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Change Management | 9 MIN READ

What is Change Management? Here's What You Should Know

Change management is a set of practices that aim to ease the implementation, reduce the risk associated with and maximize the benefits an organization can enjoy from widespread operational change.

Jump to the main takeaways:

 Defining Change Management
 Change Management & Digital Transformation
 Mastering Change Management Basics
 Change Management in Jira Service Desk

Having a lean, effective change management process in place, especially on a platform like Jira, is absolutely crucial for long-term business success. Despite its importance, change management initiatives aren’t deemed full-blown victories.

According to the Harvard Business Review, only 38% of business professionals would consider their change management initiatives completely or mostly successful, while another 2013 study puts that success margin at 54%. This lack of performance can have all sorts of negative side effects on a business, from wasted resources to decreased morale.

Increasingly rapid technological innovation means that, if your organization doesn’t have a strong change management strategy to support future digital transformation, you’ll feel a lot like Tom Hanks did when he lost Wilson. Bridging that gap is what this blog post is all about.

I’m going to go over what change management means conceptually, what that framework encompasses from a process standpoint, and dive into the basics you need to master in order to attain peak efficiency. I’ll also demonstrate how Jira Service Desk’s ITSM tools can help streamline how you implement change.

You wanna know what change management is, and you know I can show you. Let’s go!


What is Change Management? Defining the Concept

One quick Google search for a one-size-fits-all change management definition will show that the concept means many different things to many different people. To fully understand what change management really means, let's start with some definitions from various sources.

Let’s start with a strictly IT-based summary from Atlassian:

“A formal change management process aims to minimize risks (disruptions to the IT services) while making changes to critical systems and services.”

Prosci, an authority in the change management field, focus their definition around the culture aspect:

“Change management is the process, tools, and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve its required business outcomes. It is the systematic management of employee engagement and adoption when the organization changes how work will be done. Ultimately, change management focuses on how to help employees embrace, adopt and utilize a change in their day-to-day work.”

Perhaps most complete of all is the definition found on TechTarget’s website:

“Change management is a systematic approach to dealing with the transition or transformation of an organization's goals, processes or technologies. The purpose of change management is to implement strategies for effecting change, controlling change and helping people to adapt to change.”

I say “most complete” because that summary brings together both the technical and cultural aspects that are closely associated with tech-related organizational change. Successful change management isn’t just about avoiding technical debt accumulation while getting the most out of your IT resources–it also means combatting fear and resistance to change.

Wrap all those components into one and you’ve got an overarching necessity for businesses who want to consider themselves truly agile going forward. Forbes’ Brent Gleeson writes that change management competency will only continue to be put under the microscope in years to come:

“In today’s more volatile and unpredictable business environment, change management has to become part of the culture and business plan. Not just something that leaders decide they need to adopt at some point when their business model is threatened or failing.”


Change Management and Digital Transformation Success: People Before Technology

As a subsection of ITSM best practices, change management has become more important than ever before. One of the main reasons is that, regardless of industry, businesses are taking digital transformation initiatives more seriously than they have in previous years, and they need a strong grasp of change management to ensure related projects run smoothly.

When it comes to organizations investing in and committing to IT initiatives in the next few years, the stats don’t lie:

With the stakes so high for companies from a time and money point of view, it’s crucial that change management practices are introduced into the mix. However, that doesn’t mean you should be putting those technological assets before the people who will be using them.

In fact, it should be the other way around.

As Charece Newell notes in this blog post, reluctance to change within your team is likely the biggest barrier you’ll face en route to successfully implementing organizational change:

“Change is a disruption to the norm and brings fear of the unknown. This fear fosters the idea that what was once perceived as a familiar territory will no longer be the same, which is much less comfortable. The key is to manage change in such a way that your employees view this as an opportunity, not as a threat.”

This applies even if some of your company’s employees work and collaborate with one another remotely. McKinsey speaks to this on their blog:

“In increasingly global organizations, communities involved in change efforts are often physically distant from one another. Providing an outlet for colleagues to share and see all the information related to a task, including progress updates and informal commentary, can create an important ‘esprit de corps.’”

