Mobile and flexible working ways are delivering unfathomable benefits for businesses across the globe. With the persistent shift to the cloud, the way enterprises and people are working is changing rapidly – and so are their expectations. The rate of technology-driven change shows no signs of slowing down. Organizations thus need change management practices to cater to and counter the ever-changing business environment.

Change management is a way of ensuring that IT operations are moved from existing practices to an optimized state, systematically and seamlessly.

What is change management?

Change management is a structured process that ensures that all the required changes – be it simple process changes or major strategic changes - are carried out smoothly, realizing the long-term benefits of the said change.

The different levels of change management

Change management is a structured process that ensures that all the required changes – be it simple process changes or major strategic changes - are carried out smoothly, realizing the long-term benefits of the said change.

Individual change management

People form the core of every change management effort. Individual change management requires an understanding of what enables people to change and how they experience the change.

Organizational change management

It is often not realistic for a project team to manage change on an individual basis. Organizational change management supports projects by charting customized plans, training, steps and actions to be taken that impact the many individuals in a project.
While project management ensures the design, development, and delivery of project solutions, organizational change management ensures that the project solution is effectively adopted.

Enterprise change management

When change management becomes a vital part of its structures, leadership, roles, processes, and projects, it becomes enterprise change management. This enables organizations to adopt new technology quickly and respond to market changes faster, minimally impacting productivity.

Why is change management important?

Change management process is essentially a cycle. Broadly, the four phases of the change management process are:

What is agile change management?

In recent years, Agile has been incorporated beyond software development - into project management, product management, decision making, and now change management. The iterative nature of agile delivery calls for more flexible tactics to manage changes at the organizational level. Agile is commonly misconstrued to allow for lesser control of delivery. In fact, the opposite is true; agile provides more transparency and visibility of the project progress and greater cross-functional collaboration than traditional approaches. Agile change management provides practitioners with a flexible and iterative approach to achieve sustainable change.

More and more businesses today are finding feet in agile methods and principles in the way they function. However, most change management practices have grown out of linear ways of working, unlike agile.
 
Linear methods work well in traditional organizations that work in sequential ways - like first, understanding the purpose of change, then map key stakeholders, then develop communication plans, and so on. However, agile change management is anything but linear. In an agile environment, a business is barely out of the first or second step change management, but the first agile sprint is over, and is already put into production to see the results of the minimal work product. In such environments, traditional change management will either be too slow or, too complicated, or for the pace at which the business functions. This is where agile change management helps; real-time, fit-for-purpose approaches that align well with an agile way of doing business. Agile change management makes way for a collaborative approach to change that enables change practitioners to adapt to changing priorities and quickly focus efforts on areas that will be most impacted.

 

Change management in an agile organization

Traditional change management frameworks are long-running, and deal with big batches of change. When organizations successfully transform to Agile, they need Aagile change management models that make them as Agile as their newly adopted Agile frameworks. This enables organizations to successfully manage the constant flow of valued changes that they introduce into their business ecosystem. 

Implementing organizational change in real-time

Agile principles strongly emphasize on getting things done in real-time: fast, and face to face. Change leaders have to bring in change processes and Aagile change management that takes place in the moment, where those involved in the sprints are doing the change management as they are working, so that it becomes part and parcel of the work itself.

Embracing a fit-for-purpose attitude

 “Fit for purpose” is inherent to Agile, and means that a solution is not bloated with inefficient features or functionalities. Agile change management is the application of fit-for-purpose concepts to change management, where surveys, analyses, spreadsheets, and project plans no longer need to be constantly looked through. 
To quote an instance, if there is not enough time at hand to create a full communications plan, agile change management helps determine the minimal essential messages that need to reach the most important stakeholders identified, before the solution is rolled out.

Adapting prevailing platforms

Because agile work happens on the fly, it is not always likely to foresee how things will unfold, or determine what will be needed for completion. Agile change management teams step in to sustain awareness of prevailing structures and platforms that can be leveraged for agile resolutions.
To quote an instance, social media is a platform where people can meet and share information, publicly or privately. Regardless of type, to get a message out about a change process quickly, agile change management is about leveraging existing platforms to communicate without incurring undue delay. If there has to be communication sent out to the staff within an organization, agile change management is also about social and physical structures, too, that can be adapted to agile use. A quick gathering of staff in the office cafeteria/lounge space to physically communicate the change is also agile change management. Although a myriad of things—such as videos or posters—can accomplish the goal of communicating the message, utilizing a platform that already exists, can be very successful.

Managing change in an agile organization requires a more fluid approach. Agile change management is all about being proactive about thinking through impending resources, prospects and/or obstacles.

Common obstacles when bringing change management to an agile project

Change management is just another kind of project management. It is all about managing the implementation and execution of available features into the organizational environment. Welcoming agile change management, becoming comfortable with ambiguity and relentless customer focus can be challenging for organizational cultures where a Waterfall delivery model is deeply ingrainedengrained.

Conflicts between agile delivery approaches and change management arise because organizations fail to realize that change management must grow into agile too. Delivery and implementation activities cannot be in conflict and need to be balanced, so that they are set in a rhythmic pattern.  The benefits of agile delivery can only be realized when traditional change management becomes agile change management through a corresponding application cadence.  
Here are five common obstacles that organizations face, while bringing change management into an agile project:

Coaching and mentoring to bring agile change management can be difficult, because along with technical issues comes the mindset of people already accustomed to traditional change management. Knowledge management is another issue in agile methods. While in plan-driven methods, heavy documentation and rigid reports are required, in agile change management, knowledge is many times tacit and in the head of the stakeholders.
 
Efficiently managing the transition TO Agile and the actual application of change management IN Agile is one of the top obstacles seen in many organizations, while implementing agile change management. The most important obstacles faced when applying agile change management were often indications of ineffective support and approval for agile methodologies in the first place.

What does this imply?

Agile is persistently growing as a new way to tackle practices by breaking them down into segments that are iterative. The application of agile change management is extending well past software and IT projects to include non-IT projects as well. Within a project using Agile, change management can upkeep the implementation and usage required for to achieve actual results; but the pace and nature of an agile effort meanmeans that change management must change too. Accuracy, competence, focus, timely trade-offs, early engagement, balance – all of it must be present for change management to be effective on a project that uses iterative development.
Agile change management is a project management methodology that works by simplifying changes, just like projects, into iterative cycles. At its core, agile change management is based on the assumption that circumstances change as a project progresses.  In agile change management, the planning, design, development, and testing cycles continue to change as the project takes form.

As with other project management disciplines, agile change management is about getting business functions accomplished, and manage business changes inon a timely, and cost effective manner, without compromising on quality. 

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