What it is and Ways to Streamline the Change Management Process Flow

change management process

Key takeaways

  • Change management is the structured approach that an organization uses to communicate and implement change to manage people, processes, and resources better. 
  • Effective change management should have strategic goals, KPIs, project key stakeholders, and team and project scope.
  • Change management can be challenging and creates disruptions as people will have emotional investments in their routine work. 
  • It is essential to define the objective, explain to your employees the benefits of implementing the new changes, define the milestones, implement in small amounts, and continuously monitor the progress.

Table of Contents

As change is the only constant thing, the change management process is of great importance to ensure that employees are equipped with the entirety of the transitions. Several factors contribute to organizational changes – adapting to new leadership, mergers and acquisitions, and new technology. These changes are significant for organizations to stay competitive in the rapid digital transformation which makes them implement the latest products and technologies.

What is the Change Management Process?

Change management is a powerful and far-reaching organization-wide initiative that helps organizations evolve. A Harvard Business Review revealed that 85% of senior executives in an organization noted an explosive increase in organizational change projects over the past 5 years (the study was conducted in 2023).

Change management is the process of guiding organizational change throughout the change cycle. Starting with the planning phase, through the implementation phase, until solidifying changes in an organization.

The change management process flow includes all the methods adopted by the organization to handle modifications, such as the implementation of new technology, adjustments to existing processes, and shifting organizational hierarchy. The steps in the change management workflow will vary depending on the change that is being implemented.

Types of Organizational Change

A well-laid-out change management plan helps organizations make smoother transitions during times of change. Organizational change refers to any change in company culture, internal processes, infrastructure, or technology underlying the processes, corporate hierarchy, or any other critical aspect of the organization. Organizational change is broadly classified into adaptive and transformational change. 

Adaptive changes are small, iterative, and gradual changes that the organization undertakes to evolve its products, processes, workflows, and strategies to align with changing customer and market demands. Some examples include hiring a new team member to address increased demand and implementing a new work-from-home policy to attract more qualified job applications. 

Transformational changes on the other hand are larger in scale and their scope often signifies a dramatic and occasionally sudden departure from the status quo. Some examples include launching a new product or business division or deciding to expand internationally. 

Another type of organizational change is individual change management, which helps individuals manage change to help them grow in their roles and/or achieve specific goals. 

The change management process guides the organization through organizational change to fruition, from the early stages of conception through implementation, and finally to resolution. The leadership must have a clear understanding of the change management process flow so that they can navigate through change effectively. When both leadership and the team are prepared for the change, the implementation of change is more effective and smooth. 

Key Elements of Change Management include the following –

Strategic goals

What goals does this change help the organization work towards? Identifying the strategic goals is the first and the most important step in change management. 

Key performance indicators

How will the success be measured? The metrics that need to be moved and the baseline for how things currently stand need to be established clearly. 

Project key stakeholders and team

The decision on who will be incharge of overseeing the change, who will be signing off at each critical stage, and who will be incharge of the implementation, needs to be taken before the changes are implemented. 

Project scope

What are the discrete steps and actions the change project includes? What is included in the project scope and what isn’t must be decided in the change management plan. 

It is important to have a structured approach toward change management, the plan should also include exception-handling measures. A strong change management process equips organizations to –

  • Prepare for the transition to a new change
  • Gain organizational support for whatever the change is 
  • Deploy the change successfully over

Change management frameworks often include strategies that help organizations introduce change, and think about how the change will impact members of the organization at different levels and on different teams. Change management can be considered both as a process and a methodology. Change management as a process enables practitioners within the organization to leverage and scale the change management activities that help impacted individuals and groups through their transitions.

Need for Change Management in Your Organization

The main intent of change management is to establish standard procedures for managing change requests in an agile and efficient manner. Standardization of these procedures drastically minimizes the risk and impacts business operations. Why do you need a change management process? A good change management process ensures the following in your organization –

  • Prevention of accidents
  • Evaluation of alternatives
  • Increase in asset reliability
  • Traceability of changes

Building a change management plan helps organizations make smoother transitions during times of change. Without a plan for implementing the change, you are setting up for failure. Regardless of the type of change you want to implement, change management gives you more control over the entire process. A survey by the Human Capital Institute reveals that a vast majority of organizations (85%) reported an unsuccessful change initiative in the last 2 years. A Forbes study revealed that 85% of companies fail at digital transformation.  

Starting with the planning phase, through the implementation phase, until solidifying changes in an organization.
Change management is a powerful and far-reaching organization-wide initiative that helps organizations evolve. A Harvard Business Review revealed that 85% of senior executives in an organization noted an explosive increase in organizational change projects over the past 5 years (the study was conducted in 2023)

How to make change management work?

