Debbie Cameron Presents: Change Management, Not Just Buzzwords

 In Change Management

Build’s own Debbie Cameron presents Change Management: Practical Solutions, Not Just Buzzwords virtually at the 2020 Good Tech Fest conference. Good Tech Fest, an excellent conference on data and technology for organizations within the social sector, took place in 2020 virtually. We love Data Analysts for Social Good, the organizers of the event!

Session information

Change Management: Practical Solutions, Not Just Buzzwords


“Change management” is a discipline with rigorous methodologies but applying it to your organization or technology project is an art. Join us to help demystify the discipline and learn practical and innovative tools to help you apply change management principles to your unique situation.

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Transcript: Debbie Cameron Presents Change Management

Debbie Cameron:  Good morning, everybody. I am very excited to be with you all this morning. Welcome to Change Management Practical Solutions Not Just Buzzwords. I certainly wish we could all be together in Chicago today, but I’m very excited to be with you virtually.

This is my first time presenting virtually, so bear with me, but really excited to interact with you all during the Q and A session and in the Slack channel after the presentation. So thank you for attending and welcome.

My experience with change management is that a lot of people think it’s full of buzzwords and the language and tools are not accessible. They’re not sure how to approach it and so I hope to change some of that today, if any of you have felt that way. Despite being a buzzword user myself, I will admit, I hope that you walk away today with a practical understanding of change management and of the tools used to approach it.

Starting with an introduction, a little bit about myself, my name is Debbie Cameron, as you know. I’m the managing consultant [now Partner – 2022] at Build Consulting. We’re a small consulting firm that focuses exclusively on nonprofits.

We work with clients on a range of engagements, including technology assessments, selections and help to support implementations. We offer CIO services. We have data managers that help support CRM management. So this gives us a wide breadth of experience with our clients, which is really wonderful.

Personally, I’ve been a management and IT consultant for about 22 years. I started my career in larger consulting firms, working at firms like Arthur Andersen and Bearing Point doing very large ERP implementations in the private sector. About five or six years into my career, I wanted more purpose in the work I was doing. So I was lucky enough to be able to join the nonprofit arm and continued working or began working with nonprofits then. But I wanted to see how it worked within the walls of a nonprofit. So I had a great opportunity to join the World Wildlife Fund to lead their implementation of their CRM. It was about a three-year implementation. It was a great experience; I loved working for them, the mission, the people.

I found my experience as a consultant, both in the private sector as well as in the nonprofit sector, really helped me be an advocate for them and helped them navigate this field. Then I went on to join Build after that, which has the best of both worlds, because I can be an advocate for my clients and I get to work with more than one nonprofit, which is wonderful.

But what’s important to me and what has become my professional passion is helping nonprofits make their projects successful and when you look at why projects aren’t successful, there’s a range of research. There’s lots of reasons, but one reason where I think you can really make a difference is in the area of change management and that’s why I’ve gotten involved in change management as a practitioner and I’m hoping that some of what I share with you today will help make your project successful.

And I think we’re living right now in a world of uncertainty. I love my job, but these days I’m doing a lot of other jobs that I don’t normally do. Because I’m a mom, in the world we are in today, I’m a teacher, I’ve become a hairdresser, short-order cook. I have a child-based cleaning crew that I’m overseeing, because like many of you I’ve been thrust into a role of change that I didn’t see coming and I didn’t plan for it and when my state’s governor issued that stay at home order and schools were closed and family gathering stopped and babysitters couldn’t come to my house anymore, it changed.

It changed my world and made it a really uncertain place. And for me, I think this is so relevant to what we’re going to talk about today. Because the results of not being prepared for all of this and the result of not being ready for this change, resulted in a little bit of, let’s be honest, let’s call it chaos. In my house, in my life, in my work and there’s been days when I’ve felt really bad about the job I was doing as a mom, as a teacher, as a consultant.

But luckily, everybody’s being very supportive and together, and there’s a lot of support out there that reassures you and reminds you that we weren’t prepared for this. We couldn’t have planned for this and so of course it makes sense that I’m not a great teacher, because I have no formal training in that and of course it makes sense that my 10-year-old daughter is not the best toilet cleaner and my 13-year-old is not going to make the shower sparkle. But it took some time and there were costs along the line as my husband and I got our feet under us to figure out how to manage this new normal. That lack of being prepared and that lack of being able to brace for this change that we are all undergoing together has resulted in some negative emotions, some lost time and resources.

That helped drive the goals that I wanted to talk about today because the good news is that most change can be planned for, most change can be foreseen.

It can be calculated and we can plan for it. What I personally have been going through helped drive my goals for today’s session. So I hope this aligns with what you all came here today to learn.

Learning Goals

I do always like to, at the beginning of a session, go over the goals to make sure everybody’s in the right place.

I wanted to start by talking about

  • what is meant by change management and setting some context for what that means.
  • I also wanted to talk about how we can approach change management. I do recognize that we have some folks from smaller organizations. We have one or two consultants that had planned to attend and then we have some folks from larger organizations and so I really tried to curate the content so that everyone could walk away with something. My goal is that everyone at each end of the spectrum can walk away with something from today.
  • And finally, I really wanted to introduce some practical and accessible tools for you to take away and try out at your organizations .

So let’s get started. If you’ve at all had any exposure to Build Consulting, you may have seen this before because we use it all the time and the reason we always use it is because it really lands with people. We generally get a good laugh or we get groans because there’s some truth in here and for those who have not seen it, I can promise you, it’s not a math equation.


What these letters stand for are old organization plus new technology equals expensive old organization, because it’s true.

You can walk into an organization and introduce the most cutting edge, the most savvy, the most sophisticated technology. But if you have not changed the organization, if you have not determined the ways that organization needs to interact with that technology, embrace the technology, change their behavior to fully utilize the technology, then you’ve really just made a huge investment that you’re not going to see returns on.

