Using change management for successful transformations

Effective change management can be the difference between realising the value of new technology and not doing so.
Leaves gradually changing in colour

Good change management can be the difference between success and failure for digital transformation journeys, because it’s all about the PEOPLE side of change.  

Close consultation and good communication with all of your stakeholders at every stage of the journey means people will feel that the change is being done with them and not to them, making them more likely to accept, and most importantly, use, the technology being implemented. 

Prosci, a leader in change management solutions, believes that with proper change management, employees feel prepared, well-equipped, and supported. Consequently, these projects are: 

  • six times more likely to achieve their objectives; 
  • five times more likely to stay on or ahead of schedule; 
  • twice as likely to stay on or under budget. 

So, how can you make sure your change management approach is effective? 

How to approach change management 

Success is more easily achieved if a layered, holistic approach to change is taken – Individual, Organisational and Enterprise: 

Individual (Personal)  

When we can see how new technology will impact us directly for the better, we are much more likely to buy into the change. Understand the “what’s in it for me?” for each person or cohort of stakeholders and communicate the change accordingly. 

Transformation project teams can understand what is important to different cohorts of stakeholders by asking subject matter experts (SMEs) from the “business” to work in the project team.  For example, if customer service is a core part of the transformation, have a call centre representative be seconded to the project team.  

The Prosci ADKAR® Model for individual change shows the stages that a person needs to move through, and the project team, including the change manager will need to help each person move through the stages: 

A – Awareness of the need for change
D – Desire to support the change
K – Knowledge of how to change
A – Ability to demonstrate the skills and behaviours 
R – Reinforcement to make the change stick 


Organisations themselves need to be ready to change and adopt the outcomes of projects – systems, processes, ways of learning and working. They should do this by: 

  • identifying the impacts of the change to all teams across the organisation 
  • ensuring cross-functional collaboration to ensure that changes are not made in isolation, potentially causing upstream or downstream issues 
  • establishing metrics to measure ongoing levels of success 
  • providing transition support for people to avoid slipping back into old ways and stagnation. 

Enterprise (Core)  

Creating a culture of change will allow the organisation to adapt more quickly and easily in future. Embedding change management at the core of the organisation means incorporating it into leadership capabilities. This will mean that when you are ready to embark on your next implementation, you have people who are equipped to deliver the change and accept the change more readily. 

Who does change management? 

Change managers are specialists who are embedded into transformation projects to define the processes and provide the tools and techniques to help manage the people side of a change. They are different to project managers, although there are many project managers whose roles have been expanded to include change management, even though the scope and skillset are different.  

Two options for not-for-profits to engage a change manager 

Whilst it is an option to employ a change manager within your organisation, this article assumes a limited budget that would prevent this. Instead, options include: 

  1. Engage a specialist in change management for the course of the project who may be certified by organisations like Prosci. They are often contractors who can bring with them wide knowledge from working in different industries and environments. They will have a solid understanding of what works well and what doesn’t and have experience of engaging with a broad range of stakeholders, which can be invaluable in complex environments. They will invariably cost more on an equivalent daily basis, but could be employed for a limited timeframe only and can be well worth the investment. 
  2. Upskill a staff member who could be seconded to projects. They may not be dedicated to this role and may retain some BAU responsibilities. If so, be careful not to over-stretch them and force them to do a half-baked job in both areas. Individuals who are 'people-people', who can listen well and empathise with others, think strategically, are respected, and have exceptional communication and stakeholder management skills. The Prosci website has great information that could help upskill staff members, including an e-book

How a change manager works

A change manager is generally embedded into a project team, working together with other project members such as the project manager, business analyst, solution architect etc, but also acts as a conduit between the project and the organisation.

They represent the people impacted by a project, with key responsibilities as follows: 

  1. Establish who will be impacted by the change initially and ongoing, mapping internal and external stakeholders. A number of tools can assist with mapping this out and the Project Management Institute (PMI) has some useful information freely available to help with stakeholder analysis. 
  2. Understand the current state of play in the organisation, for example how people are feeling about the change, what technology they are using now and their biggest challenges. Surveys, focus groups, one-on-ones, side-by-side observation and attending impacted team meetings can be useful in developing relationships and understanding the current state. 
  3. Document what the future state will be – what it will look like once the change has happened and ongoing, what it will mean at an individual, team, department, and organisational level. 
  4. Identify the gap between current and future state and work out what it will take to get there. How large is the shift and how much work needs to be done to achieve success? How much training is required to make sure people are comfortable?  
  5. Work out how to engage with key stakeholders and manage resistance to change. Establish the communication channels that are already available and familiar such as social media, intranet, posters or emails.  
  6. Communicate simple, personal, relevant, and transparent messages to gain trust and support. 
  7. Identify who could get involved with the design and testing of a solution and become a trusted change champion. 

How to bring change management into your next project 

Step 1 – Engage someone to take on the role of change manager.  

Step 2 – Agree their role and responsibilities. 

Step 3 - Work with them to understand why you are doing your change to inform key messaging. 

Step 4 – Support them to do their work – you are engaging this person because of their skills and expertise. Provide them a visibly endorsed, collaborative environment to do the best job they can.  

Step 5 – Enjoy the benefits of investing in the people side of change. You won’t be disappointed. 

For more information, visit the Prosci and PMI websites

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