Effective change management increases the likelihood of success within the organization. It brings standardization and orderliness in managing the change and implementing the changes uniformly. Projects with robust change management processes are 7 times more likely to meet objectives than those with poor change management. A change management system makes sure that the change happens smoothly and that the key performance indicators are monitored at all times. 

A shift from the norm sometimes evokes unfavorable reactions from people. The majority of the employees would rather do things the way they have always done than try out a new way due to the fear of the unknown. The leadership is tasked with the responsibility of helping employees overcome this fear and embrace change. A successful change management process makes sure that everyone is on the same page concerning changes. A good change management process helps communicate the “why” part of the change to all employees.

Decoding Change Management Terminology

As a discipline, change management includes change management models, processes, and plans. All of these together help mitigate the risk involved in the change and produce better outcomes. Effective implementation of change management requires clarity in the meaning and scope of these terminologies. 

Change management models – These models have been developed based on research and experience in managing change. The main aim of these models is to help manage change within an organization or in your personal life. Most of these models provide a supporting framework that can apply to your organizational or personal growth. 

Change management processes – All the steps or activities that move a change from inception to delivery. 

Change management plans – These plans are developed to support a project for delivering change. Change management plans are created during the planning stage of the change management process. 

10 Steps for Effective Change Management

As far as change management is concerned, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The type and scale of change varies in every organization, but core principles of change management remain the same. The following steps are followed in the change management process – 

1. Define the objective

Since most change occurs to improve processes, products, or outcomes, it is important to focus on and clarify the end objectives. The first step in change management is to define what you want to achieve by the change. A clear objective can be achieved only with an understanding of where your organization currently lies and where you want it to be. Your change management process won’t work if your objective contradicts your company’s vision. Organizations may evolve but aligning with the vision and mission at all times will help retain your identity and originality. 

2. Get the buy-in from management

The management in any organization plays a critical role in change management. Individual projects or employees alone cannot drive the change management process. Even with all the knowledge and technical know-how, it is difficult to drive the project all by yourself without support from management. You can first present the issues and propose changes to tackle the issue to the management. This way, you can make change management about the organization rather than yourself. 

3. Appoint change management stakeholders

Change management requires support from the entire organization, but there are a few key players needed to drive the change. These stakeholders would lead change management in different areas. They can be regarded as managers for the change management initiative and they will help you coordinate activities at the micro-level. Having heart-to-heart conversations with those incharge of change management improves the success rate of process/project change. These managers are in charge of change management approval at every stage of the process. 

4. Bring the team to the same page

Once key stakeholders have been identified, the next step is to get everyone in your organization on the same page. Mandating everyone to buy into the change plan simply because you are the boss is not the best approach. Best results from change management can be achieved when the entire team is sold on the idea because they share your vision. Sharing your vision passionately and being open to contributions from team members drives a healthy culture around change management. 

5. Eliminate the roadblocks

Once the entire team is on board the change management, you need to eliminate other roadblocks that might not let your team function optimally. Some of the possibilities to consider –

  • What old procedures or systems need to make way for new ones?
  • Do you need to acquire new tools to implement the change?
  • Do your team members require any special training to perform in the new system?
  • Do you need to reassign roles and responsibilities within the team?

6. Break the end goal into milestones

When the change objective is big, it may seem like a daunting task to achieve it. It is better to break it into milestones, which make the end goal seem achievable. The overall confidence level improves when you achieve these milestones, and you are motivated to achieve the end goal. The team gets a deep sense of accomplishment as they achieve these milestones. Accountability also improves by setting milestones. 

7. Reward early wins

Employees get pumped up with early wins. When early wins are rewarded, employees are encouraged to work harder, seeing that their efforts are paying off. The flip side of early wins is when their early wins look like a waste of time. Be clear about early wins by setting targets that are more achievable than others. Engage with team members who play important roles in achieving these wins. 

8. Acknowledge the loss

Moving into something new mostly involves the loss of something old. Old processes will have to make way for new changes. It also means letting go of the emotional attachment to familiar ways of working. 

9. Track your progress

Change management involves a great deal of planning, and coordinating. Controlling, and evaluating. All these factors have to work in unison to achieve the objective of change management. You need to regularly track how things are unfolding. Time taken to achieve milestones, what are the causes of delays, what are the roadblocks in achieving objectives – these are some of the factors that need to be tracked in change management. 

