Change Management Tutorial | What Is Change Management

This Comprehensive Guide to Change Management Explains Change Management Process, Models, Benefits, and 7Rs in Detail:

Change Management (CM) is the set of tools, processes, and techniques that are used for helping individuals in transitioning from an existing state in the organization to a new state.

CM can be understood as:

  • Configuration management for managing code and requirements.
  • Implementing organizational change.
  • Tracking any changes that occur in the IT infrastructure – IT Service Management (ITSM).

Change Management Tutorial

Change Management Overview

The goal of CM is to apply strategies for performing the change of an organization’s goals, processes, or technologies, supervising change requests, and assisting employees to accommodate the proposed change.

This means that it is mandatory to have:

  • A procedure very well organized to address a change.
  • A well-prepared set of procedures for preparing a response to the requests.
  • A mechanism for following up on the implementation of the request.

To start a change management process, the organization has to take into account the impact that all the changed processes, systems will have within the organization.

The following processes should be in place:

  • Plan the change
  • Test the change
  • Communicate the change
  • Schedule the change
  • Implement the change
  • Document the change
  • Evaluate the results

Documentation is an important aspect of CM because we have to maintain the process and also to rollback in case such an action is necessary.

Change Management Definition

Based on various points of view, CM can be defined as follows:

  • From an infrastructure professional’s point of view, it is the systematic approach for approbation, testing, and putting in place a new piece of equipment, or new release.
  • From the Project point of view, it is the process used to acquire approval for changes to the scope, timeline, or budget of a project.
  • From the Methodologies – PMP, Prince2, ITIL, ISO20000 perspective, it is the process to obtain an approbation and implement changes to a project or operating environment.
  • From the PROSCI, Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP), the Innovation and Organizational Change Management Institute (IOCMI) point of view, it is the process for assisting organizations to use CM at each level.
  • From the software development point of view, it is the process involving tracking and managing changes requirements and code.

Change management processes are also responsible to track any changes that occur in an IT infrastructure. ISO 20000 is the standard that defines the objective of Change Management. To track and handle it properly, every change made in a set of standardized methods and procedures is used.

In terms of documentation changes, the name used for such a change is a configuration management and it is mandatory to use a change management tool to handle properly the version control.

A CM tool will perform the following actions:

  • Track all the performed changes.
  • Give ground to the performed changes in case it is needed.
  • Ensure that the multiple paths will be available for having the possibility to develop different versions of the same product at the same time.
  • Ensure that code fixes or code improvements are related to defects, builds, and releases.

Taking into account the introduction, it must be clear that to define the term change management, we will have to understand the context in which we would like to define it.

Types Of Organizational Changes

It is a part of management used to manage many types of organizational change. Most important organizational changes types are as follows:

  1. Developmental Change: This means any changes at the organizational level dealing with an improvement on previously established processes and procedures.
  2. Transitional Change: It is the change dealing with moving the organization from the existing state to another completely new state on the assumption that the organization has a problem that can be solved by changing the current state.
  3. Transformational Change: It is dealing with the change that fundamentally amends the culture and operation of an organization.

7R’s Of Change Management

ITIL “Business Perspectives Volume II” contains a checklist with seven simple questions in the chapter on business continuity that outlines the steps in determining change risk change and surveying the effectiveness of the change management process.

The seven questions are discussed below:

#1) “Who RAISED the change?”

There are many entry points and stakeholders identified as a source of change. This conducts to the idea that it is mandatory to have a system for collecting all changes. Such a system should incorporate acceptable controls to deal with amendment hands-off across purposeful areas.

#2) “What is the REASON for the change?”

First of all, we have to understand if the change can introduce risk without any business benefits. Every major change should be analyzed against an agreed-upon portfolio analysis criteria.

#3) “What RETURN is required from the change?”

It is mandatory to understand if the change generates a financial payback.

#4) “What are the RISKS involved in the change?”

 The risks are classified in risks that may be accepted or risks that should be mitigated. A crucial step in defining the danger involved is to analyze the impact of change on the present infrastructure. ITIL is using the concept of “severity” for potential risks and actual problems.

