Guide for change re-planning – infographic

Guide for change re-planning – infographic

During Covid organisations are re-planning their initiatives to better cater for the various impacts on people and business capacity.

We have summarised key steps in change re-planning during Covid using The Change Compass in this 1-pager infographic. Follow the step by step guide to support your organisation during any re-planning exercises.

To download click HERE.

A guide to change planning during coronavirus – The role of change practitioners

A guide to change planning during coronavirus – The role of change practitioners

“When disaster strikes, it tears the curtain away from the festering problems that we have beneath them,”


Most of the world is now shrouded in a thick cloud that is the coronavirus.  It is shaping a lot of our daily lives, from shopping, travelling, visiting friends, work, economy and not the least health.  Some businesses are going under whilst others struck with sudden increased demand.  Chaos and panic abound.  There will certainly be significant levels of economic and therefore industry impacts resulting from the virus.  As a result of the sudden shifts in business decisions, what is the role of the change practitioner?  With the right tools, data and approach, the change practitioner can be the lynch-pin to enable the organisation to plan effectively through the impacts of the virus.

Let’s outline some of the current landscape and what a lot of businesses are undergoing.

Offshore staffing changes

Many companies are impacted by quarantine decisions.  In certain countries such as the Philippines there is a significant presence of offshore operations.  To rapidly contain the spread of the virus the Philippines government on Monday has ordered community quarantines covering half of the population leading to business shutdowns.  What this means is that many companies have suddenly found themselves in the position of having to rapidly ramp up their onshore operations to deal with customer call volumes. 

Even those who have other offshore operations not in the Philippines will be wise to review their business continuity planning in the event that their business partners are impacted.

Work from home

To protect employees from the spread of the virus a significant number of companies have asked all of their employees to work from home where possible.  This also leads to a significant shift in the ways of working for these organisations, especially if the core skills of leading and managing workforce virtually are new skill sets.  To read more about how to deal with the impacts of the virus go to our article Managing Change During the Cornoavirus.

Restricted travel

Most companies have also implemented restrictions on travel.  Some countries have even implemented international travel quarantines, essentially reducing the majority of inflows of visitors.

Resource ramp-up

For those companies who need to ramp up onshore operations, this presents challenges in terms of the speed of resource ramp-up to meet customer demands.  Challenges include the availability of technical equipment such as headsets and laptops, as well as finding the talent pool when there is restricted travelling.

Other companies are significantly benefiting from the current situation, for example, digital retailers such as Amazon, Ebay or medical equipment providers and suppliers.

Resource ramp down and cost containment

A lot of retailers are hard hit by the sudden slow-down of retail foot traffic.  Airlines have drastically cut flights and travel agencies are hit by the lack of travel bookings.  Some have started to lay off staff in anticipation of continuing downturn in customer numbers.  Even for those who have not yet laid off staff, there is focus on cost containment amidst cost challenges from declining revenue.

Business continuity plans

Most of the businesses negatively impacted by the virus in a significant way are resorting to their business continuity plan.  This means that the chain of command may be different from business-as-usual and decision making may be faster or slower depending on the nature of the decision.  This also means that any business plans in place may change.  Focus and resources may be shifted leading to significant change for employees.

Business replanning implications

Given significant disturbances to business-as-usual activities, what are the options in terms of existing change initiatives?  Most organizations will be in the middle of reviewing or re-planning existing focus areas including change initiatives.  The following are some of the likely scenarios. 

  • Prioritise or re-prioritise existing initiatives
  • Defer existing initiatives as needed
  • Resource planning: Subject matter expert or business representative availability given any business continuity challenges, project resources (increased or decreased demand)
  • Scenario planning: Some companies are modelling various scenarios of the impact of the virus on the business in order to make arrangements from a risk and mitigation perspective

The role of the change practitioner

Impacts of changing plans

Given most large organizations are already undergoing various change initiatives to stay competitive, the changes caused by the coronavirus adds to the volume and pace of existing planned set of changes.  The project management office, as well as other planning teams will benefit significantly from access to change impact information and data to make balanced decisions on any business replanning activities.