So how do you not become an expensive old organization? And that’s where I hope this presentation leads us today.

“If you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance even less.” – Gen. Eric Shinseki

Many of us have seen this quote before and I’m borrowing it because I think it’s a compelling way to say, if you don’t like change, then you’re going to be kind of left in the background, right? Things are going to move. My mother loves to say, the only thing you can count on is change, and it’s true. And if you don’t move along with it or you don’t figure out a way to accept it, then you will struggle. So while this quote is really focused on an individual change, I think it really applies to organizational change and I think that we do need to remind ourselves, our peers, our leaders, that if we don’t change, if we accept the status quo, the way of doing business, then we are going to be left behind.

The Problem

And so ways we can do that is by talking about change management. (10:38-10:50 mic off) (Technology-related changes) were being introduced into the world and people were investing in them and leveraging them and implementing them and expecting these really great things to happen with their organization and then all of a sudden these projects started to not be successful. And I think in the latest research, it’s 50% of technology projects are not successful.

And so you have to look at why and one problem that is consistent is that when we make technology changes and we do not consider the people part of it, we don’t look at the people side of it, then we really don’t implement correctly. We don’t execute correctly. A good deal of the failure rate of these technology projects is related to the fact that we simply are not doing a good enough job of anticipating the effect of these projects, what that effect is having on the people we were really supposed to help and we’re really supposed to be serving as we introduce these new tools.

And so, when these impacts hit them, we lose them. We lose their hearts, we lose their mind, we lose their trust and we don’t get the return on the investment that we hoped for and then leadership’s upset and wondering what happened.

The Solution

And so the solution is really change management. The answer to a lot of these challenges lies in the field of organizational change management, which is really just an academic term of saying you have to pay attention to the people side of any project.

I like to think of change management being the art and science of helping people to prepare for the changes and really, if you think about it, in a lot of ways the disruptions that will be occurring, and help them understand how to respond to them. Help them understand what to do during this time. Provide them comfort, make them more comfortable because change represents a lot of discomfort.

I think change management, I think the most well-known definition is it should guide how we prepare, how we equip and how we support the individuals to successfully adopt the change.

And so I think as long as you pay attention to

  • preparing,
  • supporting,
  • and equipping your individuals, your stakeholders within your project,

you’re going to be successful or you’re going to set yourself up for success. There’s a lot of things that go into it, right?

What Change Management Is Not

It is a frequent mistake, that with change management, the assumption is you’re going to do all these things and everybody’s going to be happy and excited for the project. And that’s not true because change management is not about making everybody happy. It’s about making everybody ready for the change.

So you’ll notice it does not say “Guide to How We Make People Happy.” We just want to make them ready. I think that an important thing to remember too, is to set yourself a goal that we will bring X percent along as part of this change. We will reach X percent and get them comfortable with this change; get them to accept this change.

There will always be outliers that you can’t reach, that you can’t bring along and the thought is that if you’re moving the herd, they will come along. Because the wave is going to take them anyway and so while you’re not going to reach everybody, the goal is to reach as many as you can.

Do We Need Change Management?

We get asked a lot, especially if we’re serving in a system selection project or an implementation support project, do we need change management?

If your change requires people to adjust their behavior, and I’ll say that again. If the change requires anyone in your organization to adjust their behavior, you need change management.

How Do I Budget for Change Management?

The other question we get asked a lot is, how do I budget for change management? And this is tough because without knowing the culture of an organization, without knowing the history of projects within an organization, it is difficult to be able to answer this question.

But in an effort to try to do so, I wanted to introduce some multipliers that I think might be useful to some of you.

So the first bucket that we’re talking about is the change that affects one department. (5-10% of project budget) So I think as you sit down and you’re thinking about the project that you’re about to take on, you need to ask yourself some questions, how many departments are expected to change?

What will be the extent of the change expected of people?

What is the extent of the behavioral change?

One example, or one extreme end can be an accounting department. They’re going to pay vendors via ACH now. That is one department. They’re used to paying vendors, they’re just changing the tool that they’re using to pay the vendors. Right?

I think on the other extreme, you could be introducing a CRM to an entire organization and the expectation is that this CRM is going to change the way that you manage and engage with your constituents. (15-20% of project budget)

I think in between is an already established process. (10-15% of project budget) Say a project cost system where you now have to enter your time in. You’ve always been tracking your time and keeping track of it, but maybe it’s in a spreadsheet or in a document. Now you’re going to have an official system to do.

So the process is well established, but the tool is new. So I’d put that in the middle bucket.

  • So for those smaller changes that affect that one department, I’d say a safe bet is to budget five to 10% for change management.
  • That middle bucket would be closer to 10 or 15%.
  • If you’re doing a big change, that is introducing a new way of working, I think you’re looking at 15 to 20% of your bucket.

And I just want to say before moving off the, the topic of budget, that I’ve always said, and I truly believe that every dollar that is spent on change management, that you invest upfront in change management, you will save at least $3 for every dollar you spend over the life of the project.

Over the lifespan of owning that technology, given that technology is there to support expected behaviors, not drive expected behaviors, that savings vastly underrepresents the financial impact of investing in change management.

And I think that if you are struggling in a position, which I think a lot of folks often are, struggling to convince your leadership that there needs to be a budget line item in your project to dedicate time and resources to change management, there’s enough research out there about the cost of not having changed management that you should really look at pulling on that research and putting together a quick memo for your leadership and helping them understand that this will cost in the long run.

A good question has come in over chat that I’d love to hit upon before we move off the tough topic.

How can this bucketing system be used along with the size of an org department to budget the TIME necessary to affect the change?

That’s a fantastic question.

It can be done in a similar way. In the change management effort, a lot of especially larger organizations dedicate the resources internally to save the money on the change management consultant. So what you need to think about is how much of that top person’s time is going to be spent doing that?

