to date. Change management often involves the entire company, so be prepared to communicate updates before, during, and after implementation.
Do we have buy-in on the changes?
Think of all stakeholders as a change advisory board. It's important to have buy-in for the change process before going forward. If you don't, understand why, and work with stakeholders to adjust the procedure. Remember, it's far easier to fix before implementation than after.
What is the escalation process?
Any normal change management process will include some hiccups. But you can be ready for this if you implement an escalation process before
What’s the likely impact of change on certain teams and individuals?
Change management can be stressful, particularly if it's an emergency change. Try to look at things from the point of view of every team and individual involved and imagine what impact the change will have on things like job performance and satisfaction.
Where do we want to be 6 or 12 months from now?
It's impossible to know if the change management process was a success if you don't have a clear understanding of what you want the end-result to be. And not just immediately after implementation; imagine 6 or 12 months later. What does success look like?
Will agents be responsible for more activity?
Once implemented, a change can often impact the customer experience. Be prepared for an increase of requests for support. Some changes might require updates to documentation, in-product messaging, etc., so your agents might need to spend more time on those activities than usual.
Involve the right people
Ensure that all stakeholders and participants in the change management plan are aware of everything, particularly their roles. Here are some tips to a smooth implementation of even a major change:
- Try to get buy-in from 50% of the organization to drive large-scale change.
- Consider using pilot groups as a low-risk way of providing proof of concept.
- Use department-wide change agents to make sure each department is represented in the process.
- Provide weekly communications that include updates and next steps.
- Use a dedicated project room, ensuring stakeholders always have a place to meet. Offer “lunch and learn” meetings, where you can make presentations about the change and answer questions in real time.
- Use this as an opportunity to break traditional barriers and get the company working as a cohesive unit. Challenge cultural norms, if they’re acting as roadblocks to successful change management.
Make sure you have the right infrastructure
Here's another important question to ask yourself: Are we setup to make these changes smoothly?
As your organization grows and business needs and customer issues become more complex, your software naturally needs to adapt. The more complex configurations and changes you need to make, the higher the risk to your production environment, agents, and (at worst) your customers if these changes aren't rolled out and implemented properly.
In addition to making sure the right people are managing this transition, there are also tools that can help you affect change with a safety net. Software, such as a sandbox environment can destress the change management process for you, allowing you to test and explore before rolling out any changes. This can help you solve issues before they become actual problems.
Another benefit of using a sandbox involves updates to agent workflow, which is often impacted by changes to your business. With a sandbox you can train your agents in an environment that looks and feels like the real thing, allowing them to learn to adopt the new workflow without negative consequences.
Successful change management depends on many people putting in a lot of hard work. Be sure to include a celebration in your change proposal to highlight the launch of the new initiative, as well as long-and short term wins. Wins should be collected, categorized, and communicated early and often to track progress and energize your team to drive change.
Change management, be it ITSM or ITIL change management, an organizational change management, new product releases, or even an emergency change can have a negative impact on productivity and employee happiness. Proper preparation and ongoing change maintenance can mitigate this and help ensure that it’s a huge success.