Some of these include:

  • Initiatives and impacts from a business unit perspective
  • Geographic differences in planned initiative impacts
  • Planned customer impacts
  • Visualisation of any existing black-out periods and other periods of high customer volumes or high employee workload periods (e.g. quarter-ends for Finance and peak customer policy renewal/purchasing periods)
  • Stakeholder group impact, e.g. customer-facing vs. non-customer facing staff
  • Hot spot analysis of team capacity impacts on top of existing planned initiatives
  • Impacts on customer segments
  • Impacts on partners and suppliers

Example of data visualisation from The Change Compass

Model likely scenarios of moving initiatives

The other area in which the change practitioner may add significant value in the business replanning exercise is in helping to articulate and visualise the impact of moving initiatives.  As outlined previously, these could be the result of re-sequencing, re-prioritisation or scenario planning to better manage risk exposure for the organisation.

In modelling the impacts of various scenarios, key call outs include:

  • Resourcing and capacity challenges
  • Change volume hotspots
  • Change velocity against existing business change capacity
  • Feasibility of allowing embedment of change between initiatives
  • Advantages or disadvantages of any change release ‘packaging’

Plan restructuring exercises

Often restructuring exercises are lead by senior managers with the guidance of human resource partners from a people and HR policy perspective.  However, the value of the change practitioner is in designing the restructuring as a project, containing scoped phases and planned according to a sequence of logical steps based on sound change principles.  After all, restructuring exerts the highest impact on individuals more than other changes.

Restructuring is no different than other change initiatives.  There needs to be clear articulation of the reasons or the ‘why’ behind the restructuring, logical articulation of how decisions are made, clear detailing of impacts to the organisations and people overall, and a series of planned steps in which to engage impacted stakeholders to support them through the change.

Adjusting change approaches to fit in with virtual working

With the sudden switch to working from home or virtual working, some employees may not be familiar or comfortable with this way of working.  Existing change initiatives may have been designed with face-to-face sessions such as town halls, training sessions etc.  With the virtual working environment change practitioners need to readjust the change approach and think through ways of driving effective change virtually.

These include such as:

  • Effective virtual facilitation
  • Ability to use technology to aid engagement
  • More frequent communications than previously planned
  • Allowing more implementation time due to the challenges of virtual working

Continuous engagement of employees during this change

In order to proactively engage the employee during this time of change, follow core change principles.  For example, engage early and continuous to outline the direction of the organisation, and check-in continuously to gage employee sentiments to assess their change journey.  Adjust and pivot as needed to provide any additional support.  Share any wins such as examples of effective virtual working tips and employee profiles.  Share stories of how effective teams have overcome the potential challenges of social isolation and still deliver solid business outcomes.

Five agile change toolkits

Five agile change toolkits

The agile way of implementing changes has been popular for quite a number of years among a range of companies, from small startups through to large corporations. Most agile methodologies do not address the role of change management explicitly as a function. However, at the same time, most project practitioners agree that managing change is a critical skillset. In fact, surveys conducted by the Project Management Institute consistently found that change management is rated as one of the top skills for a project manager.

To find out more about agile methodology and embedding change management within it, please read our Ultimate Guide to Agile for Change Managers.

In this article, we will focus on a range of toolkits that support agile to help change managers implement change. Gone at the days when the change manager needs to work on large presentations and slides detailing every aspect of the plan. It was not uncommon to see more than 100 slides for a change plan. In the agile world, documentation is important but more important is the conversation and working with stakeholders.

Toolkit 1: Change Canvas

The change canvas or ‘change-on-a-page’ is a summary of the change plan. It follows a similar simple and summarised format as a Lean Canvas. The change canvas may be used to socialise what the change is about and the approach in implementing the change with a range of stakeholders.

Previous versions of the change canvas are often designed with more of a project plan slant. In the current version, we focus on a core set of questions that the change practitioner needs to answer in creating a change plan. To download the canvas click here.

Toolkit 2: Change experiment card

A core part of agile is about experimenting and iterating through a series of changes, versus planning one change. The idea is that each small change is an experiment with a hypothesis that can be tested and proven to be true or false using data. When the overall change becomes a series of smaller changes, each change iterates on the previous change. The overall risk of failure is reduced and each change is one step closer toward the ultimate successful end state.

Applying this concept in change management – The change experiment card is a template to help you design, plan and test your change experiment. To download the template please click here.

Change experiments can range from:

  • Project message positioning to stakeholders
  • Learning design effectiveness
  • Effectiveness of a communications channel in engaging with stakeholders
  • Change readiness tactic
  • Effectiveness of the change vision artefact

Toolkit 3: Behaviour over time graph

Plotting expected or actual stakeholder behaviour over time is an effective way to anticipate or track how they are experiencing change. It can provide significant insight on whether additional change interventions are required to shift the stakeholder towards the change process effectively, if there are any obstacles being faced or if the time taken along the change journey is the speed as anticipated.