The way to look at that is whatever you are allocating for an internal project manager, depending on the project, you should allocate 75, 50 or 25% of that person’s time to support that project manager because if you look at the roles, the project manager has a whole other set of roles and responsibilities that do not focus on change management. You introduce the change manager who, depending on the size of the project, should be operating at either 75, 50, 25% of the project manager’s time.

Now in terms of the size of the organization and department, it’s true that you really need to take a look at how many people we’re talking about. Because you’re right. If you’re talking about a 40 or 50 person organization, even if it’s affecting the entire organization, it’s going to be a lot less.

So the multiplier there is a little bit more tricky, but if you have an example, we can talk about it in the Slack channel after the presentation. I’d love to help with that because I do think one of the big challenges with organizations being able to make change management part of their projects is getting over this hump of figuring out how to budget for it; how to sell leadership on it and understanding the return on this type of investment you’re going to have. So happy to continue the conversation in Slack after the presentation. Good question, though. Thank you.

How Do I Execute Change Management?

So we’ve talked about what change management is. So now I’d love to talk about how we execute change management. When I first started in this field, there was so much research, so many books. I love to read; I dove into all of them. I went to conferences, trainings and there were just so many ideas and so many thoughts that you can really get overwhelmed with how to take on this. Knowing you need to do it. How do I take this on? And so what I wanted to do is share with you.

Build Consulting Change Management Framework

We work with small organizations and we work with large organizations and so our goal was to put together a framework that could be scalable for both. I’d like to introduce that framework to you and share it in the hopes that you can apply it to your organization, because we like to think we’ve simplified it.

Maybe at the end of this presentation, you’ll comment that we did not in fact simplify it, but hopefully it’s a little bit more accessible than some of the very large change leader books I’ve read.

3 Steps

We boiled it down to three steps.

  • It’s important to define the change as your first step,
  • identify the impacts and
  • prepare for the impacts.

And to me it makes a lot of sense, right? You have to figure out what’s changing. You have to identify what the downstream effects of that change are. Then you have to figure out how are we going to mitigate the negative response that people might have to those impacts? How do we set people up for success to embrace those impacts and not be impacted negatively?

What we like about this framework is we feel like regardless if you’re talking about a very small change or of a large change for a large organization, we’ve found that this approach works well.

And so first I’m going to go through the framework and just kind of talk at a very high level of what we try to achieve in each of these steps. Then, as we mentioned in the goals, we will move on to introducing some tools and how you can do these things.

Define the Change

So starting at a high level, defining the change. I cannot overemphasize how important this is. Frequently, people are excited. They’ve been working on Great Plains for years and they’re so over it and they heard about this amazing new dimensionalized chart of accounts accounting system and they can’t wait to plough through and start the implementation. They know they want this one, they’re ready to go. But you can’t just leave it as, we’re changing our accounting system. It has to be more specific than that.

I encourage you to write it down.

We don’t get into all the details at this level, but write down what is changing, be specific.

  • Share it out with the people that matter,
  • collect their feedback,
  • update it and
  • share it out again.

We need to understand at an organizational level at this point what is changing. It’s just not the financial system that’s changing. Hey, if we’re moving into a dimensionalized chart of accounts, our chart of accounts are likely going to change. Is the way we deal with our vendors going to change?

Look at those high level functional areas and figure out what is going to change in those. Ensure that the decision makers and key stakeholders agree that these are the changes, that we’re getting it right in terms of defining the changes.

And for everyone else, we just need to ensure that they’re clear that a change is coming. At this point, we want to start socializing: a change is coming. We’re going to provide a lot more details down the road, but a change is coming.

And again, going back to the “everybody might not be happy about it” part, in this process, leadership, the project team, those who are driving this forward need to recognize that that doesn’t mean everyone’s going to agree to this change, but we’ve started the conversation. We’ve told them that it’s coming and that’s going to pay off.

Identify the Impacts

So the second phase is about taking that change that was at the organizational level and connecting it down to the individual roles, individual jobs, the day to day work.

Talk about, okay, if we are changing our chart of accounts, what is impacted? What are the downstream effects? How is that going to change Sally’s job? How is that going to change Debbie’s job? Are there changes that are going to be needed in processes, policies, job responsibilities? Is there a tool that’s changing?

All of these ways, all of these things that are changing need to be well defined and documented. And so this step is really about getting into the weeds of the change and understanding every area that is impacted and how it is impacted.

The goal is that those items that have the largest impact, the largest change, are going to float to the top. It’s going to enable you to prioritize based on how much time you’re allowed to allocate to this. How many resources you have, how quick the project is. It’s going to let you prioritize what you need to focus on in terms of training, in terms of communication, in terms of those types of things.

Prepare for Impacts

And then we prepare. We work with leadership to make sure that they are our champions, our role models, that they’re involved. We communicate and there’s a number of strategies that we can leverage here to make sure that our stakeholders are ready. Our end users are ready.

When we talk through the tools we’ll go through this in a little more detail. But there are four areas of key focus that I think are most important. There’s so many things you can do in this prepare for impacts part and some of them are really, really exciting. Some of them are cutting edge. If you have a passion, one of our partners has a passion for design. You can do some really cool design things to engage with your stakeholders.

But if you don’t have the time, the skills, the resources for all of that, you really need to focus on four areas and that’s your

  • leadership,
  • communications,
  • training

And we’ll talk about that a little bit more.

What are Some Practical and Accessible Tools?

And so what are some practical and accessible tools? This I think is going to be the biggest takeaway for you today, because it’s hard to know where to start. And I think it’s easy to get stuck on how to move through those steps we just talked about.

