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12 Change Management Tips to Make Your Next Project a Success


Change can be hard - even when things are changing for the better. And workplace change can be an especially thorny source of worry for anyone affected.

Therefore, when it comes to technical transformation projects, project managers can face an uphill battle in getting company-wide “buy-in” and herding everyone in the right direction.

But the project manager’s task is simply to keep a technical project on track. However, the key to successful adoption is effective change management.

We sat down with our Change & Transformation Director, Cat Halstead, to uncover 12 essential change management steps to help make your next transformational project a success.

Always Prepare Beforehand

Change can be quite exciting. It sometimes makes tantalising, aspirational promises that we can’t wait to see manifest in the real world. However, plunging into a transformational project with no preparation can actually set you up for failure – or at least a messy landing.

With any technical change project, you will naturally have firm technical goals and aims you will want to hit. However, our change management experts advise a number of “softer” preliminary measures too. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Identify and document the strategic business benefits and drawbacks of the change.
  • Establish what success means to you in terms of culture and behaviour relating to this change.
  • Complete a change/business readiness assessment to ensure the organisation is ready to take on this change and see it through to completion.

Conduct a Full Impact Analysis

Before embarking on any kind of transformation, you need to conduct an exhaustive impact analysis. This is an exercise where you seek to uncover all potential consequences that might occur as a result of the project at hand - both positive and negative.

For example, a technical change project might completely rewrite how certain departments work, may upend workflows in far-flung departments, might impact customer experience, and might have knock-on effects for existing tech stacks elsewhere in the business. There will naturally be positives and negatives in all of these elements of change.

It might sound like a daunting task, but when you know what your potential stumbling blocks are, you can put contingency plans in place for each possibility.

Create a Clear Vision and a Strong Business Case

Now you have a clear idea of what your project is going to affect and involve, it’s time to get people on board.

Create an aspirational vision around what you hope to achieve with this change project, and demonstrate how it will benefit teams, workflows, and the organisation as a whole. Use this vision as an anchoring statement when you communicate the change to your teams.

But don’t present your vision as too fluffy or vague. Resistance to change often comes from a fear of the unknown, so be up front about what change is happening, why it’s happening, and its impacts. So, keep it as positive as possible whilst subtly reassuring those who may be concerned by the prospect of change.

Communicate the Change Project to All Affected

Armed with your vision and business case, it’s time to share it with any affected teams. This is your chance to evidence what your change will look like, what it will feel like, what it will achieve, and how it will leave the organisation better off.

Be prepared for a few queries, and even a little pushback. Your impact analysis may have flagged a few likely concerns so you can effectively open a dialogue with those who have misgivings about the change.

And don’t just take one “party line” with everyone about the change. Each team may require a tailored approach to allay specific fears and concerns.

Establish a Champion for the Change

We all know how hollow it feels when we’re told to “do as I say, not as I do” by leadership. The same is true when significant change is being expected of a company’s employees, but leadership seem to exempt themselves from the process.

Therefore, it is incredibly valuable for leadership to be visibly bought into the change. If possible, have at least one well-respected senior team member champion your change programme and encourage buy-in throughout the organisation. In change management terms, this is called “role modelling”.

Cat Halstead, our Change & Transformation Director, puts it perfectly:

“It's important that leaders demonstrate the benefits of any change through their behaviours, the way they talk about transformation, the stories they tell, and the metaphors they use. This is how we start to embed change into the culture of an organisation.”

Aside from behavioural role modelling, it’s vital for a project to have vocal advocates from a financial perspective amongst leadership too.

Know That Project Managers Are Not Change Managers

Though these two titles often get mentioned in the same breath, or even confused for each other, they represent two very different disciplines.

Project managers (PMs) are largely there to oversee the technical or operational part of a change project; making sure that goals are met, work is actioned, quality objectives are fulfilled, and that the finished project is delivered on time and on budget.