Here is an example of a behaviour over time graph.

Change readiness over time plotted against change milestones

Toolkit 4: Connected circles analysis

The connected circles analysis chart can be used to understand the influencing powers of various stakeholders within the project. Agile projects are very much dependent on effective stakeholder engagement and collaboration. A range of stakeholders are thrown together within the same project from the beginning and there is a high expectation of successful collaboration and teamwork across the board. This analysis helps you to visualise the power dynamism and influence mechanisms amongst different stakeholders.

With the insight gained from this, the change manager can better focus on how to resolve any relationship issues, risks, and leverage the network to achieve better relationship and outcomes within the group.

Project stakeholder influence dynamics

Toolkit 5: Causal loop diagram

Systems thinking is critical in agile projects. Systems thinking means that you’re able to see the various components and how these components affect each other within the overall environment, or system. This contrasts with a linear view of A causing B or vice versa.

The causal loop diagram helps to flesh out and analysis key factors in the overall system and what causal relationship there are between different factors.

The below example shows employee sentiments toward a system change. This is a very simplified version of what happens since in real scenarios there could be various factors that are reinforcing each other, leading to lots of arrows pointing at different directions. At a more sophisticated level, you may assign points in terms of the strength of the causal relationship. At a basic level even plotting the causal relationship between a few key factors may generate key insight into the ‘why’ of the dynamics of a situation.

Causal loop diagram of the rationale of stakeholder sentiments

For those who work in organisations that are undergoing a significant number of agile changes, there needs to be a way to capture and visualise these changes so that the data can aid decision making for stakeholders. Using data visualisation, stakeholders can gain a better grasp of the various changes across the organisation and be able to understand key capacity challenges, crunch periods, the velocity of changes across time, and pinpoint particular parts of the organisation that may need extra support.

The following are key steps in which an organisation can leverage tools such as The Change Compass to derive one view of change and to better plan the implementation of changes. With embedded operational routines that regularly focus on change data in conjunction with other business and project data, the business is able to build its change capability through constant reviews, valuable stakeholder discussions, iterations on change tactics and adjusting plans to get ready for change.

To download this diagram click here.

The ultimate guide to measuring change

The ultimate guide to measuring change

A lot of change practitioners are extremely comfortable with saying that change management is about attitudes, behaviours, and feelings and therefore we cannot measure them. This metaphor that change management is ‘soft’ extends into areas such as leadership and employee engagement whereby it may not be easy to measure and track things. However, is it really that because something is harder to measure and less black and white that there is less merit in measuring these?

“If you can’t measure it you can’t improve it” Peter Drucker

The ‘why’ behind a lot of industry change in our day and age comes from the fact that data is now dominating our world. Data is a central part of everything that is changing in our world. Since we are now more reliant on the internet for information, the data that can be collected through our digital interactions around our lives are now driving change. Home assistant Alexa from Amazon can recognize our voices and tell us what we want to know. We can be identified through street cameras. Our Google usage leads to better-targeted advertisements and product promotions.   Our Facebook usage leads to a deep understanding of our preferences and lifestyles, and therefore we become targetted by advertisements for what we may find value in (according to Facebook data and algorithms).

So if our world is surrounded by data, why are we not measuring it in managing change? To answer this question let’s look at what we are or are not measuring.

These are some of the common ways in which change is often measured in projects:

1. Change readiness surveys

Change readiness surveys are usually online surveys sent by a project owner to understand how stakeholder groups are feeling about the change at different points in time throughout the project. It can be in the form on a Likert scale or free text. Most results are summarized into a quantitative scale of the degree in which the group is ready for change. A simple SurveyMonkey could be set up to measure stakeholder readiness for change. ChangeTracking (now part of Accenture) is a comprehensive online tool that measures the change journey and readiness of stakeholder groups throughout the initiative.

2. Training evaluation surveys

These evaluations are normally based on participant satisfaction across various categories such as content, instructor effectiveness, usefulness, etc. In a face-to-face training format, these surveys are normally paper-based so as to increase the completion rate. For online or virtual training, ratings may be completed by the user at the conclusion or after the session.

3. Communications metrics

One way in which communications may be measured is the ‘hit rate’ or the number of users/audience that views the article/material/page. This may be easily tracked using Google Analytics that not only tracks number of views per page but also viewership by the time of day/week as well as audience demographic information as such gender and geographical locations.