Okay, I know there’s a change. How do I define it? How do I calculate the impacts? How do I prepare my stakeholders for these things? And so I’m really hoping that what I am about to introduce I’m able to do in a way that you all can take these back to your organizations and leverage them. I think I was guilty of this when I first considered myself being a change management practitioner.

I think folks often make the mistake of trying to make it too complicated, a little too over-thought. Yes, people can be complicated. But it’s amazing that the simple things go a long way. Making people feel heard goes a long way.

I had a particular project, it was a very large organizational change and I had a pocket of resistance in this one team that I was working with. And it was amazing that just having a weekly cup of coffee with that team, so that I could be very transparent about where the project was, built their trust. They had a window to talk to me about what they were unhappy about, what they didn’t like about the change, about what they were scared about, about what they didn’t think was going to go well, about the problems that they thought were going to happen after we flipped the switch.

And I will tell you, by the time we got to go live, two of those team members were the biggest champions. I actually caught one of them as we were moving towards the final data conversion, bringing over the data from our legacy system before going live, I caught her in a conversation defending how exciting this change was going to be and talking about how the organization was going to benefit from this. And so for me, it was a proud moment because we made a difference there.

That was just conversation. I was able to identify that team as being resistant and not happy about the change by using some of the tools I’m about to share, but how I addressed that was a cup of coffee once a week, sometimes every other week when we got busy. But it’s really the simple side of just making people feel like they’re a part of it.

So if some of these tools feel overwhelming and not accessible, always go back to that cup of coffee, always go back to just making somebody available for these folks to talk to, because that’ll make a difference.

People Need to Understand the What and the Why

So starting with defining the change, this is really about making people understand the “what and the why.” And so the best way to do any sort of definition is to ask yourself the who, the what, the why and the where.

And so we first need to find out:

  • Who’s involved in the change?
  • What is the nature of the change?
  • Why is the change needed?
  • Where does this change fit in, in the organization?

And we’ll talk about this in a few slides, but where does this change fit in? It’s important because if you’re planning a go live of a very large project during a very busy time, you already know what resistance you are going to reach, because people are going to question why we are choosing to do it at this time.

And so seeing where this change fits in with all other activities going on in the organization helps you figure out and define why it has to happen during this time. Or maybe before we even define the change and start sharing it out, maybe we tweak the timing of it. Maybe there’s a reason to move it. And so that’s why you want to ask that “where” question.

I think the, who, what, why are kind of intuitive, but that where sometimes isn’t intuitive, so I just wanted to call that out.


So let’s start with the who. So some of you may have heard of or have used a stakeholder matrix. This is the version that after years of tweaking I define as the Build stakeholder matrix and I find it really helpful.

Stakeholder Matrix
Stakeholders has become a commonly used term and I think it has because of how important that term has become to projects. I think it’s representative of change management, having a voice in these projects because I think change management introduced that term.

Change is uncomfortable for most. So a key driver to successful change is to involve people impacted in any change that an organization is going forward with.

The stakeholder matrix is about identifying those people that are part of that change. And it’s really about making a list. And if that’s all you can do, that’s great. Make the list of people or teams that are affected by this change. Whenever we start this exercise, a lot of our clients like to fast forward through it because they think we’ve already done this.

We know the who’s; we’ve got a project team picked out. But then when you sit down you connect that team or that person to their representative on the project, whether it’s on the executive committee, whether it’s on the project team, whether it’s a subject matter expert that’s going to be called in during a design or a requirements review, or a business scenario discussion. What you will see more often than not is there are groups that are underrepresented at the project level.

And so it’s really good to force yourself and get some other people to also validate that the list is complete and that everybody’s represented on the project level.

The columns on more of the right hand side talk about if you’re aware of any anticipated issues, motivation or drivers that you know about. Those two areas can become sensitive, right? And so if this matrix is going to be shared broadly, I’d leave those out, I’d delete them.

The expected project impact, which is that final column, I think is really important because if you’re going to need to take somebody’s time during any portion of the project, I think it’s important to be aware and to do your best guess effort of when that’s going to happen so that they have a heads up, and they’re not being pulled in.

It’s also a great sales point because you want them involved in the project because you know that they’re important and you couldn’t imagine completing the design without them. I think that column is an important part, but this is really just talking about who’s affected and whether or not we think they are ready for the change, and if they’re represented on the project.


Okay. So next up we asked the what. What types of changes are we making? And those were those smaller cells in the stakeholder matrix.

And it’s just helping you understand, are we talking about, for instance, is the philanthropy group going to be doing a process change and a technology change? Are there data structure changes, policy changes or job responsibilities changes?

And then taxonomy is a big one because a lot of times when you undergo, especially a technology project, it’s introducing a new vocabulary and you want to make sure that you do that in a thoughtful way. So that’s an important thing to think about. The flip side of that is it’s very difficult to begin any sort of technology project if the current business users are not using the same terms for the same thing.

So if people use “budget,” that’s a common one that I see used differently because some teams, they’re really only focused on grant budgets. And when they hear the word budget, they think of a grant budget. Other people like finance and accounting hear “budget,” and they think of the overall operational budget or the program budget. So those are some words that you want to get on the same page. So just another thing to think about and be aware of.


Okay, so why; this is a big one, because this addresses the needs of two things. Creating awareness, because you’re asking the question from their perspective so that you can introduce the concept of why should this person, or this team want to change? And why does the organization need to change?

Because you want the flip side of that to be for me to say, I understand why I, or I understand why the organization needs to change. I want to change because I see the benefits. Either way, you are setting your stakeholders up to make a decision.

Hopefully you’ve made a compelling reason for why your stakeholders would want to make the choice to change. However, it could go the other way, but the goal is to make it compelling for the stakeholders to decide to participate in the change, to decide to engage in the project and be excited for it. And to do that, you have to define the “what’s in it for me?” because we’re all motivated by how this is going to make my life better.

Where Does the Change Fit In?