10. Improve continuously

Change is a continuous process, so you need to continuously review current business processes for improvement. Continuous review helps identify roadblocks that may arise from the implementation of change. 

An effective change management approval process can be highly effective in implementing change management measures.

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Challenges in Change Management

Change management, like any other business process, involves some unique challenges. Sometimes, change management can be very hard for the leadership, especially when they are new to the organization. From evolving approaches to the need for continual adjustment and improvement, change management can be difficult at times. 

Due to ever-changing consumer expectations and global competition, the concept of organizational change itself is constantly changing. The most challenging part of change management is the human element. It is difficult to navigate through the human elements during change management as they are not inherently disposed to adjustment. 

Employees are especially apt to resist changes that they see as based on a leader’s ego, a whim, or a fad. Resistance among employees to change is almost immediately obvious. They sometimes see new change plans as short-term problems that will blow over if they wait long enough. In some cases, they may verbally cooperate with the change but never quite get around to making the change. 

In situations where you are dealing with a history of unsuccessful changes, it is important to acknowledge the past approach the new normal with a change management process, and address employee resistance. 

Particularly when an organization is trying to make cultural changes, the challenges along the path are many. Not everyone on the team will get on board. A leader has to be prepared to say goodbye to people who won’t adapt to change. 

Change management can be tedious, especially when you do not have the right tools to execute the change. When you are beginning the change management process, it is important to bear the following points in mind – 

1. You cannot please everyone

Not everyone in the organization is going to like the change. But that is OK. Rather than focusing on who is going to oppose the change, you should spend time on who is going to favor the change. 

2. Change takes time

Implementing the change doesn’t happen overnight. Leaders need to talk about the change repeatedly to get a buy-in from the team. Making changes takes cognitive effort, and we are more likely to engage in that effort when we understand the benefits of that change. 

3. Visibility is critical

Most people will follow what everyone else is doing. According to researchers, 80% are going to be fence-sitters, they don’t care one way or the other. Knowledge of what others are doing in the project is important for employees. 

4. Leadership comes from the top

When leaders at the top are not managing change well, the entire project is affected. If employees think it is a rule, but the management does not follow it, they will resist the change. 

The most effective way to support change in your organization is to bear in mind that it is a team effort, and then develop processes that help achieve the buy-in you need.

Choosing the right Change Management Tool

Implementing change management successfully requires a change management tool that is suited to their organizational requirements. What are the must-have features of the change management tool? 

Process mapping and timelines

The change management tool should provide process mapping features along with project timeline visualization. This provides a comprehensive overview of the steps, tasks, and phases of a change initiative. This allows managers to allocate resources at all times through the change management cycle. In addition to creating clarity around the project, this helps in alignment throughout the team. 

User-friendly Dashboard

The change management software must provide a comprehensive and easy-to-use dashboard that is needed to –

    • Keep app team members appraised of the progress and other events
    • Provide critical, context-based info to stakeholders when needed
    • Monitor team performance and make real-time adjustments as needed

The software’s dashboard must allow users to quickly find or do whatever they need as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Role and access control

Clarity in roles and responsibilities for implementing change management is extremely important. The change management tool must allow users to assign roles, responsibilities, and tasks to various team members with ease. The path of a submitted request and management of change requests must be clearly defined in the tool.

The change management software must enable stakeholders to easily submit change requests, which are evaluated based on the predefined roles and access controls. The tool must enable a structured and transparent approach to proposing and implementing changes. In addition to role definition, the change management tool must allow you to control who has access to sensitive data. Access logs and notifications keep leaders informed of any changes while allowing them to revert to past instances when the need arises. 

Workflow automation

Automation plays a key role in improving the efficiency of business functions and processes. The change management process is not an exception to this. Currently, several change management tools have mastered the art of automating routine tasks like scheduling, data gathering, sending notifications, and facilitating the change management approval process. A no-code workflow automation tool like Cflow makes it super easy to automate the change management approval process. 

Communication and Collaboration

The right change management tool must offer features that help teams communicate and collaborate seamlessly. The tool must enable-

    • Seamless communication of relevant information to specific stakeholders
    • Seamless collaboration on tasks asynchronously in real-time
    • Effective communication channels without any loss of information

Risk assessment

Modern change management tools offer both manual and automated features that help teams assess the risks involved in making changes to their processes. Automation can be useful in risk assessment, and in the triage and mitigation of minor issues as they arise. As and when high-risk events are identified, the change management tool will alert stakeholders, thereby, providing a roadmap of how to handle the situation. Intelligent CM tools are taking change management to the next level by continuously learning from the experience. 

