What is Change Management? And Why Is it Key to Digital Transformation?

Digital transformations are complex, and according to a recent survey, nearly 90% of transformations fail.  There are a host of contributing factors that can lead to failure, but the most common thread is poor change management.

What Is Change Management?

There are hundreds of definitions for change management, but generally speaking, it can be defined as the process and techniques used to manage people impacted by change and lead them to the required business outcome. Typically, the stages of change management include:

  1. Preparation for the change.
  2. Designing the steps towards the desired outcome.
  3. Building out the infrastructure and technology.
  4. Launching.

With an eye on change management, a digital transformation is much more likely to achieve its goals.


Preparing for a digital transformation with a focus on change management is about more than just building a business case. To fully prepare:

  • Develop a clear statement of goals for the transformation.
  • Identify key change agents who will help remove roadblocks and who will be advocates for change.
  • Schedule regular steering meetings with stakeholders, change agents and functional leaders to refine the plan as needed over the course of the process.
  • Begin tracking and mitigating potential risks like end-user adoption, employee resistance, access to legacy programs, etc.
  • Create a plan for communicating the transformation and its associated changes with employees, and then executing that plan.
  • Developing plans for training employees. These should include advanced sessions to prepare employees for changes in the pipeline.


Next, the blueprint for the transformation will be created. This includes wireframes, prototypes, proof of concepts, mapping, data modeling, etc., depending on the unique facets of the transformation. This is the bridge between preparation and build, where the input, ideas and information from phase one build the roadmap for phase three. The design phase should also include solidifying team roles and workflow, defining KPIs, executing communications strategies that build positive energy among employees, etc.


During this phase, the plan begins to become a reality, and it is also the phase where change management often derails. There is so much focus on the work being done, that leaders neglect to support the employees who will ultimately be impacted by the transformation. Employee resistance to change can be difficult to overcome when it is allowed to fester unchecked, so it is important to continue to communicate with staff and hold meetings where people can ask questions and have their fears addressed.


Once the project is launched, the work is not over. This is where the rubber hits the road for employee adoption and it is when resistant employees are the most vocal and wield the most influence. However, if you’ve focused on change management from day one, and if you’ve chosen strong change agents who help speed up adoption, you can avoid a mutiny during launch at hit your adoption targets.

Are You Ready For Your Digital Transformation?

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