Organizational Change Progress Report

This is the “where does the change fit in?” I find that it’s really helpful to create a project catalog. And I like this version because it’s visual and it can be shared with a senior leadership team on a set frequency basis.

This is where you really are looking at projects that are larger of nature within your organization, where they are in their life cycle and how many there are going on. And this helps to know how much change you’re asking your teams to take on. How much change is going on in the organization?

Once you have that catalog and know what change is going on, you can ask yourself, do I think our stakeholders could handle more change, or do I think our stakeholders are about to get very change fatigued because there’s just been change going on for the past two years. Let’s not introduce something now, or if we do, understand the risk that it’s really going to need change management, because these folks are tired.

And then also underscoring the fact that it helps to know when these things are being timed out across a fiscal year. I think a fiscal year is all we can really see. But I know some organizations that we’ve worked with have taken this and done it over an 18 month or some even 24-month period.

But the theory is that this top part, the organizational initiatives, are the projects that are going on in your organization that are short term projects. And just put a block so that you understand where they’re falling across the months in the year. And then the bottom half is really geared at putting your busy times. So year-end fundraising should go in here. Budgeting always takes up time from all teams across an organization, so put those in here so that you can see, Hey, are we going live during a busy time? Or, when is our staff going to be really pressed?

And that helps you prepare because maybe that’s too when you cue your leadership to stand in and thank everybody, cause they know they’re going to be working really hard in March because there’s three things going on. I

t’s just a good planning tool and it’s a really good visual to share with the senior leadership team so that they understand what’s going on and they understand why they might be hearing that people are taxed and things like that.

Identify the Impacts

Moving on to the impact analysis. Identifying the impact is really about digging into the details of the change and we talked about connecting the organizational change to the individual or group stakeholders. This is where we do that. This is where we describe how the change is going to affect the day to day life of doing business.

If we don’t translate the change down to that level, if we don’t connect that, we will lose people. The other thing that this does right out of the gate is it helps us to understand that a change impacts different groups differently.

A change that impacts one group marginally might totally blow up or disrupt another group in the organization. And so being able to dig into the details and create a tool that allows us to see this helps us understand what we really need to do in terms of planning. Because oftentimes, and I’m guilty of this sometimes, our leadership teams, they’re meant to live at that 10,000-foot level, right? But whoever’s probably keying into this new system or this new technology or executing this new processor policy is at that hundred level; they’re at the ground level. And so we want to make sure that we are aware of all the changes happening on the ground level so that we can prepare and plan and train and communicate and share and set those folks up for success. We don’t want to feel like we’ve left them behind.

And I will say, one of my most recent clients who I did a change project with, they recently shared with me that they thought the project was a success and they thought this was one of the top three reasons that the project was a success, specifically, the impact analysis. We spent a lot of time upfront going through all the changes that the new system would bring and we identified who it would affect. And then we weighted those changes: high, medium, or low, you’ll see in the tool.

And we went through and cataloged all the changes. We then assigned a change impact rating. So whether it was going to be high impact, medium impact, low impact. We could develop training, we could develop communications, we could plan around those high and some medium changes.

Impact Analysis

And so this is the impact analysis grid. There’s a lot of different ways to do this. This is just the way that Build has decided to do it. We find this to be effective. Again, because it’s scalable for the small projects and the large project and still really gets all the details, all the thoughts that you need into this worksheet. And so the goal of this grid is to really connect those larger changes.

You start at the largest end. That first column is talking about functional areas. So you sit down and my organization has these functional areas that are being impacted by this change. And then you’re going to dig in a little bit deeper because you’re going to look at each process area within that functional area. And then you’re going to go into the details about what exactly is changing.


Let’s do an example or two. Let’s use the example of implementing a new volunteer system. So there’s now functionality. I’m going to go simple here.

There’s now functionality to identify duplicate applications.

So the functional area would be, managing prospective volunteers.

The process area is the volunteer application process.

And the description around the change would be to no longer need to have a process to manually identify and resolve duplicate applications and any details if there’s an email notification or something like that.

And so you could then go across to the blue area and mark that it is a process change.

It’s a technology change. It’s a job role change. But when we get to the impact rating, I would personally rank it as low, right? Because we’re removing a manual process from someone’s job. So they need to be notified, but they don’t need to be trained.

Another more complex example would be, let’s say we’re migrating into an advanced management system.

We’ve been managing our events in Excel. We now have a system.

So when it’s time to create an event, that’s going to be very different, right? Because now your event managers or whoever’s in charge of events has to access a system.

There’s a new process. There might be required fields. There might be data that they need to make sure they have before they can even do this. So that’s a new process.

It’s a new tool. So I would rate that as a high impact rating.

And the goal here again, is to create a catalog of all the changes and then those high, and sometimes medium, depending on how much you can take on with the resources you have at your disposal, they’ll flip to the top and that’s what you can prepare yourself to address.

Prepare for Impacts

So we’re at a place now where we have a great foundation of understanding the change, right? Because we’ve clearly defined it. We’ve used our stakeholder matrix. We know who’s affected. We know why we’re making the change. We know what the change is from a high level. We know where it fits within the organization and we dug into the details and we now have a clear understanding of what specifically is changing.

So now, as we move into this last phase of our framework, we need to ask what we can leverage to prepare the people in the organization for this change.

And so there’s a lot of creative ways to do this, as I mentioned, but for keeping it simple, I think there’s four key areas of focus. And if you focus on these four areas, you’re setting yourself up for success.

  • Leadership alignment is where we engage with our leadership. We make sure they’re ready to be our cheerleaders. We make sure they’re ready to participate.
  • Communication is about outlining who we need to communicate with during the project. What do we need to communicate? Things like that.
  • Training is about what the scope of training needs to be, who our training audience is.
  • and four, we want to make sure there’s a support structure that they can lean on as they’re adopting the new tool and behavior.

