Change equals opportunity – Part 2: How to manage change

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In our last blog post, we looked at the benefits of embracing change and using it as an opportunity to improve your records management program.

Unfortunately, not all change initiatives go according to plan. The failure rates can be unnervingly high with projects such as document conversions and the implementation of electronic records management systems.

To help you avoid that fate, we’ll share tips to help you successfully navigate changes in your records management program.

Getting change right.

In our experience with a wide variety of records management projects over the years, we’ve noticed several key practices that successful records managers use to manage change.

Following these 7 tips will not only help you manage risk of failure, it will ultimately drive your project to greater success after the implementation.

  1. Communicate user benefits. If front-line staff aren’t clear what’s in it for them, you’ll struggle to secure their participation in the project, both during and after the implementation. Clear statements of benefit should be shared with end users as early as possible in the process.
  2. Make friends in high places. For senior management, the big question is: “What’s in it for the organization?” To gain top-level support, it is essential to convey how the project will support the business objectives and strategic priorities identified for the organization as a whole.
  3. Do your homework: assessing change readiness. There are many reasons why the organization or department may not be ready for change. It could be due to financial or legal reasons, or it could be that the records management program itself isn’t sufficiently advanced. The key is to know what you are getting into, and to account for this in your plan.
  4. Pick your battles. It is not always a good idea to tackle the entirety of a big project in one go. It is also difficult to gain acceptance of the full project all at once. Rolling out a project in stages, or with pilot projects helps address these issues. Once you gain a few wins on a smaller scale, it becomes easier to get approval for a wider roll-out.
  5. Build a support network. To achieve widespread support across the department or organization, it helps to create a small group of project champions, such as a project committee or working group. They’ll act as advocates for the project and provide much needed help as it unfolds.
  6. Get the word out. A communications plan is vital for success. It should take into account the unique information needs of each stakeholder group and provide for regular communications through a variety of channels.
  7. Plan the change, and change the plan, as needed. A formal, written plan is another essential tool for success. At a minimum, it should include project goals and success measures, the critical path and key milestones, resource requirements, and an assessment of project risks. At the same time, records managers should be prepared to adjust the plan as needed – and more often than not adjustments will be needed!

Would you add anything to the list? What lessons have you learned when implementing changes in your records management program?

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