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Change Management Learning Center - managing change library

Start with a solid change management strategy

This tutorial provides a discussion on what constitutes a solid change management strategy. The topics covered are all addressed in Phase 1 of Prosci's change management methodology found in the hardcopy Change Management Toolkit or the online Change Management Pilot along with templates and assessments you can use right away.


Why you need a change management strategy

A "one-size-fits-all" approach is not effective for change management. Think about these changes:

  • Acquiring a company of near equal size
  • Getting suppliers to use a new web-based form and process
  • Relocating office spaces within an existing building
  • Implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning solution
  • Reorienting around processes instead of functions
  • Releasing a new product

These are all distinctly different changes, but each requires change management to be successful. Each impacts people and how they do their job. Each can suffer from slower adoption and lower utilization. Each has risks associated with people not becoming engaged or resisting the change.



Change Management Strategy elements:

  • Situational awareness - understand the change and who is impacted
  • Supporting structures - team and sponsor structures
  • Strategy analysis - risks, resistance and special tactics


While each of the initiatives needs change management to be successful, the right amount and approach for change management will be different. The change management strategy defines the approach needed to manage change given the unique situation of the project or initiative.


What goes into the change management strategy

Situational awareness:

  • Change characteristics - Begin by understanding the change that is being introduced. Changes can be formalized projects, strategic initiatives or even small adjustments to how the organization operates. Understanding the characteristics of the change requires you to answer questions like: What is the scope of the change? How many people will be impacted? Who is being impacted? Are people being impacted the same or are they experiencing the change differently? What is being changed - processes, systems, job roles, etc? What is the timeframe for the change?

  • Organizational attributes - Next, work to understand the people and groups being impacted by the change. The organizational attributes are related to the history and culture in the organization and describe the backdrop against which this particular change is being introduced. What is the perceived need for this change among employees and managers? How have past changes been managed? Is there a shared vision for the organization? How much change is going on right now?

  • Impacted groups - The final step in building the situational awareness is developing a map of who in the organization is being impacted by the change and how they are being impacted. A single change - say the deployment of a web-based expense reporting program - will impact different groups very differently. Employees that do not have expenses to report will not be impacted at all. Staff who travel once a quarter will be only slightly impacted. Associates who are on the road all the time will be more impacted, although filing expenses is only a portion of their day-to-day work. And for those in accounting who manage expense reporting, their jobs will be completely altered. Outlining the impacted groups and showing how they will be impacted enables specific and customized plans later in the change management process.


Supporting structure:

  • Team structure - The change management team structure identifies who will be doing the change management work. It outlines the relationship between the project team and the change management team. The most frequent team structures include 1) change management being a responsibility assigned to one of the project team members or 2) an external change management team supporting a project team. The key in developing the strategy is to be specific and make an informed decision when assigning the change management responsibility and resources.

  • Sponsor coalition - The sponsor coalition describes the leaders and managers that need to be on-board for the change to be successful. Starting with the primary sponsor (the person who authorized and funded the change), the sponsor model documents the leaders of the groups that are being impacted by the change. The change characteristics will determine who must be part of the coalition. Each member of the sponsor coalition has the responsibility to build support and communicate the change with their respective audiences.


Strategy analysis:

  • Risk assessment - The risk of not managing the people side of change on a particular change is related to the dimensions described in the situational awareness section. Changes that are more 'dramatic' and father reaching in the organization have a higher change management risk. Likewise, organizations and groups with histories and cultures that resist change face higher change management risk. In developing the strategy, overall risk and specific risk factors are documented.

  • Anticipated resistance - Many times, after a project is introduced and meets resistance, members of the team reflect that "they saw that reaction coming." In creating the change management strategy, identify where resistance can be expected. Are particular regions or divisions impacted differently than others? Were certain groups advocating a different solution to the same problem? Are some groups heavily invested with how things are done today? Note particular anticipated resistance points depending on how each group is related to the change.

  • Special tactics - The final step of the change management strategy is the identification of any special tactics that will be required for this particular change initiative. The special tactics formalize many of the learnings from the strategy development related to the change and how it impacts different audiences in the organization. Throughout the change implementation, special tactics may need to be revisited and updated.