However, the change management function is there to help to embed change culturally, behaviourally, and strategically. The change manager’s focus is to communicate change effectively; engage and support individuals impacted by the change; encourage employee adoption and behaviour change; and generally facilitate the human element of the change process.

Despite these two disciplines being very different, project managers are often called upon to fulfil both roles!

Understand that Personalities Play a Large Part in a Project’s Success

It’s easy to simply consider the nuts and bolts of a technical project – the tech, the goals, the time, costs, and quality of that project delivery.

However, change can be a scary and unexpected matter for all affected. It requires a personal, understanding approach - hence why it’s so important to incorporate the more interpersonal work of a change manager into any change project.

Expect Resistance – Even Part Way Through the Project

Even with the most thorough impact preparedness measures in the world, you may still butt heads with some individuals – at any time throughout the transformation process.

There are myriad reasons why people might become resistant to change – after all, people are rarely belligerent just for the sake of it.

The objector may feel their professional expertise and status is being sidelined. They might feel like the change has been “sprung upon” them. They may worry that they don’t have autonomy or control over the situation. Or there could simply be too much change going on in their own personal lives.

Resistance doesn’t come from nowhere, and it’s one of the reasons why an exhaustive impact/stakeholder analysis, good lines of communication, and an understanding approach are all key.

Don’t Dismiss Resistance to Change – Use It!

When you do experience resistance to a transformation project, don’t dismiss those individuals or their concerns – proactively engage with them.

Seek to open a frank conversation with anyone who has concerns about the change, aim to soothe their fears, and demonstrate the benefits to them if possible.

If they bring up valid, productive concerns, they may be a useful person to bring into the change team. Not only do you get to work with them in a productive way that uses their knowledge and gives them agency; but bringing your biggest resistors on to your change team sends a powerful message that this change is truly for the best!

Deal With Any Fallout from Previous Change

One reason why some teams can appear resistant to change (or they may not be embedding this change as quickly as you’d like) is that they might still be coming to terms with change from a previous transformational project.

For example, if a team is still desperately trying to embed a change from a year or so ago, putting more change on their plate might justifiably raise resistance, doubt, and bewilderment.

In cases like this, it’s essential to put mitigating factors in place to help these teams catch up, beat the lag, and prepare for the new changes ahead.

Mark Milestones and Celebrate Successes!

Sometimes we can get so distracted by “getting the project done” that we don’t stop to reflect on, and show gratitude for, the hard work that goes into making a project a success.

Don’t let important incremental goals pass by unacknowledged, especially if your internal teams worked hard to make them happen. Not only can formal or informal recognition boost productivity, but it can actually help individuals feel more positive about the change at hand.

LinkedIn has collated some excellent advice on how to reward change management success.

A Change Project Isn’t Over When It’s “Over.”

So, your project is starting to wrap up. You’re training your teams to adapt workflows to the new systems. Everything is starting to look like “business as usual.” Does this mean the change manager and project manager’s work is done? Absolutely not!

The change manager still has to ensure that the new systems and workflows are supported, sustained, and kept up to date.

Do you know how frequently the new systems are going to be updated? How are those updates going to be rolled out? Are users becoming “unconsciously competent” in the new systems (i.e., they don’t have to refer to “how to” guides in order to carry out simple tasks)? Are the new systems embedding seamlessly into the way you work? Have you hit all of the technical and behavioural goals you aimed for?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then there is more work to be done! And besides, in order to stay competitive, continual improvement and iteration is key.

Provide the Skills to Deliver Successful Change


Equip your product team with the skills they need to deliver and embed positive change with Crimson’s Changemaker Toolbox programme.


Working with a certified change management practitioner over a training session and two workshops, your team will gain an overview of best practice change management techniques and implementation guidance.


These interactive sessions analyse your organisation's readiness for change and its ability to turn technical change into business-as-usual operations. You will also receive support in creating a high-level change plan focused on your people.


Book a free discovery call today to learn more about Crimson's Changemaker Toolbox.