4. Employee sentiments/culture surveys

There are some organizations that measure employee sentiments or culture over the year and often there are questions that are linked to change. These surveys tend to be short and based on a Likert scale with less open-ended questions for qualitative feedback. Since these surveys are often sent across the entire organization they are a ‘catch-all’ yardstick and may not be specific to particular initiatives.

5. Change heatmaps

Some organizations devise change heatmaps on excel spreadsheets to try and map out the extent to which different business units are impacted by change. This artifact speaks to the amount of change and often leads to discussions concerning the capacity that the business has to ‘handle/digest’ change. The problem with most heatmaps is that they are usually categorized and rated by the creator of the artifact (or a limited number of people making judgments), and therefore subject to bias. Data that is based on 1 person’s opinions also tend not to have as much weight in a decision-making forum.

Change benefit tracking

In addition to typical change management measures, there are various initiatives-specific measures that focus on the actual outcome and benefit of the change with the goal of determining to what extent the change has taken place. Some example of this includes:

  • System usage rates

  • Cost reduction

  • Revenue increase

  • Transaction speed

  • Process efficiency

  • Speed of decision making

  • Customer satisfaction rate

  • Employee productivity rate

  • Incidents of process violation

Non-initiative based change management measures

There are two other measures that are used within an organizational vs. initiative-specific context, change leadership assessment and change maturity assessment. In the next section, we will discuss these two areas.

Change leadership assessment

David Miller from Changefirst wrote about 3 types of change leaders.:

1. The sponsor whose role is to drive the initiative to success from the beginning to the end. This involves possessing competencies in rallying and motivating people, building a strong network of sponsors and communicating clearly to various stakeholder groups.

2. The influencer whose role is to leverage their network and influence to market and garner the traction required to make the initiative successful. Four types of influencers as identified by Changefirst includes:

a) Advocates who are great at promoting and advocating the benefits of the change

b) Connectors who are able to link and leverage people across a part of the organization to support the change

c) Controllers who have control over access to information and people and these could include administrators and operations staff

d) Experts who are viewed by others in the organization as being technically credible

3. The change agent is someone who is tasked with supporting the overall change in various ways, including any promotional activities, gaging different parts of the organization on the change and be able to influence, up, down and sideways across the organization to drive a successful change outcome.

Whilst there isn’t one industry standard tool for assessing change leadership competencies and capabilities. There are various change leadership assessment tools offered by Changefirst as well as other various smaller consulting firms. One of the most comprehensive change leadership assessment tools is by ChangeTracking is the Change Capacity Assessment which is a self-assessment with the broad categories being Goal Attainment, Flexibility, Decision Making, and Relationship Building.

Some of the key competencies critical in change leadership have been called out by Pagon & Banutal (2008), and include:

  • Goal attainment

  • Assessing organizational culture and climate

  • Change implementation

  • Motivating and influencing others

  • Adaptability

  • Stakeholder management

  • Collaboration

  • Build organizational capacity and capability for change

  • Maneuvering around organizational politics

Change maturity assessment

Organisations are increasingly realising that managing change initiative by initiative is no longer going to cut it as it does not enable organizational learning and growth. Initiatives come and go and those who rely on contractor change managers often find that their ability to manage change as an organization does not mature much across initiatives.

Change maturity assessment is focused on building change capability across the organization across different dimensions, whether it be project change management or change leadership. The goal of conducting a change maturity assessment is to identify areas in which there may be a capability gap and therefore enable structured planning to close this gap.

There are 2 major change maturity assessment models available in the market. The first is by Prosci and the second is by the Change Management Institute. To read more about change maturity assessment read out article A New Guide for Improving Change Management Maturity, where we outline how to improve change maturity throughout different business units across the organization.

A comprehensive model of Change Management Measures

In this diagram various change management measures are represented along two axes, one being the different phases of the initiative lifecycle, and the other being different organizational levels of project, business and enterprise in which change management measures fall into.

Project level measures

‘Plan’ phase

In this phase of the project, the team is discovering and scoping what the project involves and what the change is. As a result, the details are not known clearly at the commencement of the phase. Later in the phase the scope becomes much clearer and the team starts to plan what activities are required to implement the change.

  • The change complexity assessment evaluates how complex the project is. It looks at how many people could be impacted, what the size of the impact could be, how many business units are impacted, whether multiple systems and processes are impacted, etc.

  • Change resourcing costing. At the planning phase of the project cost required for the change management stream of the work is required. This includes such as any contractors, communication campaigns, learning cost, travel, and administration cost, just to name a few.

  • Change readiness assessment is usually conducted prior to the change and during the change. Usually, the same set of questions is asked of various stakeholder groups to assess their readiness for change.

