Change Management – Definition
Change management is the planned and structured implementation of transitional goals in an organization and company. It aims to move the company, organization or environment from one state to a new state. For this purpose, various models and defined processes are used to ensure the effectiveness and quality of the actions taken at every stage of the change process. At the same time, possible risks must be controlled and minimized.
The history of change management goes back to the beginning of the 20th century. Based on the idea of continuously improving work processes and organizational structures, the necessary phases in the change process were identified and defined as change management (CM).
Change through communication, persuasion, leadership and structure.
Companies, and therefore also their managers and employees, are subject to constant change and to the challenge of implementing transformation within the company’s day-to-day business across the various corporate levels and departments. It is, therefore, important to establish change management as a fixed component of governance and corporate culture in order to create the best possible conditions for change.
Good communication is an essential component of CM, because the change can only be implemented successfully if the various stakeholders understand the planned changes. Convincing all stakeholders, and moreover the entire company, of the necessity and the reasons for the planned change activates everyone toward success. Without everyone working together, it is difficult, if not impossible, to implement a change successfully.
Motivation and structure are needed to successfully manage the change process through all phases. Setbacks must be overcome and obstacles or problems must be eliminated.
Only if all of the above factors are incorporated into change management can the change be implemented as a successful and positive experience for all employees. A positive experience is the basis for establishing lasting and meaningful change management in the company.
If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.Abraham Lincoln
Change Management Models and Processes
Implementing changes in a company often fails for one of three reasons: a lack of willingness, a lack of understanding the change’s necessessity or a failure to recognize the added value of the established goal.
To help counter this, different change management models can help to establish the readiness for change in a company. These can be used to support and implement the planned changes. An important part of change management is constantly controlling the actual state in order to prevent a dilution of the planned goals or a relapse into old behaviors. The quality of the measures taken is also subject to constant control in order to meet the requirements of the set goal.
The model which is best for the company should always be decided on a case-by-case basis, according to the challenges of the set company goal and the needs of the employees.
Two of the most well-known methods in change management:
Kurt Lewin – 3 Phase Change Management Model
Kurt Lewin divides the process of change management into 3 phases— roughly recognizing the need for change, acting on it, and anchoring the introduced changes.
Phase 1: Unfreeze
Realizing the need for change. The status quo is questioned and awareness of the need for change is established in the company. Structures are broken down in order to be able to initiate the change process.
Phase 2: Change
Leaving the current status to try out proposed solutions. Successful solutions or partial solutions are established.
Phase 3: Refreeze
Introduction of the new ways of working or solutions to all affected areas of the company with the aim of permanent integration. The changes are to be established and adopted as usual in the company until the next change occurs.
Kotter’s Change Management Model
Establish a common understanding
Problems should be recognized as such and acceptance of the necessary change should be created.
Gain allies for the change and create a leadership team
Leadership and an understanding of the common goals are decisive factors for the successful implementation of a planned change. The change process itself requires a management team to support it. To this end, it should have competencies in the areas that are to be effected.
Development of the communication strategy and recommendations for action based on the project managers input.
Communication of the goal
Communicate the strategy throughout the organization to get employees’ buy-in to the changes. Clearly articulate any recommendations for action.
Removal of potential obstacles
Identification and elimination of obstacles, such as knowledge gaps, staff shortages, or structural problems.
Successes and milestones achieved should be communicated during the implementation phase in order to maintain motivation.
Steadily driving the change process forward
Do not be discouraged by setbacks. Encourage employees to continue taking risks and accepting possible setbacks. Do not lose sight of the objective despite interim successes.
Establishment of the achieved change in the corporate culture
Anchor new processes permanently in the company. Use the successes achieved through the initial changes to motivate employees. Make the reason fort he change clear, and thereby increase acceptance of the change.
Agile Change Management
Taking into account the basic principles of change management, Agile Change Management follows a “sprint” approach. In other words, small changes are implemented within a short period of time. Changes are implemented in small, multidisciplinary teams and the success of the changes achieved is checked in a short period of time in order to be able to react quickly to possible problems. After each change, efforts are evaluated and adjustments are made if needed. In this way, opportunities and problems can be quickly identified and incorporated into the larger change process.
The agile approach of an open and never-ending change process differs significantly from classic change management thinking, which basically includes a start and end point of the change process through the different phases outlined above.
ITIL Change Management
In principle, the change management approach should be applied in all areas of a company. In the course of the digital transformation, however, it is particularly important in the area of IT. IT teams must react to changes and ensure that the competitiveness of the company is supported in the best possible way by the IT infrastructure.
A particular focus in ITIL change management is the classification of components and an evaluation of possible risks in order to prevent impairments to or interruption of operations.
The ITIL framework provides helpful and defined processes for IT service management and guidance for managing technical changes.
Service Transition – is the change process described in ITIL and it describes the following phases:
- Transition Planing & Support
- Change Management & Evaluation
- Release & Deployment Management
- Application Management
- Service Validation & Testing
- Service Asset & Configuration Management
- Knowledge Management
Change Management Software – The right tool for your success
In order to involve all those responsible for a change in tasks or responsibilities, software that covers and bundles all the requirements of a change process is of considerable advantage.
- Dependencies and responsible parties can be defined and automatically integrated into the communication.
- Communication regarding the change process is always traceable and audit-proof without email chaos.
- Classification and documentation of configuration items (CIs) are included through a configuration management database CMDB.
- Priorities, due dates and reminders ensure workflow compliance.
- Business processes guide teams safely through the change process.
As change management software, OTRS is highly flexible and customizable. Learn how OTRS supports you in change management.