Customer Success Multi-Cloud Transformation Consulting

10 Steps to Plan for Human Change Management

Co-Authors: Norman Dee and Mark Scott

In the world today, we are continually being reminded that the one constant in life is change. In our experience helping VMware customers implement tools that abstract, consolidate and automate technologies, we have found that often considerations on how those changes impact the population (front-line employees, stakeholders, users and customers) is an after-thought. The resulting reactive responses often require damage repair, palliative communications, and back-peddling results.

Why do we promote Human Change Management as a critical component of transformations? Simply said, it is because it ensures the success of projects. The best plans for implementing the best technologies, best SaaS and external services will fail if there is no supportive change in the organization to enable those plans, technologies and services.

This blog is part of a series on Human Change Management. In this first blog, we address how we can proactively plan to manage this impact and achieve, more efficiently, with greater ROI, the desired end state of those changes as described in the whitepaper, Organizing for the Cloud, by Kevin Lees.

In this discussion, we will present a review of the strategy behind Change Management and how to set up yourself and your organization for success. Our next blog provides details about determining the types of change and their KPIs.

What is Change Management?

Human Change Management is the application of a set of processes, tools, communications and practices used to manage the people sideof a change or transformation. It is the bridge between implementing a solution and an organization ultimately realizing the benefits associated with the change. We are juxtaposing Human Change Management here to Organizational Change Management which is more focused on the realignment of an organization with strategic business goals.

Planning for Change

Every change or transformation needs to be planned. You cannot begin implementing partial changes without creating confusion and risking internal resistance.

FIGURE 1: Planning for Change (Courtesy Mark E. Smith, Dell Technologies)

1. Define Vision, Goals, Objectives

The key first step is in defining the vision, goals and objectives of that change. This step is where you will find that you have different terminology and target definitions, even among your fellow stakeholders. Getting on the same page is essential through establishing an agreed-upon terminology, understanding common challenges, gaps, picture of the target end state, and the roadmap for achieving it. VMware Transformation Consulting’s Roadmap Services are ideal for assisting clients in achieving this end-state vision, benefits and the path for moving forward.

2. Win Hearts and Minds

Once the vision is formulated, it can build consensus among key stakeholders and management. Feedback from the stakeholders will help refine that vision and allow for stakeholders to feel ownership. The vision and high-level roadmap may require some alterations to scope and timing based on the feedback you receive.

3. Define Plan and Scope

The high-level plan and scope can now become more material in its specificity and metrics. Metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will be critical in determining the program’s success as well as in communications. These metrics and KPIs should reflect both lagging and leading predictive indicators. In other words, they should reflect on how well you have done and how much you have done to enable success. They should be planned so that data can start being collected and the current state baselined.

4. Acquire Resources

Experience has proven that large-scale changes and transformations do not succeed without a dedicated team to lead them. As we will see later, this team is made up of executive sponsors, strong project management leaders, Subject Matter Experts consisting of architects, change agents, technologists, trainers and communications team. Ideally, some of these team members are from the areas involved and are invested in the successful outcomes.

5. Establish Go-To-Market Team

One cannot emphasize the importance of the communications, internal marketing aspect of the team. They will establish, depending on the size of the effort, the messaging, branding, promotion and reporting. Their plan will be multi-faceted. It will address executives to inform them of the overall progress and high-level trends. It will address the line participants to win their hearts, continue their enthusiasm, emphasize the big picture, and assure them of their roles and opportunities in the future state.

6. Define Change Lifecycle and Governance

As change is constant, a framework for managing that change needs to be established. This step is where lifecycle management and governance are key. This framework, like service portfolio management, determines the process for intake, categorization, prioritization and funding of initiatives and alterations of the transformation.

7. Develop Change Framework

Part of this framework is maintaining the taxonomy, reference architecture, implementation, and deployment schedules.

8. Determine Financial Model

The financial metrics and KPIs established earlier need to be mapped to their sources and reported regularly. Though not all benefits are material ones, by any means, they are significant and are usually among the top expectations. Truthful, transparent reporting is key to maintaining credibility in the program.

9. Define To-Be Organizational Structure

Initial visions usually have a big picture view of the resulting organization. However, rarely are the details specified during the initial presentations. A lack of details can result in many questions and fears on the part of the employees. In this to-be organizational definition, the roles, remits, responsibilities and training plans are detailed. In doing so, the team can mitigate many fears and incorrect assumptions.

10. Design Change Management Plan

Finally, there is the big picture, communications plans, measurable benefits, and to-be roles defined. At this point, we have established a framework in which the changes are embraced, and the staff knows how they fit in and how they can prepare for doing so.

These ten steps may appear simple and straightforward. In a sense, they are. But, each requires a good deal of thought, documentation, negotiation and flexibility.


Planning for Human Change Management ensures:

  • Removing gaps in human capacity, skills, and responsibilities. Without it, there is the risk of having these gaps and failure to support the desired outcomes.
  • Lowering total cost of ownership of a project and its target service. This is through defining and tracking the expected benefits (e.g. user adoption, staff retention, gained efficiencies), metrics and KPIs that provide transparency into a project. There will be less of a return on investment without it.
  • Increasing the success of improvements and customer benefits expectations. Those improvements and benefits will be at higher risk without it.
  • Improving overall project success and stakeholder alignment. There is the risk of delivering a result not agreed upon by them.

As you have learned, human change management is a serious component of projects. It needs to be carefully planned, communicated, funded and tracked. The next blog in this series will discuss the types of changes that need to be taken into consideration for a human change program.

Mark Scott

Mark is a keen and passionate virtualization expert who excels at designing and delivering cloud-based infrastructure projects, to schedule and budget. He is visionary in his design and knowledge and ensures that details and scope are fully defined and wholly explored prior to and throughout the lifecycle of the project.


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