7 key steps to effective change management

With budgets being squeezed and competition across all industries fiercer than ever, change management is a hot topic for many of the UK’s top managers and directors. Many invest in change consultants to make recommendations on how to improve processes, systems and ways of working.

But how do managers ensure that change actually happens once the consultants walk out the door, and how to organisations ensure the business is able to continue to adapt? I recommend 7 key steps to effective change management.

1. Instilling behavioural change – most employees resist change for two reasons. Firstly a fear of losing their job, and secondly nervousness that new ways of working are too complicated. Helping employees to embrace change depends on having a clear end goal and communicating on progress towards that goal regularly. This helps dispel the fear of change across the organisation by reassuring them of the benefits it brings the business.

2. Earning IT support – getting the IT team on board with new ways of working from the onset is vital to ensure that the technology strategy supports the new processes.

3. Introducing incremental change – the most successful change projects start with small changes and introduce new systems and processes slowly to earn employee trust and buy-in. This means defining key priorities and focusing resources on changing those important areas first.

4. Make continual changes – developing new ways of working can take time to perfect. The processes should evolve over time to cater for changes to the business. Companies that always look for new ways to self-improve use change management strategies to gain an edge over the competition.

5. Give business owners the tools – as soon as the vision and objectives for the change strategy are communicated, it’s important that responsibility is handed over to employees as quickly as possible. Giving users the ability to visualise, change and adapt processes helps introduce change quickly with a higher chance of success.

6. Tap into the cloud – cloud computing is a catalyst for change. Companies need choices for how they leverage the cloud to develop new systems and support new ways of working without having to invest in upfront capital expenditure.

7. Process innovation – encourage staff to look at new ways of doing things. Just because you have always done things one way does not been it’s the best or most efficient approach. Ask new employees how they might improve processes and systems to gain a fresh perspective.

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Richard Helliar is the UK managing director at Cordys, the leading business process management software and services company. Richard has over 10 years of industry experience helping organisations to select technology solutions that enable them to achieve their business objectives. Before joining Cordys, he worked in both sales and systems engineering roles at Oracle, BEA Systems and Novell as well as spending time at start-ups in the 1990s. Richard holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Brunel University and in between family and work occasionally finds time for a bit of running, mountain boarding and squash.