How to implement a change successfully

In order to implement a change successfully you need to: Involve, Engage, Inform and Make it work in practise. 

Quite often it hits me that people think they have implemented a new system or a new way of working simply by adding it as an instruction in the Management System, or in their common folder for Processes. To be very clear: It is not implemented and people will not work according to it just because of instructions or processes!

Another thing that I have experienced many times is that we believe the Management have the best knowhow about how a new process should look like. And if people are not following the process (which might be insufficient) we build in complicated workflows and steps of approval into the system to make people follow the process. I tell you, the people who work in the processes know how to best improve them and how to make them efficient. Complicated workflows and approval steps only becomes bottlenecks and creates more lead time.

To get a new process or system implemented and efficiently fit for purpose, you need to secure a few things:

Involve and Engage

Firstly, you need to involve and engage the people that will use the system or work according to the process when you develop it. In other words; involve them as early as possible! The reason for this is not just because you will get more time for them to get used to the change, but also because they are the ones that can tell you what they need from the system in order to fulfil their daily job. These people are very important to engage so make them feel heard. It is equally important to get the Management involved. Make sure that they stand beside you and take the lead in sending a positive message and stating the importance of the change.


Secondly, the importance of communication. Make sure that people who will get affected by the change will hear about what will happen and why it will happen and how they are affected in existing roles. Keep people informed, make sure that you don’t let them hear about the new system or process when they are acting as user acceptance testers, that’s too late! Also, be aware that about 30 % of us humans prefer information through pictures.  A written manual doesn’t work for them. Therefore, you need to alter your training and communication channels.

Make it work in practice

Thirdly, make sure the new system is coherent with the actual way of working instead of a theoretical process description. And make sure you’ve had people that will work according to the process testing it before you implement it. Otherwise you risk ending up with a system or a new process that isn’t possible to implement and never will be used. That’s a waste of time and money.

This is not something new nor rocket science, I am aware of that. But still, these three simple things are often not prioritised or even forgotten. And based on my experience as a project manager dealing with change every day, I recommend you to not forget these important steps. Prioritise them if you would like to succeed with your implementation and maximize the business value of the investment.

Curious about project management the Stretch way? Check this out!

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