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Best practices for mastering change management

Read on for best practices and techniques for mastering organizational change.

By Rachel Palad, Sr. product marketing manager

Published July 16, 2019
Last updated January 13, 2021

As a company grows in size and complexity, so does the nature of its customers’ issues. Modern enterprises need to embrace constant change as they continually evaluate and update the tools, processes, and systems it uses to solve customer problems.

Whether a company wants to augment their customer service solutions to support rapidly growing platforms like Slack for collaboration, or add Skills-Based Routing to their workflows, it’s critical that teams can move fast to add features without fear of breaking existing systems. To do this right, companies look to change management best practices.

Change management is a structured approach to organizing people, processes, and technology in order to smoothly implement change within a company. When executed properly, a methodical approach to organizational change management helps assure an efficient, seamless transition from old to new, for even the largest businesses.

Effective change management is a uniquely important discipline for large enterprises. For companies operating at scale, something as simple as a new configuration for its support software can have unintended consequences across multiple teams, functions, and geographies. It’s important for organizations to be able to quickly innovate and adopt new features and solutions, while not creating chaos in the process.

Change management best practices

With some upfront planning and the right tools in place, companies don’t need to be afraid of change. When done properly, the change process is a positive experience for companies and customers alike.

Here are a few best practices and techniques to help any organization conquer managing change:

Change management best practices

1. Ask the hard questions up-front

The first step for executing a change initiative of any scale within an organization is a clear-eyed assessment of where the company is today, where it wants to be in the future, and an agreed-upon set of goals and objectives against which to measure its progress.

Before embarking on a proposed change, the company should audit its current solution and customer experience. It’s important to understand how and why the current solution was implemented, what technical trade-offs were made, what worked well, and the challenges that are prompting the change program to begin with.

This is also the right time to assess what vendors a company is using, and for the change management team (or project team) to begin working on a plan for how to roll out changes to the organization once implemented.

Read our blog to learn how to build a change management plan.

2. Involve the right people

When it’s time to actually embark on a change management journey, it’s important for companies to understand the impact that the process will have on the people in the organization. This includes:

  • Involving the right groups early
  • Getting buy-in on the change project with key stakeholders or your change advisory board
  • Defining a clear plan for internal communication
  • Having a roadmap to onboard the organization to new workflows
  • Having a change plan that accounts for people, process, and technology
  • Figuring out who will be impacted by the change and getting the support of their team leaders
  • Focusing on employee engagement

Learn more about how to kick off a change management process in our blog.

3. Consider a sandbox

Most mid-to-large enterprises have unique set-ups and custom configurations for their internal systems. With so many variables and internal dependencies, it can be easy to wreak havoc on even the most well-oiled of machines when testing and implementing new solutions.

If you're looking for a safe, efficient way to make changes to their workflows, a sandbox environment is a powerful tool to incorporate in your change management strategy.

A sandbox is a testing environment separate from the live environment where companies can replicate part or all of their systems, including automations, metadata, and customer information. Sandboxes allow companies to experiment with changes to their system in a controlled environment before exposing changes to customers or the broader organization.

Working in a sandbox removes much of the risk of implementing changes to existing systems. Sandboxes are an ideal way to experiment and innovate, while minimizing disruptions and operational risk to the current production environment.

Sandboxes also allow companies to battletest their changes before rolling them out. Since sandboxes replicate a company’s actual live environment, they allow developers to understand everything about what will happen when the changes are pushed live.

Mastering change management

A disciplined approach is key to successful change management. It can help companies of all sizes tackle even the most complex transitions with confidence. By taking the time to align its people, processes, and technology with its business objectives, organizations can increase the adoption of new workflows and solutions, leading to happy internal stakeholders and customers alike.

Learn more about how Zendesk can help you conquer change.