‘Execute’ phase

The execute phase is one of the most critical parts of the project. Activities are in full flight and the project is busy iterating and re-iterating changes to ensure successful execution to achieve project goals.

  • Communication and engagement tracking. Effective engagement of stakeholders in the change is absolutely critical. Stakeholder interviews, surveys, communication readership rates are all ways in which engagement may be tracked.

  • Learning tracking. Measuring learning is critical since it tracks to what extent the new competencies and skills have been acquired through learning interventions. Typical measurements include course tests or quizzes in addition to course evaluations. On the job performance may also be used to track learning outcomes and to what extent learning has been applied in the work setting.

  • Change readiness assessment continues to be critical to track during the execution phase of the project

‘Realise’ phase

In this phase of the project the change has ‘gone live’ and most project activities have been completed. It is anticipated in this phase that the ‘change’ occurs and that the benefits can then be tracked and measured.

  • Change benefit tracking measures and tracks the extent to which the targeted benefits and outcomes have been achieved. Some of these measures may be ‘hard’ quantitative measures whilst others may be ‘soft’ measures that are more behavioural.

Business level measures

Business level measures are those that measure to what extent the business has the right ability, capacity, and readiness for the change.

  • Change heatmaps can help to visualize which part of the business is most impacted by 1 project or multiple projects. The power of the change heatmap is in visualizing which part of the business is the most impacted, and to compare the relative impacts across businesses. As the number of change initiatives increase so would the complexity of the change. When facing this situation organisations need to graduate from relying on excel spreadsheets to using more sophisticated data visualization tools to aid data-based decision making. To read more about change heatmaps and why this is not the only way to understand business change impact, go to The Death of the Change Heatmap.

  • Sponsor readiness/capability assessment can be a critical tool to help identify any capability gaps in the sponsor so that effort may be taken to support the sponsor. A strong and effective sponsor can make or break a change initiative. Early engagement and support of the sponsor are critical. Both Prosci, as well as Changefirst, have sponsor competency assessment offerings.

  • Change champion capability assessment. Change champion or change agent are critical ‘nodes’ in which to drive and support change within the organizational network. A lot of change champions are appointed only for one particular initiative. Having a business-focus change champion network means that their capability can be developed over time, and they can support multiple initiatives and not just one. Assessing and supporting change champion capability would also directly translate to better change outcomes.

  • Change leadership and change maturity assessment – refer to the previous section

  • Change capacity assessment.

In an environment where there is significant change happening concurrently, careful planning and sequencing of change in balance with existing capacity are critical. There are several aspects of change capacity that should be called out in the measurement process:

  1. Different parts of the business can have different capacity for change. Those parts of the business with better change capability, and perhaps with better change leadership, are often able to receive and digest more changes than other businesses that do not possess the same level of capability.

  2. Some businesses are much more time-sensitive and therefore their change capacity needs to be measured with more granularity. For example, call centre staff capacity is often measured in terms of minutes. Therefore, to effectively plan for their change capacity, the impacts of change needs to be quantified and articulated in a precise, time-bound context so that effective resourcing can be planned in advance.

  3. The change tolerance or change saturation level for business needs careful measurement in combination with operational feedback to determine. For example, it could be that last month a part of the business experienced significant change impact across several initiatives happening at the same time. The operational indicators were that there was some impact on customer satisfaction, productivity, and there were negative sentiments reported by staff that there was too much change to handle. This could mean that the change tolerance level may have been exceeded. With the right measurement of change impact levels for that part of the business, next time this level of change is seen, previous lessons may be utilized to plan for this volume of change. Utilise measurement and data visualization tools such as the Change Compass to track change capacity.

Enterprise level change measures

At an enterprise level, many of the business unit level measures are still applicable. However, the focus is comparing across different business units to sense-make what each part of the business is going through and if the overall picture is aligned with the intentions and the strategic direction of the organization. For example, typical questions include:

  • Is it surprising that one part of the business is undergoing significant change whilst another is not?

  • Is there a reason that one business unit is focused on a few very large changes whilst for other business units there is a larger set of changes each with smaller impacts?

  • Is the overall pace of change optimum according to strategic intent? Does it need to speed up or slow down?

  • What is the process to govern, report and make decisions on enterprise level change, prioritization, sequencing and benefit realization?

  • Is there one business unit that is able to manage change more effectively, faster with greater outcomes? How can other business units leverage any internal best practices?

