What Is IT Change Management? (With Definition and Steps)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 27, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Information technology (IT) changes can have a significant impact on the way organizations operate. As technological developments can often be rapid, changes to IT systems can require organizations to adapt quickly without the opportunity for testing. Learning to implement a system to facilitate IT changes can help you mitigate the challenges and disruptions that might come with a large-scale organizational transformation. In this article, we answer the question "What is IT change management?", discuss what change managers do, explain why it's important, list different types of IT changes, and outline six change management strategies.

What is IT change management?

If you're responsible for managing change in an organization, you might be wondering "What is IT change management?" Change management is a term for systems that help prepare, support, and assist teams and employees when organizational changes occur. It includes methodology for redirecting resources, changing business processes, reallocating budgets, and implementing any other adjustments that significantly impact the daily operations of an organization. The various types of organizational change include:

  • Developmental change: Organizations implement this type of change to optimize and improve on processes, strategies, and procedures.

  • Transitional change: This type of change involves transitioning a company from one state to another through an acquisition or merger. Typically, companies opt for transitional change to solve business problems.

  • Transformational change: This type of change transforms a company through alterations to its culture, core values, and operations.

Within IT departments, these changes can include the implementation of new applications or services that take advantage of workflow automation, machine learning algorithms, and analytics to adapt to rapid changes in IT.

Related: 40 Change Management Quotes to Inspire the Entire Team

What do change managers do?

Change management is an essential organizational process, particularly when it comes to processes that involve implementing new IT products and services. The change management process may vary between organizations, depending on their goals and the desired outcomes of each change. Change managers are responsible for managing, guiding, documenting, communicating, and implementing strategies to assist employees, executives, and other stakeholders with adapting to the changes. They also help resolve any tension that arises by acting as liaisons and champions for these shifts. Situations in which a change manager might be involved include:

  • Mergers and acquisitions

  • Anytime there's an organizational crisis that requires a change

  • Introduction of new technology, processes, or strategies

  • Instances when there's a significant shift in leadership

  • Instances when there are important changes to the company's culture or core values

Why is change management important?

Change management is vital to increasing the likelihood that a company or organization succeeds after undergoing changes. Change management is also important because it creates clear, outlined plans for introducing, implementing, and revising changes while explaining how to adapt to them. The change management process is a key part of identifying any challenges or issues that may arise during an organizational shift, giving everyone the tools to address them if they arise.

In the IT industry, change management is especially important due to the rapidity of evolving technology. Due to the speed of IT development, organizations have little time for long evaluation and testing cycles. Businesses move quickly to keep up to date with trends such as cloud computing, mobility, virtualization, and remote work, but it's important that they make wise and beneficial decisions. IT change management seeks to balance these two opposing sides.

Related: Change Manager vs. Project Manager: With Definition and Tips

What are the types of IT changes?

There are three primary types of changes in IT. These include:

Emergency changes

This type of change requires immediate attention. It might occur if a piece of equipment suffers a significant failure. Emergency changes prioritize and expedite planning and assessment. Management strategies involve troubleshooting and analysis, using whatever resources may already exist to assist. The priority of this change is to rectify the failure before it becomes detrimental to overall operations.

Normal changes

A normal change is a significant change that often requires change managers to plan and perform a risk assessment. This type of change might include activities like undertaking a digital transformation or integrating a newly acquired IT system. It might also include working with third-party services, such as cloud storage systems.

Standard changes

These are low-risk, routine changes that are part of the normal technology lifecycle. These types of changes are the most common in organizations. Most employees are familiar with these types of changes and their implementation typically has little resistance.

Related: A Guide on Choosing a Change Management Certification

6 IT change management strategies

An effective change management strategy can help organizations make digital transformations quickly and efficiently. Below are six strategies to consider when implementing IT changes:

1. Communicate with employees and other stakeholders

As changes can be confusing and disruptive, proper communication between employees, management, and other stakeholders is important to their success. Effective communication helps ensure everyone understands what the organization expects from them. Before making changes, give employees the opportunity to ask questions, state their opinions, and offer feedback. Management can also create a formal channel of communication so employees can express any concerns and share their ideas on how to best implement the proposed changes.

2. Begin the change at the executive level

Those in leadership positions at a company can take active roles during periods of change to help encourage employees to embrace the new processes. This can help reduce the potential for anxiety that might result from fundamental changes. In the case of adopting new technology, company executives can be the first to use the technology to demonstrate their faith and comfort with it. This can create a positive work environment and help employees feel more confident about the new system.

Related: Change Phases: How to Prepare a Team for Change in 4 Steps

3. Ensure that the change is necessary

While certain technologies can make organizations more efficient, it's important that you have a good reason for making changes. Conduct a thorough internal audit to help ensure the proposed changes can improve the system or working environment for the team. This way, you can more easily overcome any objections that arise by demonstrating how the new technology can help enhance the workplace. It's also important to consider how the changes may affect all departments and employees.

4. Reduce potential disruptions

Changes can lead to significant disruptions, so it's important to design a strategy that minimizes or eliminates as many of these disruptions as possible. Many technology options intended to make processes more efficient can also cause concern with employees. For example, automating a certain process may make the team who used to perform this duty feel obsolete. To minimize these challenges, communicate with the team about the changes and prepare them with resources and training to help them adapt.

5. Set goals for the transformation

It's important to set goals for any changes to assess their progress. You can use SMART goals to evaluate the progress during the implementation of a digital change. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. They can also help organizations assess whether the new initiative is successful. You might also want to establish key performance indicators to track performance and demonstrate how successful a change was.

Related: Project Communication Management (Definition and Steps)

6. Establish a cross-functional digital transformation team

Having a team that specializes in digital transformations can help makes changes easier by communicating with and preparing multiple departments. These transformation teams benefit from having representatives from each department so they can offer their unique perspectives. They work together to ensure they prepare their departments with the right tools and resources. To establish an effective digital transformation team, you can first identify people who have experience with past changes. It may also be useful to include someone from the IT department, as they're often involved with the changes.

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