Leadership Alignment

So it really means ensuring that leadership is prepared to be very supportive of the project. We want them engaged. We want them to not just be our champions and cheerleaders. We want them to be participating in the project. We want them to be visible. We want it to be consistent. And this is key because without that visible support from leadership, the project will suffer. There’s a lot of research out there that points to this as the number one obstacle for large projects to succeed. And I’ve seen it in my experience. I’ve seen lack of leadership alignment. I’ve seen lack of leadership engagement really affect a project and cost it, time and money.

So let’s talk about how we can engage our leadership. There’s a number of ways that you can work to ensure that this leadership alignment exists.

Clearly define project leaders. Engage with them. Underscore to them how important their involvement is. There’s a ton of research out there that you can pull on to put this together, to put together the business case for why they need to be engaged.

It’s a common misnomer that if they are there at the kick-off meeting and they are there at the launch, then that’s enough. It’s not. They need to be a part; they need to be present throughout the entire project. And so once you have your project leaders defined, sit down and talk to them about their role and the expectations of that role to see if that’s something that they’re going to be able to take on, because if it’s not, let’s start planning for that now. If we’re not going to be able to have this, let’s figure out what’s the bare minimum we can do in this area and figure out a contingency plan of how we can make up for any lack of participation because of capacity. Get on their calendar, set up a recurring meeting with them where you are able to pull their attention and focus on the projects. Draft communications for them that they can send out and encourage them to participate in either listening sessions with the project team or to attend departmental meetings.

Maybe go on a listening tour of departmental meetings. Again, being heard goes a long way. I know we talked about that earlier, but I just wanted to say that again because it’s really true.

And if people feel that they are being heard by their leadership, that’s going to help them come along in the change. And, so part of getting on their calendars, engaging in that constant communication, and helping them communicate with your stakeholders by developing those communications will help.

The last three I put in gray because they’re a little bit more complex. It would be my recommendation that unless you want to go and research those things and build them out, if you’re running into roadblocks with your leadership and you can’t find that avenue in, I would pull together a business case for engaging with a change management professional who can come and help your leader, help with leadership alignment. Because it is really key and if there’s any way you can get your leadership out there and visible, it’s going to go a long way.

Strategic Communication

Strategic communication’s also really important. I keep wanting to say that this is the most important, but all four of these are so important.

I can tell you when we arrive at a client who has already begun or survived an implementation, but it’s not working, so they pull us in to help. First thing we do is talk to the stakeholders and what do we commonly hear? They needed to be communicated with earlier. They didn’t have a voice in the project. They never knew what was going on. There was no strategy for communications. There was not enough communication.

And I think it’s just a good reminder that people need information. I know some people say, “Well, nobody reads the attachments when I send the status report.” Well, then figure out a way to shorten the status so it can be in the body of the email.

This does piggyback onto leadership alignment because you’ll want these communications to come from your senior leaders to help deliver and underscore them.

What Build likes to use is a communication plan. It works for a couple reasons. It provides the granularity on the execution of specific communications. But also it’s a way to show that you’re engaged, that you are communicating with all these audiences. You are planning on communicating with these audiences. And so right at the onset of the project, if somebody’s asking, how am I going to stay in the loop? Or how am I going to be involved? You’re able to very easily point to the communication plan.

Your audience, your team is an important part of the project, and that’s why we’ve defined them as an audience we need to communicate with, and we’re going to do so on a monthly basis, quarterly basis, whatever it needs to be. Having a communication plan is really about defining your audience.

How should you group the people you want to communicate with? Do you want to do it by location? Do you want to do it by function? Role within the organization? Perhaps it’s the degree of change being absorbed. Then be thoughtful about those key messages and when those key messages are being sent out.

Another pitfall that I’ve seen folks fall into is that the communication is all about the project update, project status. But what you really want to do is use that impact analysis that we did and those high levels of impact, you want to chunk those up and create some key messages so that every time you’re communicating with your stakeholders through a project, you’re almost starting training a little bit because you’re helping them understand what’s changing and you’re doing it in very small, digestible, non-overwhelming chunks.

When I’m engaged at an implementation, if there’s a project team member who has been involved in an implementation either at their current organization or in a previous one, what they often want to know is:

  • How it works now. What’s the current state?
  • What’s the future state
  • and what’s the difference?

I think that’s telling because when that’s not done well in a project, these stakeholders are carrying it with them to their next project because they didn’t get that.

So stylistically, when we’re talking about these changes, if you’re thinking about how you want to chunk this up into key messages, you take those changes and you say: this is how we did it; this is how we’re going to do it; and this is the difference.

And you can do that in a visual way to respond because we all absorb information differently, right? Some people like to read it. Some people like to write it. Some people like to hear it. Some people like things visually. So I would change that up.

But I think the content, if you’re wondering how to develop key messages, that’s a good approach for content.

Then you’re determining the appropriate vehicles. Is it going to be an email? Is it going to be on posters hung? If you’re in an office, is it going to be on posters hung near the coffee machine? Is it going to be delivered in an all staff meeting?

And the timing? It is tough because you don’t want to over communicate. You don’t want to under communicate. It’s finding that balance.

Do what you think is right and check in with your stakeholders as you’re moving along and see if they feel like you’re over communicating, under communicating? This should be a living, working document throughout your project. Because the goal of it is really to just keep stakeholders engaged, right?


I don’t think I would have to convince anyone who’s been part of a change how important training is, but the goal is you really just want to provide your team with the skills that they need.

And again, depending on the change, it could be a job aid or a Knowledge Space article or a quick one hour meeting, or you could need to develop a very specific training plan.

We can’t expect people to adopt a change if we don’t train them how to be successful in the new world. And so we just need to ask ourselves, have we adequately planned to provide them the new skills that they need to be successful? It’s a critical part of any project to ensure that the training is going to be there and it’s going to be enough for them.