What's next

Formulating the change management strategy is the first critical step in implementing a change management methodology. The strategy provides direction and results in informed decision making throughout the change process. A well-formulated strategy really brings the project or change to life, describing who and how it will impact the organization.

The change management strategy also contributes to formulation of the rest of the change management plans. For instance, the groups identified in the strategy should each be addressed specifically in the communication plan. Steps for building and maintaining the coalition identified in the strategy are part of the sponsorship roadmap. Each of the subsequent change management plans and activities are guided by the findings in the change management strategy.

Change management strategy   Change management plans
  • Situational awareness
  • Supporting structure
  • Strategy analysis

>  drives  >

  • Communication plan
  • Sponsorship roadmap
  • Coaching plan
  • Training plan
  • Resistance management plan
  • Reinforcement planning

Projects meet their objectives when they manage the human side of change effectively. A robust change management strategy sets the stage for effective change management and project success.


Prosci's change management methodology - available in the the hardcopy Change Management Toolkit or the online Change Management Pilot - provides step-by-step instruction for creating a change management strategy and all of the change management plans needed for your project's success. In the Phase 1 - Preparing for change portion you will find ready to use assessments and templates to create your strategy (listed on the right).

Phase 2 - Managing change includes templates for the communication plan, sponsorship roadmap, coaching plan, training plan and resistance management plan. Phase 3 - Reinforcing change includes checklists and templates for sustaining a change.

Purchase access to the methodology and its tools in either the hardcopy Change Management Toolkit which is a 3-ring binder plus USB driveor the online Change Management Pilot which gives you 4-click access to the process and downloadable tools from any web browser. 

  Order online - secure server 

Change management strategy templates:
  • Change characteristics worksheet
  • Change characteristics assessment
  • Impact index assessment tool
  • Organization attributes worksheet
  • Organization attributes assessment
  • Change management strategy presentation
  • Sponsor competency assessments
  • Sponsor diagram assessment
  • Team competency assessment



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Ask a Prosci analyst - find out about best practices and how you can use the checklist in your organization
Order online - secure server Order the Change Management Toolkit or Change Management Pilot for complete change management assessments, templates, guidelines and plans


Want to learn more? Become certified in change management by attending Prosci's 3-day training program in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. If you are looking for a reference guide, Prosci has several products you can use to apply a structured approach to managing change:

Email a Prosci analyst or call 970-203-9332 for more information.


Tools for applying change management:

  • Change management certification ($2800)- 3-day program where you bring a project you are working on and apply all of the assessments and tools as you learn them - taught by former Fortune 500 executives at locations across the U.S.
  • Best Practices in Change Management benchmarking report ($289) - journal-style report with lessons learned and best practices from 650 participants, presented in an easy-to-use format - reads as a checklist of what to do and what not to do
  • Change Management Toolkit ($389) - hardcopy 3-ring binder presenting Prosci's change management methodology, includes templates, checklists and assessments for managing the people side of change (includes USB drive)
  • Change Management Guide for Managers and Supervisors ($189) - tools to help supervisors engage and coach their direct reports through change (includes 4 copies of the Employee's Survival Guide)
  • Change Management Pilot ($449) - online tool including Prosci's change management methodology, eLearning modules and downloadable templates, assessments, presentations and checklists
  • Change Management Pilot Professional ($559) - the content of the Change Management Pilot plus additional benchmarking data and an online version of the Change Management Guide for Managers and Supervisors
  • Change Management: the people side of change ($18.95) - a primer for anyone involved in organizational change that addresses why manage change, individual change management and organizational change management
  • Employee's Survival Guide to Change (14.95) - a handbook to help employees survive and thrive during change, answers frequently asked questions and empowers employees to take charge of change


*** Prosci also offers leadership packages - groupings of products at discounts that offer you some of the most helpful and common combinations of Prosci change management resources


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Email a Prosci analyst or call 970-203-9332 with questions about the methodology, its application, or finding the right resources to support your change management activities.




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