As mentioned in the Change Management Measures diagram, some enterprise level change measures include:

  • Change capacity assessment – Does one business unit’s change capacity limits mean that we are not able to execute on a critical strategy within the allocated time? How do we create more capacity?   Ways in which to create more capacity could include more resources such as staff, or initiative funding, more time is given, or more talent to lead initiatives

  • Change maturity assessment – At an enterprise level, the concern is with the overall change maturity of the organization. How do we implement enterprise level interventions to build change maturity through programs, networks, and exchanges, such as:

    • Enterprise change capability programs

    • Enterprise change analytics and measurement tools

    • Enterprise change methodology

    • Enterprise network of change champions

  • Strategy impact map – Change management need not be focused only on project execution or business unit capability. It can also demonstrate value at an enterprise level by focusing on strategy execution (which by definition is change). The way in which different strategies exert impact on various business units may be visualized to help stakeholder understand which initiatives within which strategic intent impact which business units.  To illustrate this please refer to the below diagram which is an example of a strategy impact map. In this diagram, each of the organisation’s strategy is displayed with different initiatives branching out of each strategy. The width of each initiative correlates with the level of impact that the initiative has on the business over a pre-determined period of time. Therefore, the width of each strategy also indicates the overall relative impact on the business.

This data visualization artifact can be valuable for business leaders and strategic planning functions as it depicts visually how the implementation of various strategies is impacting business units.   This helps planners to better understand strategy implementation impacts, potential risks and opportunities, and balancing change pace with strategy goals at various points in time.

  • Predictive indicators on business performance – We started this article talking about how data is all around us and we also need to better manage change using data. With quantitative data on change impact, it is possible to ascertain any correlations with operational business indicators such as customer satisfaction, service availability, etc. For those business indicators where there is a significant correlation, it is possible to hence use predictive reporting to forecast performance indicator trends, given planned change impacts.

In the below graph you can see an example of this whereby using historical data it is possible to establish correlations and therefore forecast future impact on business indicators. This example is focused on the customer contact centre (CCC) and key business indicator of average handling time (AHT) is utilized as an illustration.

Ultimate guide to change portfolio management

Ultimate guide to change portfolio management

The change management profession has grown by leaps and bounds. This is proportional to the speed and magnitude of change that organizations are currently going through. To manage this complexity, a lot of large organizations have created ‘enterprise change management’ or ‘portfolio change management roles’ to tackle this.

In the same way that there are portfolio managers to manage a suite of projects, organizations are realizing that portfolio change managers may be needed to effectively drive change success. Like the portfolio manager, the portfolio change manager also manages a particular group of initiatives. This grouping is usually done based on the size of change initiatives and or business groups. There are also examples of groupings by ‘value stream’ or program clusters. For example, a portfolio change manager may be in charge of all technology projects and supporting the technology group, whilst another portfolio change manager support sales and marketing initiatives or back office groups.

To download our infographic on how to manage a change portfolio click here.

As a new field, there is not a lot of ‘how-do’ guides for the new portfolio change manager. A quick scan of the internet found very little substance in term of all facets of the work of the portfolio change manager. This guide is written to fill this gap and to help those starting out in this role or decisions makers considering creating such roles to build change effectiveness.

To effectively manage the change initiatives within the portfolio, the change portfolio manager needs to proactively work on the below 7 key areas:

1) Service offering

Defining the service you are offering to the organization is one of the most critical activities. To do this, you need to conduct an assessment of where the organization is at and its various needs for change management services. Key questions to ask include:

  • How mature is the organization in managing change? You may want to refer to the Change Management Institute’s model of Change Maturity here to understand the different stages of organizational change maturity
  • How much change is the organization going through? This will help determine the capacity of services required
  • How much investment is the organization willing to make to support change management? There may be a budget already set or you may need to make a recommendation based on any available internal or external benchmarks
  • What are the most critical needs? Conduct stakeholder interviews or workshops with senior managers, middle managers and frontline groups to understand current change challenges holistically.

After understanding the needs of the organizations and where the organization would like to head to in its change management objectives, one can then define services required.

