When is the Ideal Time to Have a Change Manager?

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When is the ideal time to include a Change Manager when introducing or upgrading technology, re-organising your business or any other form of improvement that will impact the people in your business?

That is a question many businesses ignore because they often don’t think of managing the change from a people perspective. Yes they often make sure that the technology is working, but that is generally all that they believe is needed. Who cares if the staff are happy? If they are able to use the tools effectively? Or know the new processes that resulted from the technology change?

My answer is in the form of a timeline:

  • For the Project, I start with the business recognising that they need the change, then follow through to implementation and reviewing its success. A process that can take weeks, months or longer depending on the complexity and size of the change.

  • For the Organisational Change Management (OCM) associated with the project, I have put in a timeline indicating the different starting or inclusion points for bringing on a Change Manager or Change Team to help.

My focus today is on the starting points. While I am sure we could go into a lot more detail, my goal today is to put a perspective on when you should think about your people and how they need to be included in the journey.

Start Point Comment
1.       Ideal Start Point If you include Change Management at this point you will be able to be proactive, creating good foundations, and having time to do the research and understand what is required to ensure you bring your stakeholders along for the journey.
2.       Good Start Point For many projects, bringing the Change Manager in at the same time as the Project Manager ensures the OCM aspects of the project are included and well thought out.
3.       Reactive Start Point When you bring the change people in when the project is well on its way, the change aspects start to become reactive. The grapevine has been in action and you now need to overcome the rumours and different messages coming from the various areas of the project.
4.       Recovery Start Point If you are thinking about change as a go live activity, the horse has bolted. Staff and customers don’t normally like changes that impact them and are sprung upon them. This becomes a case of containment when staff and other stakeholders become negative.
5.       Crisis Management Start Point If a business waits until there is a review and then decides it is going to bring in change teams, then it is usually admitting that the project has failed and they need to put a spin on the outcome to paint it as less than a failure. Look at the media for how this is done and the extent of the issues that caused the business/government to respond.
6.       No OCM Not including OCM at any stage is an option and for small business or small changes it can appear to be an OK option, a bit like not training a small dog because if it barks and snaps all the time people will put up with it.


Written by: Frank Yarsley

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