Whether you up transparency through internal dashboards and visualized reports or encourages universal buy-in through “gamification”, nurturing the human aspect of digital transformation is key. To get there, you’ll need to use lean, efficient change management practices that ensure your staff doesn’t get lost in the IT investment shuffle.

For a more detailed breakdown of how the global business community has only scraped the surface of digital transformation, check out our co-webinar with Praecipio!


Change Management Basics: Keys to Achieving Peak Efficiency

So far, I’ve covered what change management is and why it’s such a crucial part of a great ITSM strategy. The logical next question is “how,” as in how do you construct agile change management practices that will have you running at peak efficiency?

The complete answer to that question will manifest itself in different ways depending on your organization’s long-term business goals, and how they relate to IT resources and investments. That said, here are some universal basics that are important to keep in mind when tailoring the concept of change management to your specific needs:

Think Beyond Your Organization’s Status Quo

For your change management strategy to work–and for the results to have any staying power– you need to reach far beyond the current state of your business. Introduce the idea of iterative progress and don’t just wait for the stars to align someday. That will do you more harm than good.

Align Change Management With Your Business Goals

Keep in mind that change management on its own doesn’t reduce your organization's costs or increase its revenue. The only way a big commitment to change will have any tangible effect on your business is by tying those decisions to overarching business goals. Once you clarify that direction, you can purposely and practically apply those ideas in different settings.

Be Agile to Boost Your Operational Efficiency

Your change management strategy should take any ongoing development processes and timelines into account, as well as the impact they will have on your IT staff. By embedding change instructions into documentation, establishing new product and UX guidelines, and keeping feedback channels open, your organization can benefit from real-time agility.

Be Honest About Your Resources (and Optimize Accordingly)

Change management isn’t just about the new IT tools you’re investing in–it’s also about how and why you’ll be using them for specific purposes. IT resources encompass more than just hardware and software too–office environments, communication methods, and more will have a direct impact on how efficient your operations are.

Always Keep the Big Picture in Mind

An emphasis on small, iterative improvements to your organization via change management also means keeping the big picture in full view at all times. Your long-term plan should be flexible, but not so much as to render its vision unclear. Transparency when it comes to internal communication will also help make goals and reasoning clearer for team members.

For even more on how you can create the best agile change management process, check out our full blog post on the topic!


How Jira Service Desk’s ITSM Tools Empowers Change Management

Finally, we come to the platform that empowers thousands of users around the world to realize the full potential of their change management practices: Jira Service Desk.

From running your IT services more effectively to improving internal business processes and customer service management, Jira’s array of functionality can help you create and maintain lean change management practices:

Change management is often a heavy process that requires days of lead time, is usually plagued by a lack of information sharing between IT and development (especially when it’s difficult for the development team to capture changes) and the approval process is often complex, which slows down the process. The Atlassian approach to change management provides a path toward lean change management, which can meet the pace of your IT team while enforcing your change policy.”

While parts of the Jira system weren’t necessarily designed for change management applications, the platform’s software can be easily customized to suit the needs and specific initiatives that your organization prioritizes.

With that in mind, remember that Jira Service Desk doesn’t just involve monitoring your technical assets or personnel. Change management should extend to other departments, like marketing, HR and so on, and connect everyone through Jira. If that happens, you can use the platform to solidify the unifying message behind your digital transformation strategy.


As we’ve seen, change management is a crucial component of both your ITSM best practices and successfully executing a digital transformation within your organization.

Yes, there will be some resistance and obstacles on the way to the widespread adoption of new IT tools. What makes lean change management practices so indispensable is the fact that, as an action plan that your business can rally around, it will prevent those roadblocks from permanently derailing your attempts to grow, scale and optimize your operations.

Investing in and implementing the latest in IT is on the minds of many organizations as we prepare to enter the next decade of technological innovation. However, preparing for that next leap means you have to focus on the people who are part of the digital transformation as much as the tools they’ll be using.

That happens with solid change management principles and vision, confidence and conviction to see it through. If you commit to a blueprint that’s tailored to your unique business goals, especially using a customizable platform like Jira Service Desk, you’ll have everything you need to take advantage of the amazing opportunities the digital world affords us.

To discover Jira-based features that can greatly improve the practical application of your change management strategy, we recommend giving Insight a try. Click below to start your free trial today!

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Originally published Jul 24, 2019 12:00:00 PM