Whether you’re planning on changing your business processes, enterprise technology, or both, there’s no time like the present to tell employees what’s brewing. Yep, you heard us right – now is the time to inform employees about coming changes even if you’ve barely started evaluating software vendors.

Some business changes are minor, affecting only one department and a handful of employees. Others, like an ERP implementation or digital transformation, are enterprise-wide, affecting everyone in your organization.

In either case, you need a dedicated business change strategy to guide your change management team in how to communicate with employees and how to enable employees to embrace coming changes.

Without a strategy in place, it can be challenging to connect the various activities that must take place to ensure a successful transition.

Today, we’re sharing tips on how to develop a business change strategy that helps you communicate with employees and prepare them for new processes and technology.

Change Management Case Study

The client recognized their need for more comprehensive change management, so they asked us to fill in the gaps. We developed a robust communication plan to supplement the vendor’s communication approach.

3 Tips for Creating a Business Change Strategy​

A business change strategy – or a change management strategy – defines the approach that your team will follow when transitioning employees. When everyone on your project team is working from the same playbook, the benefits are obvious. It’s easier to set goals, collaborate, and achieve organizational alignment with one source of truth. 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all blueprint to follow because each organization and project are unique. Your strategy will include elements that are specific to your situation. For instance, there may be variations in how organizations approach the following:

  • The speed of the project
  • The amount of planning they conduct
  • The degree to which they’ll involve others

While each strategy will be different, it should still follow the same basic sequence. Each approach should include some form of the following three steps:

1. Identify Change Characteristics​

As you prepare your strategy for managing change, the first step will be to understand the size and scope of the change. Key questions to ask include:

  • How big will the change be?
  • What exactly are we changing (roles, processes, policies)?
  • How many employees and who will the change affect?
  • How long do we have to complete the project?
  • What resources do we need to complete the project?

By taking the time to understand the realities of the project, you can create a stronger strategy to support it. 

2. Assess Organizational Attributes​

Assessing organizational attributes means taking a big-picture look at your change. What does the backdrop of the project look like and what outlying factors do you need to consider before you begin? The questions to ask at this step include: 

  • How do our employees and managers perceive the change?
  • Do all stakeholders share the same vision for the organization?
  • How have we managed similar changes in the past?
  • How much change are we currently managing?

It’s essential to understand the nitty-gritty details of the project, especially one as intricate as an ERP implementation. Yet, it’s equally important to understand what’s going on behind the scenes and how those elements might determine the change management tactics you use. 

3. Develop a Change Management Strategy

It isn’t enough to simply talk about how you’ll manage the change. You need a written plan and strategy in place to direct your efforts. An organizational change management (OCM) plan is key to organizing your efforts. 

In your OCM plan, you’ll map out the various elements required to implement the change. These include:

  • The team structure: Who is responsible for performing the OCM work?
  • The sponsorship coalition: Which leaders and managers need to be on board and actively engaged in the change?
  • The risk assessment plan: What could happen if you don’t manage the people side of the change?
  • OCM tactics for resistance: Which employees might resist and how can we address it before it starts?

What if There’s Resistance?

What happens if employees don’t jump on board? A resistance management plan might be one part of your greater OCM strategy. Much of the work required to craft a business change strategy is done to curb resistance early. If you can identify people or teams who may be hesitant to support the project, you can communicate with them from the onset.

By explaining the benefits the new system will provide and remaining available to answer questions, you can help calm their initial fears. Validate their feelings rather than ignoring them, and remind them that they play a vital role in the project’s success.

It helps to approach the process with a sense of empathy, seeking to understand why the resistance might be there in the first place. There are many reasons why someone might resist an organizational change. A few of the most common ones include:

  • The belief that change will require them to lose something they value (e.g. decision-making power)
  • A misunderstanding about the project and what it will entail
  • A lack of trust in project leadership
  • Viewing the project differently than those initiating it
  • Concern that they cannot develop the skills required to embrace the change

A business change strategy gives you the opportunity to define how you’ll approach these concerns. Without such a plan in place, it can be difficult to determine the right words or actions at the right time. 

A Strategy for Project Success

A business change can be detrimental if poorly planned and managed. However, the right business change strategy gives your organization a clear vision as you prepare employees for new processes and technology.

If you need help creating and implementing a change strategy, contact our change management consultants below.

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