Creating a change management policy: why it’s important and what to include
Managing change is challenging for every organisation and its employees, especially in the fast-paced and ever-changing current business environment. Working patterns, use of technology, the services offered to customers and organisational culture are just some of the areas where there has been a shift in the past few years, and navigating through that change can take a lot of effort, at the organisational, team and individual level.
To help make any process of transition or change easier and more effective, many organisations chose to establish a formal approach to change management that can help with the adoption of new technologies and practices.
Having a policy is a good way to formalise the approach to change management. The level of formality required in the policy can vary depending on the organisation's needs. It can range from a comprehensive methodology that everyone must follow, to a set of guidelines that offer a more general direction or can be applied to different use cases. In both instances, having a change management policy can add value to your organisation.
In this article, we will explore different types of change management policies, the features that should be included in the policy, and how to disseminate the policy throughout the organisation.
What are some of the different types of change management policy?
Change management policies can vary based on the organisation's scope and focus. Some policies may cover the whole change management methodology and philosophy, while others may be more specific to managing change in certain areas to reduce risks.
More comprehensive policies will cover a broad range of change management areas, such as project management, IT change management, stakeholder management and changing user behaviour. Generally, these policies might have an overarching philosophy and set of steps, but then also provide detailed guidance on how to apply the methodology to different scenarios. This may be an integral part of an organisation's overall project methodology.
Sometimes change management policies are more specific to a certain scenario or use case and means there could be more than one within any organisation. For example, there might be a very specific policy for IT change management, which outlines the detail process that must be followed to ensure that technology changes are implemented correctly, as well as adopted.
Defining the scope of the policy
When developing a change management policy, it's essential to define the policy's scope and focus. This will help determine what needs to be included in the policy. The scope of the policy should clearly state who the policy applies to, what processes it covers, and to what extent it must be followed.
Establishing a definition of a policy provides the clarity that employees need and better positions it as an “official” document, which can then be placed in a central policy library that's easily accessible to everyone. This will also help ensure that the change management policy is visible, findable and up to date.
What should be included in a change management policy?
There is no standard set of elements to include in a change management policy and in practice policies may vary considerably from organisation to organisation, or even from function to function. However, here are some common features that are included in change management policies. .
As mentioned earlier, the scope of the policy should clearly state who the policy applies to, what processes it covers, and to what extent it must be followed.
The policy should also include information such as the version of the policy, the date it was issued, the date it was last reviewed, who is responsible for the policy, and who has reviewed the policy. This helps to ensure that everyone understands the importance of the methodology and that they are confident they are using the latest version.
Definition of change management and relative scenarios:
It's helpful to define what is meant by change management. This term can mean different things to different people and cover elements such as adoption, support, training, communications, stakeholder management, user research and more. It is also useful to explain the different use cases that the change management policy covers, such as external projects, internal projects, IT changes and technology roll-outs, product launches and more.
Steps for change management:
Most change management methodologies have defined steps that indicate the kind of change management effort required over the lifespan of a project and potentially beyond. These steps should be clearly outlined in your policy, providing an overview of what needs to be done at each stage and also the reasoning behind it.
Very often change management policies are based on a change management philosophy such as ADKAR, which is a popular five-step model that we use here at Content Formula. With ADKAR, each step relates to different stages of changing user opinion and behaviour, so there is a very logical sequence and rationale behind the different stages.
Detail of change management techniques:
The change management policy also needs to cover the detail of some of the specific change management techniques and tactics to follow, so that people can make the right change interventions and actions at the optimum time. Techniques outline in the policy could also be illustrated and supported by useful assets such as diagrams, presentations and even spreadsheets. There could also be specific techniques around areas such as budgeting, risk reduction, documenting change processes and more.
Link to valuable resources
Change management is a topic where there tend to be a lot of useful resources available, as well as expertise. Your policy might include links to valuable resources, both internal and external, that can be useful reference points. There may also be a team or experts that people can contact to ask questions or seek support.
How should I disseminate a change management policy?
The way you disseminate a policy is important and will depend on factors such as whether it is mandatory, how often it is updated and if it is just being applied to a specific group such as project managers. Generally, it should sit where all your other policies sit – ideally in an easily accessible policy library, perhaps available through your intranet. Here a policy management solution like Xoralia can help in establishing one source of truth where policies can easily be found.
A policy management solution can also help you inform employees about the policy or when there are changes. If the policy is mandatory or very important, you can use employee attestation features so that all employees or a particular targeted group have confirmed they have read and understood the policy; with Xoralia you can even ask them questions to help embed understanding of the policy.
Implementing a change management policy
Change is an inevitable part of organisational life, and it is essential that organisations are prepared to manage change effectively. Creating a change management policy ensures there is a structured and systematic process in place and will help employees and organisations navigate the ever-changing workplace.
If you’d like to see how Xoralia can support you with your change management policy, then book a demo!