Change Roadmap: Managing the Comms Plan

Lionel Grealou Business, Digital, Strategy

Image Credit: Pexels

Implementing change is never easy; it requires a holistic view across business, technical and people aspects for the change in scope. A roadmap is required to inform all stakeholders about the steps and key milestones to implement the change. This roadmap must be backed-up by the required detailed delivery, deployment, data migration and transition plan – coupled with a sound communication plan to continuously grow and enhance trust with the business.

Build the Change Roadmap

Simply put, building the change roadmap starts from the business case: why is the change required, its purpose, vision and implementation timeframe, what are the expected outcomes, imperatives, boundaries, stakeholders involved, how will success be measured, what processes and / or technologies will be introduced, to deliver the outcomes, what budget is allocated to implement the change, etc.

The change roadmap will also refer to business architecture and deployment strategy which will in turn inform how the project work-packages or phases will be structured, who will be involved when, at what stage, and for what scope, what skills and resources will be required, what would be people and data related implications. Depending on the tool and technology aspects, technical dependencies will feed the change roadmap with deployment priorities and constraints, data migration and integration requirements, training implications, etc.

Manage the Change Roadmap

As the change project progresses, the change roadmap will typically evolve and mature to support successive project phases and work-streams:

  1. Initiate: build ‘big picture’ view of the change, the objectives based on pre-studies previously realised, educate about the type of change needed, the anticipated complexity, the levels of business engagement required, third parties involved and to be onboarded as to when required, the scope to be covered, the analysis required to mitigate delivery risks, assess data quality and data cleansing requirements, review ability to change of the organization, and plan how to address gaps, etc.
  2. Design-build-test cycles: develop and demonstrate use cases and process-driven storyboards, impacted functions, key users and change leads involvement, training approach and format, support and delivery capacity in place, organizational and operational changes required to ensure successful adoption and scalability of the change, dry-run production build and data migration / archive requirements, perform user acceptance testing, pilot training material, plan how the project will deploy, transition to the support and operational teams.
  3. Deploy: deliver and scale user training, execute data migration activities, validate that skill gaps have been covered, monitor business implications to minimize disruption.
  4. Support: monitor productivity changes, manage learning effectiveness and make required adjustments, initiate post-rollout support and service transition to operational teams.
  5. Iterate: repeat either steps 1-4 or 2-4 above… or even run in parallel if multiple concurrent work-streams co-exist.

Change roadmaps and plans are “living” artefacts which must be managed and maintained throughout project delivery.

Communicate About the Change

Every change roadmap links to a communication strategy and comms plan. A comms plan is critical to ensure timely business engagement, understanding of deployment implications, and delivery transparency and ultimately approval from the change board or project steering committee.

Such comms plan is mainly a business view of the roadmap; it must cover, with various levels of details, each project phases mentioned above – focusing on:

  • Project delivery governance (managing all stakeholders, including potential detractors)
  • Direction, objectives and key milestones from the change roadmap
  • Business resources requirements (executive sponsors, change leads, key users, users, organization charts, etc.)
  • Flight path to accepting the change: new process workshops, design input from the relevant SMEs, testing activities (including UAT cycles), etc.
  • Milestone events and related delivery artefacts (kick-off, mobilisation, requests for business engagement, feedback surveys, pilot activities, newsletters, branding, technical documentation, training material, Q&A, etc.)
  • Deployment approach and business implications (including potential production disruptions and mitigations, but also related organizational change and fact-driven value statements)
  • Skill and training development related activities (driven with support functions such as HR, learning and development, operations and PMO teams, procurement and commercial teams to engage third party businesses and suppliers, etc.)
  • Feedback loops to continuously adjust and overcome cultural barriers, react to business priority change, but also to demonstrate ongoing learning
  • Benefit realisation tracking (…)

COVID-19 Implications and Thoughts…

Going forward, business engagement in change initiatives will certainly require new thinking and approaches to address the need to control human interactions. This is likely to affect most points above and require updated delivery frameworks to cover:

  • How to engage differently with the business and manage stakeholders (as it might be more challenging to ‘meet up at the coffee machine’ for a chat)
  • How to select and pilot new technology solutions: cloud / hybrid cloud solutions, re-use more, reduce operations cost, in-source more core activities, fully out-source (as a service)
  • How to engage system integrators: can they sell their services differently by removing the traditional sales layer, can they operate in ‘relative isolation’ in certain periods, reduce solution package size and increase number of iterations, leverage more DevOps, engage agile ‘niche players’ with mastery in both technical and change aspects, while can demonstrate ‘simplification’ management (beyond the consulting buzzwords)
  • How to train end-users (likely to increase the focus on e-learning and remote teaching – rather than face to face classroom learning)
  • New communication formats and media are likely to emerge, such as interactive distance learning via VR and supported by both remote human trainer and perhaps supported by AI bots to cover the basics?

What are your thoughts?


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