Change management - Definitions and models

Change management is becoming increasingly pivotal for organizations with rapidly changing workforces, increasing demands in software developments and the need to make & ship products/services faster.

But there’s a lot of resistance and wide range of perception relating to change management in ITSM. Here we will try and breakdown the concepts relating to change management and look at various change management models adopted by companies across the globe.

What is Change Management?

Put simply, change management is a systematic way approach to dealing with changes/transformation of your organization’s processes, technologies, and overall goals. A good change management should ensure

Achieving all of these is not as easy as it seems on paper. There is a lot of strategies, plan of actions, documentation that goes into ensuring that change management process is smooth. Each of these strategies/models include a systematic way of requesting for a change as well as plans for action in the case of backlashes.

An effective change management process should consider how an adjustment/replacement will impact existing processes and employees in an organization. It’s pivotal to have a process for planning, documenting, testing and communicating the change. However, the loop doesn’t end here – Successful change managers have a rock-solid plan for scheduling and implementing changes and thorough process to evaluate the effect of the changes made.

An often ignored but a very essential part of change management is the documentation. Good documentation for change management should not only have a plan for rolling out the change but should also ensure there’s a rollback plan in case something goes down south.

Organizations that are developing a change management process from scratch face a ton of challenges. In addition to understanding the requirements of the change, it warrants a thorough understanding of what the end users are expecting and organizational culture to adopt changes. Best practice frameworks can provide you with a ‘pathway’ and help IT managers align scope with available frameworks to optimise for best results.

If you’re someone who’s starting out with change management, here’s a handy guide to get ensure you tick the major boxes-
  • Define the objective of changes and expected outcomes
  • Create a communication plan for end users
  • Identify and engage with major stakeholders
  • Create a thorough plan for testing
  • Use training and internal marketing for adoption of new change.

So, what are the kind of changes you can expect in a Service desk?

Broadly changes in an IT team can be categorised into

Major changes

Changes that are high-risk and business critical. These are things that require utmost priority and might have financial implications. For example, an existing ERP solution might terribly fail at providing the value you’re expecting and you might have to buy a new tool ASAP. How you ensure that the process of buying the software, setting up and making your end users adopt is where change management comes into play.

Standard changes

As the name suggests, these are the pretty straightforward ones that have low impact and include the pre-approved changes. These kind of changes require minimal to no end user involvement. Change management scope in these cases in restricted to how quickly and efficiently the IT team is able to deploy the changes. Upgrading OS, deploying patches are good examples of standard changes.

Minor changes

These are changes that don’t impact operations directly and are relatively easier to execute. Changes to website, improving performance of applications are some examples minor changes. These are changes that don’t happen frequently but undergoes every stage of change management lifecycle.

Emergency changes

These are changes that are ad-hoc and requires the IT team to deploy changes in a dynamic way. The approvals can be managed through Emergency Change Management Board (ECAB). However, it’s important to document these changes for future references and context.

Change management models

Having established what is change management and why it is important, it’s time now to see how you go about the process. If you’re someone who knows the pros of having a robust change management process in place, but finding it difficult to implement in everyday work, here’s some help to execute large scale change management.

But like all frameworks, knowing the models and best practices is just one part of solving the bigger puzzle. Success really boils down to how you manage expectations and adapt these solutions to your organizational challenges.

In the following section, we’ve tried to deconstruct two change management models, that we have borrowed from the business world.

Lewin’s change management model

The change management model developed by Kurt Lewin consists of 3 stages of implementing or making changes. The three stages of Lewin’s change model include:

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All existing processes and do a deep dive of what works and what doesn’t.


Deploy changes once you’ve identified them and keep looking for feedback


After iterations and corrections, refreeze the changes for optimised operations

ADKAR Model of change management

Lewin’s change management model is very useful to implement when

However, Lewin’s model is not scalable because it requires a lot of time to implement. Though it doesn’t matter if the magnitude of change isn’t big, it requires you to have a rigorous analysis – failing which, the model falls flat.

ADKAR change management model puts the emphasis on employees and people behind the change. Created by Jeff Hiatt (Founder of Prosci), this change management model is very less sequential in nature and focuses/breaks down the changes into goal(s) to be achieved.

Focussing on achieving the following 5 goals, this change management model can be used to plan out your changes in IT effectively.

This change management model can be applied to your IT operations when your team is implementing small incremental changes that are not disruptive. The added focus on employees and their needs rather than the technical aspects ensures higher adoption for the new processes/actions by your IT team. If you’re planning an organization wide change or a global change, you might NOT want to go for an ADKAR model as most of the macro elements are either taken for granted or not accounted for in this change model.

Do I have any advantage if I follow change management?

Obviously yes! Apart from giving you a structured way of going about implementing major changes, there’s lot of advantages to following change management process. Broadly, all the advantages could be encompassed into the following,


An effective change management process enables your organization to stay within budget (and schedule), and in turn higher ROI.

Alignment and adaptability

A systematic way of implementing changes ensures alignment of existing resources in your organization. It also equips your organization to be in forefront of ‘best practices’ leading to increased employee happiness and productivity.

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