#5) “What RESOURCES are required to deliver the change?”

When we are discussing resources we are thinking at people and IT assets needed for the implementation of the change. From the people’s perspective, we have to understand what are the skills needed to implement the change. After we have understood the skills needed, we have to be sure that those skills are available.

#6) “Who is RESPONSIBLE for the ‘build, test, and implement’ portion of the change?”

Responsibilities for the build, test, and implement the application changes should be divided according to compliance and auditing requirements. Segregation of responsibilities should be traceable, enforceable, and actionable across the whole change and release management process.

#7) “What is the RELATIONSHIP between this change and other changes?”

An analysis of change relationships needs to be done from within and across functional boundaries. The scheduling of planned changes should be shared and in this way change impact analysis and relationship, mapping can be part of an integrated Configuration Management Database (CMDB).

Answering these seven questions provides some important benefits:

  • The services are more reliable and available to customers because the organizations have to use a set of metrics that provides a more objective means of measuring change risk.
  • We can understand how well our change-management process complies with the existing one and identify them in the new techniques.
  • Having an auditable change-management process is essential because there is a dependence between business on IT services and new requirements.

Models For Change Management

The purpose of the change management models is to provide guiding principles for helping managers to align the scope of proposed changes with existing tools.

#1) ADKAR (Prosci)

The ADKAR model is a sequential goal-oriented change management model. It was created by Jeff Hiatt, founder of Prosci.

ADKAR (Prosci)

[image source]

Awareness and desired purpose are to change the current state, in which we are realizing that a change is needed but the process of changing has not yet begun.

During the transition phase, appears knowledge and ability. And in the future, there will appear reinforcement.

GOAL 1: Awareness

Sometimes change is inevitable in an organization and will take people out of their comfort zones. If we will explain the reason behind the change well ahead of time, then the employees will have enough time to accept the change and to prepare for it.

GOAL 2: Desire

If the employees will understand the need for change and the benefits included with it, we will see an enthusiastic attitude and a desire to participate in change implementation.

If we do not understand the employee’s feelings regarding change and we do not address properly their fears and show them how the change benefits them personally, then they will not fully support the change and they will not have the desire to participate in the change implementation.

GOAL 3: Knowledge

To implement new procedures, we will have to train the team and provide them with the best practices so that they can understand how to implement the change.

GOAL 4: Ability

It takes practice to translate knowledge to ability. It is better to have some simulation to analyze the results and make adjustments. We have to monitor employees when they have started the implementation of the changes and based on constructive feedback we can improve the process.

GOAL 5: Reinforcement

The idea behind this goal is that we have to encourage employees to keep following the change over time.

#2) Bridges Transition Model

Bridges Transition Model was developed by William Bridges. It is a people-centered model. The main purpose is to manage the people’s experience transition to change. The strength of this model is that it is focused on transition, not on change.

The idea of Bridges is that the people will follow the stages at their own pace. The model identifies 3 stages of transition:

  • Stage 1: Ending, Losing, and Letting Go

When the employees will have the first time presentation of the change, they will enter this initial stage of transition. They will be resistant because they are somehow forced to do something that they are not conformable with. Employees have to understand and accept that something is ending before they will accept the new idea.

  • Stage 2: Uncertainty or Neutral Zone

This stage is like a bridge between the old state and the new state. The employees are still be attached to the old but they are trying to adapt to the new state. This is a perfect moment for employees to be encouraged to try a new way of working. The feedback is really important at this stage.

  • Stage 3: Acceptance or New Beginning

This is the time when the employees are starting to accept the change initiative. Employees are building the skills needed for new procedures.

#3) IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL)

This is the framework containing detailed guidance for managing the changes in the IT infrastructures and IT operations.

ITIL 4 was released in 2019 and it has the main key points focus on automating processes, improving service management, and integrating the IT department into the business.

ITIL 4 contains nine guiding principles and are presented in the figure below:

IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL)

[image source]

Before implementing ITIL in an organization, it is mandatory to respond to some questions related to like, what problems in the organization are trying to solve, and what the route to continual service improvement is.

#4) Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model

John Kotter has introduced the 8 Step Model of Change which he has developed based on the research of 100 organizations that were in a process of change.