Common services offered by a portfolio change manager or portfolio change management function includes:

  1. Change project delivery services (e.g. change impact assessment, change planning, stakeholder management, etc.)
  2. Change diagnostics (e.g. initiative change health assessment)
  3. Change capability improvement offerings (e.g. training, workshop facilitation, leadership assessments)
  4. Coaching and advisory (e.g. for managers and leaders in driving change)

2) Service Delivery

After defining the service provision, the next activity to focus on is how these services will be delivered. This depends on organizational needs, resources available and the skills of available practitioners in the group.   Examples of service delivery options include:

  • Low involvement – Consultation
    1. Change activities are managed and driven by the business or project teams with targeted support from the Change group
    2. The change group is engaged as required over the life cycle of the project to provide guidance and consultation
    3. In terms of change capability, this involves advising and consulting with the business as required
  • Moderate involvement – Partnering
    1. Change activities are mostly delivered by the Change group with ongoing involvement from the business and the project team
    2. A resource is assigned to support the initiative over the whole life cycle. However, this may not require 100% full-time support and involvement may ramp up or down depending on project needs
    3. In terms of change capability, this involves working on significant pieces of deliverables such as change capability intervention design and delivery
  • High involvement – Full Delivery
    1. Under the full delivery model the Change group is directly accountable for managing all change deliverables, working alongside the project and business teams
    2. One or more full-time Change resource may be assigned to the whole project lifecycle, including specialists such as communications, learning or even organization design leads
    3. In terms of change capability, this involves significant work on a range of change capability interventions such as a range of learning programs, building air traffic control systems and individual leadership effectiveness assessment and coaching

3) Manage resourcing & Forecasting demand

Depending on the services offered and business requirements, the Change team composition may look different. For example, for some organizations where the need is more on coaching and advisory services, fewer but more senior Change practitioners may be needed. On the other hand, for another organization where the focus is more on project delivery, the focus may be placed on a number of Change Managers and Change Analysts to support initiative delivery.

Key decision should be placed on achieving a balance of permanent headcounts versus contractors. Permanent in-house practitioners will have a deeper understanding of organizational needs and how the organization works. Contractor staffing is beneficial so as to allow the flexing or resources up or down across initiatives. Organizations that only rely on Change contractors usually fail to significantly build business change capability and maturity over time. This is because over time Change Management is seen by the business to be an activity done by contractor practitioners, thus not diluting their accountability. The group may also leverage external providers as needed for specialist skills or to offset any requirement peaks.

Forecasting demand is an important activity to get right so as not to set stakeholder expectations that cannot be fulfilled. Demand forecasting for Change services involves the following:

  1. Extrapolating any change capability organizational requirements into anticipated FTE resource levels. This may be done in consultation with the project management office (PMO), Human Resources and Senior Managers
  2. In resourcing for project delivery, the team needs to work closely with the PMO and project portfolio managers to anticipate demand. The Change group should also align with the PMO on any prioritization processes so as to be ‘joint-at-the-hip’ in focusing on critical initiatives that have been agreed to be the most strategic and valuable first and foremost.
  3. In scoping for each initiative the Change group needs to ensure that it is included and involved in the inception of the initiative. Often Change professionals are engaged when the project is well into implementation and when it may be too late to ‘fix’ any change issues. To adequately scope an initiative key questions to be asked include:
    1. How many parts of the business is impacted? How many employees?
    2. What is the magnitude of the impact?
  • What is the complexity of the change? Is it innovative or disruptive? Do we anticipate significant transitional efforts involved?
  1. What are the behavioural impacts?
  2. Are customers impacted?
  3. How are key stakeholder groups impacted? Could there be potential for stakeholder sensitivities?

To support purely agile projects, the Change group needs to define change deliverables throughout each phase of the initiative delivery cycle. From then, determine the resource requirement. Foundational change management work will still be applicable within an agile environment, including conducting change impact assessment, planning for change, measuring readiness for change and building business transition capability.

4) Portfolio management

At the lower end of the maturity curve, the Portfolio Change Manager may spend most of the time scoping for change resources, managing delivery, managing change professionals and liaising with key stakeholders. These are absolutely necessary activities. However, to really move up the strategic ladder the Portfolio Change Manager also needs to be able to influence the planning of the initiative portfolio versus only focusing on the delivery end of the curve.

In most organizations the PMO is tasked with managing the initiative investment and planning process. Most would refer to strategic objectives and goals and through this define the overall slate of initiatives for the coming year. Key data used include financial targets, initiative benefits, initiative resourcing and investment cost, and timing. The Portfolio Change Manager is often not involved in this process at all, or best, invited for comments around ‘change saturation’ or ‘change collision’ that are not substantiated by hard data.

