What Change Management Is and Why You Need It

FailChange happens. Sometimes it’s necessary and desirable for business growth. Sometimes it’s unexpected and unwanted. Regardless, a successful small business is one that is flexible enough to roll with the punches yet organized enough to thoroughly examine and monitor each major change for unintended consequences – in other words, one with a change management system in place.

When it comes to information technology, change often occurs because a problem or inefficiency exists within the system, and a better way has been discovered. As any seasoned business leader knows, however, these IT “improvements” can often become disasters – especially when they’re hastily implemented. To avoid such a debacle, it’s a good idea for small businesses to seek the help of an IT consultant in formulating a change management plan for technology systems and processes.

What is a change management plan?

Essentially, a change management plan is a system of checks that help ensure any IT changes within your organization – from minor user requests to company-wide software or hardware upgrades – will be beneficial rather than harmful. Instead of simply racing forward to implement the latest technology, a change management plan requires project leaders to stop and consider all of the ramifications, including how other departments and even company operations as a whole will be affected. Change management consultants also recommend creating a plan that includes a means for tracking progress as the change is rolled out.

Why do I need a change management plan?

There are obstacles to change in every business, as any IT consultant could tell you. Employees may consciously or unconsciously put up a resistance in order to protect the status quo. Significant modifications may even require other preliminary changes to be made first. A change management plan allows you to anticipate such obstacles and decide ahead of time how your organization will deal with them.

For example, if a company is preparing for an organization-wide upgrade to the newest operating system, most change management consultants would suggest creating a change management process to track and assess all of the computers that need updating. This includes which units can be upgraded immediately; which need hardware improvements before they can be upgraded; and which cannot be upgraded. An IT consultant might also recommend including a detailed plan for implementation that takes into account available IT staff; what resources will be needed at the time of implementation; and when the upgrades should occur in order to avoid interfering with daily business operations.

Without a change management plan in place, all of the contingencies addressed above would have to be dealt with as they arose, which could result in unexpected costs and delays.

Change management doesn’t just apply to information technology; it’s useful across the board for handling all changes within an organization. With the help of change management consultants, small businesses can better equip themselves to accommodate future growth.

[ photo by: thegarethwiscombe, on Flickr, via CC License ]

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