Kotter suggests that we have to work hard on Step One before moving onto the next steps.

The figure below explained Kotter’s 8 step model:

Kotter’s 8 step change model

He has outlined the 8 steps change model to demonstrate that change is not a simple and quick process. To perform the business change, we should be careful, as it is a huge investment and at a big cost.

Change Management Process

Each business areas have some specific tools and applications for CM. We will present here some example which will help us to figure out how CM is working for IT infrastructure, software development, and project coordination.

For Project Management

Change management plays an important role in activities performed for managing projects. The person managing the project should carefully analyze change requests and determine the effect generated by the change for the project.

The project areas that can be affected by the change are:

  • The scope of the project: How change request will affect the scope of the project?
  • The schedule of the project: How change requests will amend the schedule?
  • The project costs: How change request will modify the project cost?
  • Quality: How change request will affect the quality of the final project?
  • Human resources: Determine if additional or specialized human resources are required.
  • Communications: After approval of the change requests, this should be communicated to the appropriate stakeholders at a proper time.
  • Risk: Determine the risks generated by change requests: logistical, financial, or security risks.
  • Procurement: A change request can affect procurement efforts for materials and contract labor.
  • Stakeholders: Change requests can generate loosing of the stakeholder and can affect the stakeholders’ support of the project.

The project manager should document the approved change requests and also the declined change requests.

For Software Development

A change is a request for something different than what was agreed on at the beginning of the project, sprint, phase (it depends on the client contract).

We will introduce here a new term: Change Order. A change order is a piece of work that should be added to or should be deleted from the original scope of a contract.

We are asking what does it mean by change in software development:

  • Change in specifications, business requirements
  • Change in requirement
  • Change of the application design
  • Change of code
  • Change of testing
  • Change can be originated by:
    • Customers
    • Users
    • Project team
    • Test team

Agile methodology inspires changes in the requirements, changes during the software development process, and also changes in the User Interface (UI). Stories are used for tracking change requests.

After the client, project manager, or other stakeholders have decided the change order is valuable, the following rough steps should be done:

  1. Perform impact analysis
  2. Create a clear list of what will be the impact of the change for:
    • Project timeline (it may be extended)
    • Pricing (should be communicated to the stakeholders)
    • Scope (it is possible to have features that can be removed to include the new one)

Depending on the project type and industry it is possible to have also additional steps after the approval of the change order.

One of the key points in the change order process is the approval process. The change request needs to be approved. For this approval process, an input of the change request with detailed documentation is mandatory to be created.

The detailed documentation should contain information about the price of the change request, the scope of the change request, the time needed to resolve the change request, and detailed impact analysis of the change request on the system.

Changes are originated from various sources including customers, end-users, the project team, or the test team.

Changes from customers and end-users are usually changes in the requirements. Changes coming from the project teams are usually designing changes. Changes coming from the testing team can request code changes. Changes have to be communicated to the Software Project Manager (SPM). A Change Request (CR) form should be used.

Change Request (CR) should contain at least the following entries:

  1. A serial number used for Change Request unique identification.
  2. A clear description of the change request.
  3. The date on which the Change Request was raised.
  4. Usually, the change request should be allocated to somebody for analysis. It is mandatory to have a list with some inputs related to allocation details. This list contains: 
    • Date of allocation
    • Completion date
    • Persons to whom the change request is allocated for analysis
  5. A change request should be allocated to somebody for approval. So we will have to track the approval inputs:
    • Date of allocation for approval
    • Completion date
    • The person responsible for approval
  6. A change request should be allocated also for a resolution. So we will have to track the following inputs for resolution:
    • Date of allocation for resolution
    • Completion date
    • The person responsible for the resolution
  7. A change request should be allocated also for peer review. So we will have to track the following inputs for the peer review:
    • Date of allocation for the peer review.
    • The completion date of the peer review.
    • The person who is responsible for peer review.
  8. A change request should be allocated also for regression testing. So we will have to track the following inputs for the regression testing:
    • Date of allocation for regression testing.
    • The completion date of the regression testing.
    • The person who is responsible for regression testing.
  9. A change request should have a clear status. Status can have one value from the following set ( open, closed or under analysis, approval, resolution, peer review, regression testing)
  10. When we close the Change request we will have to mention the date of closing.