So there’s a lot of ways to do this. The example that I’m providing here is for a larger project. It’s for something where you’re going to have different training audiences that you’re going to have to tailor the content to.

But what I think the takeaway should be here is that the important thing is to determine the needs early. And if you’re working with a vendor, push the vendor on this.

As part of change management engagements, we are asked to scope and develop the training plan because training is consistently under scoped as part of implementations and a lack of detail in the scope and plan to address training needs during technology projects; there is often a lack of detail in how they’re going to.

So this is something that you should focus on early. Make sure the scope is well defined. If not, if you have several audiences, I would create a detailed training plan. It doesn’t have to be this word document. We’ve done it in PowerPoint. We’ve done it in simple word tables. It doesn’t have to be overly complex. It just needs to be documented to make sure you’re hitting all your audiences and to make sure that there’s alignment between you and your vendor or whoever is providing training of how much needs to be done.

You don’t want to be scheduling training and there’s no content and no understanding of what you need to train on.

Another trick that I love is we always recommend identifying “super users” who sit in the teams that are being most affected. Like if they have a high impact of change, if there’s a super user that’s willing to receive a little bit more training or spend a little bit more time getting into the new technology or new process to become familiar with it, that’s really effective. That’s a great way to approach training as well.


And then finally support. We see so many clients plan to go live, the launch of a system or the rollout of new processes. It’s the end goal. They are working so hard to achieve this goal, but in reality, that’s the beginning, right?

You finally are bringing these teams into this process, into the new system, into the new world, the change, and they’re starting to experience it for the first time, many of them.

We’ve worked really hard to get them to understand why they should want to do this. We’ve hopefully provided them with training, so that they know how to do this. But once it’s reality, they’re still going to need support. And so what can that look like?

There’s lots of ways you can do this. If you’re a large organization or this is a pretty big system, make sure that the help desk is ready and prepared for this new world and is trained and knows what to do if they don’t know the answers.

Knowledge based articles are great.

Job Aids. I love Job Aids. People love Job Aids.

Lunch and Learns are always great, because then you also understand where training may not have made the connection, because you’re hearing themes over and over again in Lunch and Learns.

Office Hours are great.

Sustainment Planning

And then sustainment plans. And I’ll dive into sustainment plans a little bit because I find sustainment planning to be a really effective way of making sure project leaders and project teams don’t just look to the launch, they look beyond the launch. To demonstrate that opening the system up for end users does not mean we accomplished our goals or completed the project. We need to have people using the system or following the new process.

The new way of life is the way we intended before we take the foot off the pedal and celebrate the success. Don’t get me wrong. Absolutely celebrate all the successes. Celebrate!

But don’t check the box that the project is over and say, “Good job y’all,” because we need to bring those folks into the system. And so you need to plan for that. You need to plan for what that’s going to look like. You need to define what success is going to look like.

So ways you can do this is as you’re moving through the project, if it’s a process you can develop some key performance indicators. Like, how many times should somebody do this? How many of these should occur? How many submissions should occur? How many acceptances should occur?

If it’s a system, if it’s a technology tool it could be adoption, key performance indicators. We’ve had 80% of the philanthropy team logged in interaction in the first two weeks. Then have how many should be in the first four weeks, six weeks. You can look at system usage reports, set goals for these things.

When you read about and you learn about change management, a lot of circular graphics are involved because you’re not going to an end point. You are achieving something, but then you have to gather more information, make sure that it’s being followed, do some corrective action and then start again and then measure success for as long as you can.

It’s not foreseeable to do it forever, right? But depending on the scale of the change, you’ll want to do it for four weeks, six weeks, sometimes a year to gauge how well things are going. And there’s, there’s a lot of ways that you can do this after go live.

So we talked about some reports, those will be very easy to access, right? But also surveys are a great way to see how the user experience is going to see how people feel, to see if people know where to go for help, to see if they feel supported.

Meetings, attending departmental meetings, having listening sessions for end users, walking the floor, if that’s a possibility in your organization, in your situation, just to hear how people are doing.

And so once you get all this information, you measure them against those success criteria, your plan you outlined during the implementation or rollout. You measure the success and you figure out where those gaps are. And you figure out a plan. Is it training? Is it one on one? Do we need more Office Hours? Are people not supported?

Figure out a corrective action plan. And then as soon as you put in that action plan, the first sign of success, celebrate that. The positive reinforcement.

People are tired. People have been changing. People are trying to do their best. Start celebrating the little victories once you’ve started that action plan. And then, like I said, you’re kind of going to go back to the beginning. Because at that next checkpoint that you determined, maybe it’s two weeks from the end of the action plan execution. Maybe it’s four, maybe it’s six weeks. You’re going to measure that success again.

I see a few questions in the chat that I’ll just hit upon.

How do you handle coming onto a team, post initial implementation, where this training wasn’t developed?

Great question, all the while there are additional changes being made. What’s the saying? Trying to change the tire when the bus is moving?

First you acknowledge. You’re not in a great situation, right? This is difficult because you’re coming on and there’s no, there’s no training and you know that’s bad and changes are continuing to be made.

So in that situation, I would do two things.

I would one, create a date where the changes have to stop, and it’s a drop dead date. And if you have to do a business case, if you have to spend some time on a presentation about why it’s absolutely critical to the success of this project, why the changes need to stop at this date, it’s worth it.

And then the only thing you can do, if you have the resources to pull in an expert in training who could come in and stand up a curriculum based on what content you have to date, that would be the ideal.

If you don’t have those resources, then I would just set aside one hour and come up with your ideal training plan.Start a word document and just write the training audiences you want to hit, the general content and how long that would take to develop.

