Successful Change Management Strategies

By Maria R. Clemens, Chief Information Officer & Director of Reimbursement, Management & Network Services, L.L.C (MNS)

Maria R. Clemens, CIO & Director of Reimbursement, Management & Network Services, L.L.C (MNS)
Maria R. Clemens, CIO & Director of Reimbursement, Management & Network Services, L.L.C (MNS)
Many industries suffer from a lack of change management strategies that assist in deploying new methodologies for the health of the business. In the healthcare industry, change is nearly an inevitable daily event from small changes to much larger and complex changes. While many changes are expected and are a result of state and federal regulations, many are driven by technological changes in an effort to improve the overall quality of patient care. Over the years, there have been numerous approaches of addressing change and many evolving concepts, processes, and theories designed to assist organizations with the change efforts. Often, large scale organizational changes occur with increasingly regularity these days therefore preparing very diligently is the most effective means to success in change management. Organizations should have a defined process in dealing with change and on occasion evaluate change history within the organization to identify if the processes are causing turnover. As organizations develop standardized processes for change management, the transitions will be much less painful.
Organizations are in a constant state of change and must find innovative ways to approach change from a perspective that will achieve the organization’s overall goals along with maintaining profitability and sustained competitive advantage. Most organizational goals are derived with the profit in mind thus all plans must tie back to some financial metric. One of the newer concepts in business is ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning); many organizations spend innumerable amounts of labor hours creating an Enterprise Resource Plan only for the system to fail because of inadequate change management strategies to implement the ERP including a purposeful plan for communication. Resistance to change is a well-known barrier in change management and a barrier that must be addressed from the very beginning of the project. It is very difficult to change behaviors that have been hard wired by habit. Organizational changes require a lot of effort in the form of specific attention which often makes individuals uncomfortable. Resistance to change is a proven neurological condition that often makes one feel as though the change is a personal attack. In the beginning, an organization must have a defined mission and vision for the project and spend time living that mission and vision so the employees believe in the project, the change agents, the leaders, and the programmers; everyone must understand the end goal is the same for all stakeholders. Additionally, continuous ongoing feedback is relevant in order to identify anyone that may be resistant throughout the process, as resistance may vary depending on the specific moment and dependent on the effect of each portion of the software release.
As with any organization in any industry, a standardized plan assists the organization in communication as a change processes throughout the organization; this is especially important in large-scale organizations. Keeping in mind the values of the organization is an important concept also because when unpredictable change destroys old values before new ones are developed, this is a massive challenge to overcome. The communication factor must be thoroughly explained to those that are responsible for the change effort and those affected. An effective project plan will include a communication plan for each and every project that is to be completed for the organization. The development of a purpose wheel is a good way to keep the vision of the project in mind. Below is an image of the purpose wheel that shall serve as a guide throughout the change process.
With each technological change, an organization must follow systematic processes with a defined mission and vision and clear communication with all affected parties throughout. Once a mission and vision are established, each step of the change management situation must consider the customer map and follow the purpose wheel including effective communication.
The ideal change situation will go forward with few challenges and barriers if a process is in place. However, it is important for organizations to anticipate and evaluate barriers and challenges within the change situation and attempt to address them prior to change implementation or have a systematic process to address concerns quickly and efficiently. The topic of change management has evolved over the last several decades. It is evident that change management plays a clear role in the success of any organization. Once an organization becomes skilled at change management, there are many benefits that can be reaped such as customer, employee, and stakeholder satisfaction along with organizational growth. An organization that sets standards about change management is likely to affect the culture making the employees trust the leadership within the organization. Anytime a smooth transition can be a part of the organization’s every day goals, the more successful the organization will be. It is important to understand that satisfied employees are what makes an organization more successful thus handling changes effectively is important. It is often articulated that change acceptance is against human nature, especially if it is done in a haphazard fashion. Considering the human nature to resist change, being adept at change is extremely challenging for many organizations across multiple industries. However, with practice, processes, plans, and communication, any organization can and should master the art of change management.