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“You’ll know it when you see it...” but when it comes to good change management, will you really? If your organization is preparing to undertake a change initiative, developing the change management strategy is a key responsibility.

When it falls to the project manager (that’s you!), can you feel confident that you have the skills to support organizational change while running the project?

If you’re not sure, that’s okay; I’ve pulled together five real-life examples of change management to show you what good change management looks like (and why it’s good) so that you can see for yourself.

You’ll also pick up some tips, tricks, and methodologies to leverage to ensure that not only is your project a success, but so is the change management.

What Is Change Management?

So starting at the very beginning, let’s make sure we’re all thinking about change management in the same way.

A simple definition of change management from Project Management Institute is, “Change management is an organized, systematic application of the knowledge, tools, and resources of change that provides organizations with a key process to achieve their business strategy.”

When it comes to organizational change management there are several models and approaches that can be used to support transformational change.

One of the best-known models comes from Prosci and is called the ADKAR model. ADKAR is an acronym for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement, which are all needed in change management.

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5 Examples Of Effective Change Management

While there is a lot of theory behind change management, let’s look at some real-life examples and change management initiatives in real organizations. These change efforts may inspire you next time you have to create your own change management plan.

And, because we’re all digital project managers here, these examples are focused specifically on digital projects.

1. Changing from manual to automated inventory management

Thomas Paddock, Founder of Learn Online Arbitrage, undertook an initiative a few years ago to transition from a manual process of managing inventory to an automated one.

His goal was to embrace the technological advancements of AI and machine learning, streamline the operational processes, reduce the potential for human error, and of course, give himself and his team the edge in a highly competitive Amazon marketplace.

What they did was procure a robust inventory management software. But, he shared that getting the software was only half of the battle. The real challenge lay in integrating it into the system, managing the upheaval it would cause, and ensuring a smooth transition. 

The change would impact not just the team’s workflows but also their thought process. It was no surprise that this form of digital transformation was going to disrupt the status quo, and there were understandable apprehensions.

So how did Thomas and his team navigate this change? Transparency and clear communication were their primary tools.

He and other business leaders in his organization informed the team about the upcoming changes, the reasons behind them, and how they would help the business grow. They encouraged feedback, making team members active participants rather than passive recipients of the change.

Training sessions were arranged to familiarize everyone with the new software. This was complemented by hands-on demonstrations and trial runs. Some members faced more difficulties than others, but they persisted with patience, focusing on the long-term benefits over the short-term hurdles.

And sure enough, after a few months, the team began to see the fruits of their labor. The automation led to improved efficiency and accuracy, saving valuable time and resources. More importantly, it brought a change in mindset, a culture of adaptability that continues to fuel their growth today.

2. Adopting new technologies: CRM system

Josh Haley, the Founder of Moving Astute, shares an example of successful change management through the adoption of new technology in his organization. He and his team recognized the need to adapt to emerging technologies to stay ahead of the competition.

They embarked on a journey to implement a new customer relationship management (CRM) system that would automate various processes, streamline communication, and enhance the overall customer experience.

The process wasn’t without challenges (as is common with change initiatives) and his team encountered resistance from some team members who were accustomed to the existing systems.

To overcome this resistance, they conducted workshops to highlight the benefits of the new CRM system, addressing any concerns and providing hands-on training. Additionally, they appointed change champions within the team to serve as ambassadors and encourage their peers to embrace the change. 

By leveraging these change champions’ influence, they successfully navigated through the challenges and witnessed a remarkable improvement in efficiency and customer satisfaction.

One key takeaway Joshua provides is, “To effectively manage change, it is crucial to address individual concerns, provide comprehensive training, and leverage internal advocates who can drive adoption and enthusiasm among team members.”

3. Website redesign

“Change management plays a crucial role in ensuring the success and seamless implementation of digital projects.” writes Vaibhav Kakkar, CEO of Digital Web Solutions, when we asked him about his change management best practices. He shares one particular instance that comes to mind when his team embarked on a major website redesign for a prominent client.

With tight deadlines and numerous stakeholders involved, effective change management became imperative to navigate potential obstacles smoothly.

They implemented an iterative approach, breaking down the project into smaller phases which allowed for incremental changes and continuous feedback from both the client and end-users.

This approach not only ensured that any required modifications were made promptly but also fostered collaboration between his team members, encouraging open communication throughout every stage of development.

By involving all relevant parties early on and maintaining transparency regarding any changes or challenges faced during the process, we were able to successfully deliver a revamped website that exceeded expectations while mitigating resistance to change among key stakeholders.

Utilizing various change management techniques such as regular status updates, training sessions, and user acceptance testing further contributed to the overall success by addressing concerns proactively and incorporating valuable input from different perspectives within our diverse team. 

Ultimately, this experience highlighted how effective change management can drive positive outcomes in digital projects by embracing flexibility, fostering collaboration, and promoting adaptability amidst evolving requirements.

4. Introducing an AI chatbot

As the co-founder of Gate2AI, Nathan Clark has been involved in numerous digital projects where change management was crucial in achieving success. One example of a change initiative he wanted to share is the implementation of an AI-powered customer service chatbot for a leading e-commerce retailer’s platform.

When he and his team introduced the chatbot, they understood that change management was essential to ensure a smooth transition and adoption by both customers and internal teams.

To start, they focused on effective communication, emphasizing the benefits of the chatbot in terms of improved response times, 24/7 availability, and personalized assistance.

They conducted training sessions for customer service representatives, showcasing new business processes and how the chatbot would augment their capabilities rather than replace them.

To address areas of potential resistance, they enlisted the support of key stakeholders from various departments. Their advocacy helped build enthusiasm and fostered a collaborative environment.

Additionally, they encouraged feedback and regularly communicated the positive impact the chatbot was making on customer satisfaction metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs).

As the digital project manager overseeing this project, Nathan recognized the importance of monitoring and evaluating the project's progress. He tracked key performance indicators, such as the reduction in average handling time and the increase in customer self-service rates.

By sharing these metrics with the team, he demonstrated the tangible benefits of the change and motivated everyone involved.

5. Streamlining communications across project teams

Sometimes, change management strategies can be used to support employee engagement.

As Sumit Jain, the Founder of and author at Scoop Byte, knows well. He successfully implemented a change management strategy to streamline communication channels within his organization.

He says, “Recognizing the need for improved collaboration among remote teams, I introduced a digital project management tool that consolidated project updates, task assignments, and document sharing into a single platform.”

How did he do it? By promoting this tool's benefits and providing comprehensive training, he ensured a smooth transition for all team members.

The project resulted in increased transparency, reduced email clutter, and improved efficiency, as team members could easily track project progress and collaborate in real time.

Your Turn: Be A Change Agent In Your Organization

Implementing change can be challenging, but as we’ve seen in these five examples, with some planning, good communication, and a team that is willing to try, it’s very possible to be successful.

Whether you’re implementing new strategies, new systems, or entering new markets, the only constant in project work is going to be change. So it’s important to build an organizational culture that supports change and find a change management model that works for you.

If you want to learn more about change management, read more here about everything PMs need to know. Speaking of everything PMs need to know, you can also subscribe to The Digital Project Manager newsletter here to get insights like these delivered directly to your inbox.

By Marissa Taffer

Marissa Taffer, PMP, CSM is the founder and president of M. Taffer Consulting. In her consulting practice, she helps organizations with project management processes and tools. She also serves as a fractional project manager supporting digital agencies, marketing departments, and other consultancies.