Document management

Knowledge and document management are crucial for the success of change management efforts. Both these aspects of change management ensure that the team always has the right information when it is needed. A centralized knowledge hub makes all organizational knowledge readily available to all team members as they go about implementing the change. Modern knowledge base tools also simplify the management of knowledge documents. Document management focuses on keeping all digital paperwork and company documents organized, accessible, and manageable. 

Reporting and analytics

Real-time reporting and analytic features help in ensuring that change initiatives are on track. This feature provides clear and deep insights into how employees and overall teams can implement and manage changes in their workflows. These insights can be used as a guide and an assist in real-time, and develop more focused training sessions for the future. The reporting and analytics feature also helps you track the effectiveness of changes as they are implemented. The information provided by reports can help in –

  • Making further improvements to the process
  • Identifying related areas in need of improvement
  • Improving the overall approach to organizational change

Performance monitoring

The change management tool must provide effective ways to gather feedback on the team members’ performance throughout the change management cycle. This data helps you further enable your teams in real time to make targeted improvements for future change initiatives. Armed with this data, you will be able to make more informed and practical decisions, thereby, empowering employees to meet performance standards. 


The change management software must integrate seamlessly with other vital tools in the tech stack. Lack of integration leads to siloed information and siloed processes, which is not conducive to organizational growth. Integrations allow users to utilize the best-suited tool for the current task. 

Popular Change Management Models

There are several types of change management models available to choose from. We have listed 5 of the most popular change management tools for you to consider. 

1. ADKAR Change Management

The Awareness-Desire-Knowledge-Ability-Reinforcement (ADKAR) model is focused mainly on employees’ welfare during the change implementation. Following this model helps your team members be prepared and aligned with the change process. 

2. Lewin’s Change Management Model

This model emphasizes enabling organizational structure for managing change. The Lewin’s model involves 3 stages –

  • Unfreezing stage – This is when you deconstruct old ways to make way for the new ways
  • Change – This is when you start implementing the change
  • Freeze- Once the change is implemented you cement it and make it standard across the organization. 

3. Kotter’s change management model

This model offers a detailed approach to change management, mainly focusing on how employees respond to change. The steps include –

  • Increasing urgency
  • Building the team
  • Forming strategic vision and initiatives
  • Communicating
  • Enabling action
  • Focusing on short-term goals
  • Reinforcing change
  • Persisting 

4. McKinsey 7-S Model

This model considers the organization’s design for change management with 7 crucial stages or steps. 

  • Strategy – A step-by-step plan for change management
  • Structure- Ensuring that the plan is aligned with the organizational structure
  • Systems – Equipping employees with tools to execute change
  • Shared values – Sharing change values and goals with employees
  • Style – Cultivating specific work ethics for uniformity among employees
  • Staff – Building the right team to drive changes
  • Skills – Conducting training for staff to empower them 

5. Kubler-Ross Five-stage model

This model again focuses on employees in the change management process to help employers understand employees better. The 5 stages are

  • Denial – Employees are not ready to accept change
  • Anger – Denial metamorphosizes into anger
  • Bargaining – Employees engage with you to figure out how to deal with the situation
  • Depression – When all efforts of employees to prevent the change fail, they get depressed
  • Acceptance – Employees will eventually realize that the change is here to stay and that it is in their best interest

Change management can be effectively implemented by following one of the above models as per the requirements of your organization. The change management tool you choose may either be based on any of these models or follow models outside this list.

How Cflow Can Help With Effective Change Management

If you want to have effective change management, then the smartest way is to invest in an ERP solution that aligns with your business goals and brings together different business functions.

Cflow’s ERP is here to automate tedious manual tasks and free up resources for adapting to organizational changes and being innovative and competitive. Cflow is an AI-powered workflow automation platform that enables businesses to manage processes in the cloud, creating real-time visibility into important data and helping leaders monitor effective change and business growth. Cflow is competent with your business changes as it provides greater flexibility and visibility to manage change and encourage innovation.


Businesses must constantly evolve and adapt to meet a variety of challenges – from changes in technology to regulatory changes to the rise of new competition. Failure to do so may lead to stagnation, or worse cause business to shut down. A McKinsey & Company study on “The State of the Organizations 2023, reveals that the failure of 72% of the transformations can be attributed to inadequate support for change and employee resistance. Both of these factors arise due to the lack of a proper change management process. 

A well-planned change management process is the need of the hour for organizations looking to stay relevant amidst evolving customer demands and market fluctuations. Cflow can be your change management partner for automating the change management approval process. Interested in knowing how? Sign up for the free trial now.

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