To be at the decision table in planning effectively for change, the Portfolio Change Manager needs to be equipped with data to aid insight and decision making. How? By building an integrated view of change impacts. Currently, a lot of organizations still use a series of disjointed spreadsheets to try and articulate the change impacts across initiatives. The problem with this is is that:

  1. The data is based on a person’s judgment in terms of whether an initiative has high, medium or low impacts, and not linked to structured impact assessments
  2. The three categories of high, medium and low are mostly inadequate when the organization is going through a significant number of initiatives. Each category could include such a big range of impacts that it may not be precise enough for the business to use this data. Can the business use this data to forecast frontline impact and resourcing levels? Definitely no.
  3. The spreadsheet is also extremely manual, consuming significant time. And it also becomes out of date very quickly and so may not be trusted by senior leaders or the PMO. Large companies often have more than 100 initiatives. At this scale, a manual spreadsheet is inadequate to meet business needs.

To address this problem, The Change Compass is a digital tool designed to make it easier for the Change Portfolio Manager or the PMO to piece together all the change impacts across change initiatives. Each initiative owner inputs change impact data and the system prompts the user to update the data. The interface is intuitive and draws out the impacts step by step. The Portfolio Change Manager and other managers are able to instantly generate various reports. In a nutshell it helps the organization to manage the ‘air traffic control’ of landing initiatives. Moreover, it enables:

  • Single view of change impacts on the business, and allows diagnostic view at different organizational levels, e.g. team, sub-division, divisional and enterprise levels
  • Forecast business operations readiness and resourcing impacts from changes, e.g. frontline resourcing required, engagement channels required, stakeholder groups impacted, etc.
  • Measure/Model impact of changes on business performance indicators.  Understand correlation between change impact and customer satisfaction, service availability or other measures
  • View integrated heat map of all change impacts on customer experience, customer segment by customer segment
  • Build business change capability through change data and effective routines
  • Upgrade change work to become more strategic, leveraging data to have strategic conversations and support data-based business decision making
  • Support agile ways of working through managing iterative and continuous change across the board

To check out our article on how to better manage a change portfolio click here.

5) Change Governance

The Portfolio Change Manager should work with the PMO and senior managers to ensure the appropriate governance and routines are designed and set up. To do this, analyse the business requirements in connecting different stakeholder groups to ensure alignment, buy-in, visibility and ownership of the initiative slate. Portfolio change governance bodies should include attendance by PMO, senior business leaders and the Portfolio Change Manager should focus on reporting and tracking on business impacts, business readiness, delivery milestones and delivery risk identification and mitigation.

Typical routines that the Portfolio Change Manager should assist in establishing include:

  1. Business unit level change planning and cadence (focused on initiative delivery)
  2. Business unit level change capability and program intervention planning and tracking (focused on change maturity)
  3. Initiative portfolio level planning, risk management and tracking
  4. Change team meeting
  5. As needed, enterprise level change planning and cadence

6) Change metrics and reporting

Whilst change impact data is critical to support the work of change governance bodies, there are other initiative-level metrics that the Portfolio Change Manager needs to be focused on in tracking and reporting. These include:

  1. Change readiness surveys
  2. Learning and development tracking and results
  3. Communication metrics such as hit rate or readership rate
  4. Stakeholder confidence ratings

7) Methodology & tools

Currently, there is a significant trend of moving towards agile project methodology in most large organizations. This means that there are less focus and reliance on documentation, long planning cycles but more on effective conversations, stakeholder alignment, and constant iteration and learning. On top of this, a lot of organization are also moving toward scaled agile methodology (agile at organizational level vs. within an initiative). The Portfolio Change Manager needs to define key change deliverables and work approaches that suit his/her organization (acknowledging that agile may not suit every organization or every initiative).

Having effective change tools means that the business can self-help and the change practitioner can better coach and develop the business. For the Portfolio Change Manager useful tools may include:

  • Change scoping assessment tool for initiatives
  • Change resource estimation tool
  • Change Impact Assessment template/tool
  • Change plan template. For agile environments this would be the Change Canvas
  • Capability and skills assessment
  • Change readiness assessment
  • Change framework for the business to help uplift change capability. This should focus on key change outcomes and competencies for any change leader, written in a language they can understand

The Portfolio Change Manager is tasked with a complex set of tasks in driving a set of change initiatives for the organization. He/she needs to have the people skills to influence a range of stakeholders to transition to the new state. In addition, the person needs to possess business acumen and analytical skills to support the PMO and senior managers to make the right decisions to drive change across initiatives. Whilst not exhaustive, this guide calls out key critical areas undertaken by the Portfolio Change Manager. To be successful going forward, the Portfolio Change Manager needs to constantly deliver value and provide insight through leveraging digital tools and hard data to be at the decision-making table.

Check out our Ultimate guide to agile for change managers.


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