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Managing change in Salesforce and the rest of your tech stack is challenging because of the amount of risk involved. Yet, it’s a necessary part of working in operations. Change management is the systematic approach to managing change. And it’s vital to making any major change management project effective.

To implement change management, you need the right combination of tools and processes. You also need to commit to sticking to your plan.

What is a change management plan?

A change management plan is a detailed overview of the people, processes, and tools involved in your change project. It acts as your guide to the entire project. It should include the following:

  • Who is involved in the change project
  • The scope and timing of the project
  • Which users will be affected by the change(s)
  • Why you plan to make the change(s)
  • Your plan for communicating the change(s)
  • How you plan to measure the effectiveness of your project

Developing your change management plan will take time, but it’s worth the investment. Without a plan, you leave the door wide open to errors. It also hinders user adoption. One of the most challenging aspects of implementing any change is getting users on board. By including two-way communication in your plan, you can help them see the value of the changes you’re making.

How do you start a change management plan?

The best way to start a change management plan is by developing a template using the sections outlined above. Once you create your template, you can reuse it for every project. Following a template will ensure that you cover all of your bases.

Using your template as a starting point, work with all of your key stakeholders to create your plan. You’ll need to get buy-in from leadership on some aspects of your plan, particularly in regard to user impacts and measurements.

Tips for developing a thorough plan 

To make sure that your change management plan is thorough and detailed enough, ask yourself the following questions as you develop it:

  • Why are we making these changes?
  • Does the impact outweigh the effort needed to implement the changes?
  • How do the changes align with the organization’s strategic goals?
  • What are the downstream impacts of the change?

Asking these questions will help you identify which changes are absolutely essential, and which ones can be delayed. This process will help you reduce risk by streamlining the number of changes you make.

What is an effective process for change management?

An effective change management process is thorough and meticulous, as this Salesforce resource details. The nine-step process includes the following steps:

  1. Developing Strategy
  2. Working with an executive sponsor
  3. Gathering input from users
  4. Defining the scope and impact of the change
  5. Prioritizing changes
  6. Testing and configuration
  7. Training and communication
  8. Deployment
  9. Following up and supporting

Following this process for every change project sets you up for success. Everyone involved in the change project understands their marching orders. Leadership is engaged and offering support. And with user feedback, you can develop a training and communication plan that keeps them engaged.

User engagement is critical to humanizing your change project. While you may be in the weeds of technical jargon, the average salesperson or customer success manager is asking, “How does this change affect me? By talking to users before you start making changes, you can gain a better understanding of their perspective. That understanding can be used to inform your training and communication plan. It’s important to include only the information that they need. Too much information can turn them off.

How does Sonar play into an effective process for change management? 

Another way to turn users off is by providing inaccurate information. Sometimes, that’s out of your hands. Despite your best efforts, most ops teams lack insight into the true impact of planned changes. It’s not uncommon for a major change project to be followed by a cleanup effort, where you put out the fires caused by the change.

Sonar eliminates those headaches by providing Change Intelligence, right inside Salesforce.

Change Intelligence is knowing the impacts and dependencies that are necessary to confidently manage complex technology. Change Intelligence solutions guide the art of how to design, implement, and iterate processes that accelerate revenue.

Incorporating Sonar into your change management process can transform the unknown into knowns. Armed with that knowledge, you can implement a more strategic change project and provide users with reliable information on what to expect.