And once you have that information, sit down and really have a tough conversation with your leadership about what is achievable. What are you able to do? You have the business case of why you need to augment your training, your training resources, but if you don’t have the resources, there’s nothing you can do. So you just then prioritize those audiences, prioritize the content and do the best you can.

Another great question: Do you make recommendations to organizations resourcing and compensating those super users?


I found that many organizations have informal local experts or super users on different teams, but they tend to be more susceptible to burnout and low morale.


The most common thing we see in play is either rewards vacation or project bonus and they get an additional compensation for serving in that role for a set amount of time, which is also reaching a certain date. So they’re being compensated, but they’re also kind of locked in, so you don’t lose them during that time.

It serves twofold. If you don’t have the resources to make it monetary, vacation is the most common thing we see after that. But I think that it’s critical to make sure you have the cost of losing them. If you have to argue for the resources, the cost of losing them is going to be greater than what the bonus will be, quite honestly.

And then the last question, then we’ll move into our last section. Although, keep asking the questions, cause we’re going to have time.

Any recommendation for handling a technology project CRM system, where there was very little change management and training, but the project went live a year ago? How do you revisit and keep broader support of use of the system?

This is a great question. And this is something I’ve actually had experience with. I’ve done a couple of projects like this, and the best thing you can do is start from the beginning.

Do the stakeholder analysis. Start understanding where your groups lie in terms of their level of discontent, their level of distrust. Start to figure that out. A lot of times, because they aren’t trained and they didn’t have a voice, they think their business scenarios are not met. They think their requirements are not met by the system, when in all honesty they are.

So I would interview them. I would solicit where they are having pain points, where they’re experiencing trouble, where they don’t believe the system is meeting their needs.

And then I would put together a list of findings and where the situation is actually not as transparently… I don’t want to say “not true,” because you can’t validate, it’s their truth, right? So you can’t say it’s not true. It’s their truth.

Where there’s a gap of understanding or a gap of knowledge is the better way to say it. And once you have identified that you can put together kind of a training plan, but I would start from the beginning and you really are doing a change project. It’s no longer an implementation.

And the change management work is now separate from the implementation, but you need to do a change project and that involves finding out your stakeholders, really understanding where they are with the change. What’s not meeting their needs, what they’re discontent about, how it’s impacting business.

So the impact analysis is going to look a little bit different because you’re going to be showing where they are and how they are struggling, how that’s impacting business. So you’re going to present it a little bit differently.

Then you’re going to come up with an action plan and it’s going to involve training. You’re likely going to have to have a training plan and retrain everybody to reintroduce them to the system. And honestly you might want to think about a rebranding to go along with that as one of those creative tools that you can use.

But feel free to reach out to me in Slack because so we can brainstorm on that a little bit.

Do we have recommendations for people who can come in and do training resources, mid project?

Yes. You can probably find them if you’re on LinkedIn. You can probably find them in your LinkedIn network. But there’s a lot of training resources that specifically can take very little content and just because they are so well versed in user experience, they can create a great training program very quickly. So I’ll share those in Slack after the presentation as well.

So I think I hit the questions, but if I missed your question, I am going to do a quick read through in the Q and A.

I think I have three slides left of my presentation, because that was a lot that I shared.

Lot of talking by me and it feels weird because normally when I present, I’m able to interact with the crowd and I feel I’m missing that. I’m missing hearing your stories. I’m missing doing a breakout session, being able to talk to you individually. But I wanted to anticipate some questions.

One question I think probably is running through at least one person’s mind is, I don’t have the time or the resources to do any of that.

So let’s talk about that. What if your project is falling in that five to 10, that smaller project, but you don’t have five to 10% of the budget to dedicate to it. What can I do?

At the very least, I would say, do your stakeholder analysis grid.

Identify your stakeholders. Understand how they’re feeling about the change and that you can come up with little ways to try to address it, or you can use it as a business case for your leadership to invest at least the five to 10% in additional budget.

Maybe they can take it from contingency to develop some things to help prepare them for the impact.

Now let’s say you have that middle size project. But again, you don’t have that 10 to 15% of budget or time or resources to do it at the very minimum. If you could, work with these two tools (Stakeholder Analysis and Impact Analysis), because at the minimum, with these two tools, you can do some planning because we do have those green columns, which talk about ideas for leadership.

You can’t go into a lot of detail on the plan and you can’t really track how the progress is going on those things, but you can put down ideas. You can talk about training. You can talk about communications at least at a high level, and that will get you farther than if you weren’t tracking it at all.

And so if you don’t have resources and time, but you can at least work with these two tools to help you manage the change in your organization, I think it’s really going to help.

Now, of course, if you were doing that larger project, I’m going to implore you to work with your leadership to really get the budget, to help you.

And it doesn’t have to be bringing in Build Consulting to do it. I really hope that you’ve learned enough today that you can do it internally with your resources and a little research. Google is one of our best friends. But I hope you learned enough today to implement those tools.

Again, I’m available on Slack. I’ll share my contact information too. But if you can, get the resources so that you can augment yourself.

I’ve also seen clients where I’ve been on the implementation side of the fence, they have a change management task force that’s totally internally based and I’ve seen those task forces kick some serious change management.

So, you don’t need external resources to do this. You just need the commitment from leadership that people can spend their time on it.

So that is all I had to go through today. The video will be shared and available. So you can dig into some of the details that maybe I spoke quickly about. Hopefully the freezing didn’t continue, because that will make the video a little troublesome as well.

If there are no other questions, I just want to say I appreciate you all spending time with me today. I appreciate you letting me share my professional passion with you. I hope you learned something and have something to take away today.

I will share the resources that were screenshotted in the presentation on the Slack channel and my contact information. Again, this is a professional passion, so feel free to reach out with questions and I’m happy to answer them as well.

And thank you all. I really wish I could have met you in person, but maybe next time. I hope everybody enjoys the rest of the conference and has a great day.

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