For a better organization, after receiving the CR this should be registered in a tool.

Then the analysis should be done to understand if the implementation is feasible or not, the schedule and the effort needed for implementation, and the impact of the CR on the project schedule and cost.

The status of implementation, progress of CR resolution is reported through Weekly Status Reports to the concerned executives.

For IT Infrastructure

Change management tools are used to track changes made to an IT department’s hardware infrastructure. Every change made to the infrastructure should be assessed, approved, documented, implemented, and reviewed systematically. Changes made to hardware settings are referred to as configuration management (CM).

Difficulties In Change Management

There are many difficulties in change management because a lot of employees are not accepting the changes. It is difficult to change if we did not understand that we have to change our thinking. With a strategic approach to change, adopting new processes can be easy. Clear communication is necessary to adopt changes.

Below is a list of challenges and difficulties:

  1. Conflicts: Change can show emotions like confusion and concern. Conflict is a typical unintended reaction of confusion and concern. The leader should help the team conquer difficulties. Conflicts will disturb our schedule. This is the reason for which we must take action to mitigate issues.
  2. Planning: The change will have no change to implementation without a correct plan. The benefits of a systematic procedure should be clearly explained.
  3. Lack of Communication: If the communication is not a good one then the speculation and rumors will be part of the organization, and a lack of trust will make it difficult for employees to embrace change.
  4. Resistance: Resistance needs to be addressed otherwise it will create many issues to change.

Change Management Process Benefits

One key factor of CM is that it provides conceptual scaffolding for people, the process, and the organization implementing the change.

Benefits for the Organization:

  • Change is a planned and managed process. The benefits of the change are known before implementation and serve as a motivation for the whole process.
  • The organization can respond rapidly to customer demands.
  • The resources can be aligned with the organization’s goals.
  • Employee performance increases when they feel supported and understand the change process.
  • Change can be implemented without a negative impact on the day to day business.
  • Permits the organization to rate the overall impact of a change.
  • Organizational effectiveness is improved.
  • Organizational efficiency is maintained.
  • Reduction of the time needed to implement change.
  • The possibility of an unsuccessful change is reduced.
  • Customer service is increased and the service to clients is coming from confident and knowledgeable employees.
  • Increased Return On Investment (ROI)
  • Helps to plan useful communication strategies

Benefits for Employees:

  • In case the change is well managed, it can minimize resistance to change.
  • Effective change management supports a rapid transition from the old to the new and can maintain productivity.
  • Provides employees support for concerns regarding changes.
  • An efficient CM process creates a correct understanding of the change for staff and the public.
  • Helps to plan efficient communication strategies.
  • Improves the quality of work.
  • Improves collaboration and communication.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q #1) What is Change Management?

Answer: CM is the set of tools, processes, and techniques used for helping individuals in transitioning from an existing state in the organization to a new state.

There are some important aspects:

  • Configuration management: Managing code and requirements.
  • Implementing organizational change.
  • Tracking any changes that occur in the IT infrastructure – IT Service Management (ITSM).

Q #2) What is the software change management process?

Answer: Software change management is the process of classifying the changes according to project criteria such as schedule and cost.

Q #3) What is the difference between change control and change management?

Answer: CM is a form of understanding, adjusting, and adapting to a new normal state after an organization transformation. Change control is the process of how changes to requirements are stored, analyzed, managed, and included in the roadmap and implementation schedule.

Q #4) What are the 3 sorts of change?

Answer: The subsequent sorts of changes include developmental change, transitional change, and transformational change.


Change management can increase the success of organizations and projects by applying structured tools, implementing several methods, and designing clear processes. Top management should plan to implement the change in a way so that the employees feel that the change is going to bring some positive outcomes for them.

There are various models for change management. While planning these models should be taken into account.

One key point in CM is involving people in the process of change. Change in an organization cannot be achieved without the support of employees and management. The correct plan for CM helps to ensure that the change process is started and managed by the right people at the right time.