Skip to main content

Why is change management important?

Change is a constant in the day-to-day lives of RevOps professionals. And every change brings risk. Lost data, broken automations, and a lack of user adoption are all potential pitfalls of making significant changes. And those pitfalls can easily impact revenue, the very thing ops teams are responsible for optimizing.

Poor change management is often the underlying cause of failure in major technology projects. Incorporating change management best practices allows you to mitigate the risks of updating or modifying your systems. Not only does it reduce the likelihood of errors, it also provides a framework that removes hiccups and misalignment within ops teams. 

Here’s the low-down on change management and why it’s vital to keep up with the fast pace of today’s revenue-generating organizations. 

Change management definition

Change management is the methodical approach to planning and implementing any sort of transition in an organization. The purpose of change management is to ensure that the transition is effective and efficient, minimize risk and prepare those affected by the change.

What is change management in an organization?

Change management is used broadly in business and organizational operations.  For executive leaders and human resources, change management is the process of preparing employees to adapt to change successfully. For example, when one company acquires another, change plays a significant role. When that happens, employees need communications and training to understand how it impacts them and if they need to adopt new practices, tools, and programs as part of the new company structure.

In other parts of the organization, particularly IT and RevOps, change management is the systematic approach to implementing change while minimizing disruptions and downtime. It’s the utilization of people, processes, and technology to prepare for and execute changes within an organization’s tech stack. User adoption is one component, but change management encompasses the broader scope of planning, implementing, and measuring the success of change.

 Sonar’s change management approach

At Sonar, we think of change management as the process through which you enact any significant modifications to the tech stack that go-to-market (GTM) teams use. Because so many teams rely on Salesforce as the centerpiece of their tech stack, most changes revolve around it. We understand first-hand how a lack of visibility into the dependencies of key fields, forms, and objects in Salesforce can lead to costly errors. Implementing change management protocols can completely eliminate those risks. 

What it means for teams operating in Salesforce

Change management is essential for teams using Salesforce. The CRM is powerful and complex — and endlessly customizable. But it’s also ripe for errors. For Salesforce users, it’s the center of the tech stack, with other systems relying on it for data that drives automations and empowers GTM teams to better connect with prospects, leads, and customers. Salesforce change management enables RevOps teams to improve results and mitigate the risks of change. 

How change management affects organizations

The better an organization is at change management, the more effective their change initiatives are:


of organizations with excellent change management programs say their projects meet or exceed objectives, while only 15% of those with poor change management programs report success.


with excellent change management programs say their projects stay on or ahead of schedule, compared to only 15% of those with poor programs.


of those who excel in change management say their projects come in on or under budget, while only 49% of those with poor programs meet budget objectives.

The research shows that even those with fair or good change management programs significantly outpace poor programs in every key area. Following established protocols for planning and executing change enables teams to be more efficient by getting it right the first time. This means they can spend more time assessing the impact of their change project and moving on to the next important project. 

What are the key concepts in change management?

What makes for excellent change management? It starts by embracing the concepts that set the foundation for any effective change management program. 

Change management relies on meticulous planning.

Change management relies on meticulous planning. It can be tempting to overlook the planning stage of a change project. But failing to plan can lead to poor user adoption, unforeseen errors, and lack of alignment between key stakeholders. Poor planning can also cause roadblocks in the execution of the change project

Implementing change can stress ops teams that are already juggling a heavy workload, and it can bring existing process and communication issues to the surface. The planning stage allows you to work out all the kinks upfront:

  • What changes are you making, and why?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of the team overseeing the change?
  • Who should be informed about the change project, and when?
  • How will you measure the success of the project?

Upfront planning can save a tremendous amount of time on the backend. And since risk mitigation is a key reason for implementing change management, the plan is vital to maintaining control over your project. 

To reduce risk in the planning stages, your change management plan should include Change Intelligence, which is an awareness of the impacts of your change. Normally, making operational changes is a guessing game. You have to rely on your memory or outdated documentation to determine how your planned changes will impact your data, systems, and automations. Change Intelligence tools empower you to prepare for the downstream impacts of your changes, which greatly reduces risk.

Poor communication is often the cause of failed change initiatives.

Poor communication is often the cause of failed change initiatives. Whether the communication failure occurs between members of the team leading the change project or with leadership or users, communication issues often lead to mistakes and frustration. Developing an impactful communication plan must be a central aspect of any change management program. 

According to Gartner, the accelerating pace of change within businesses creates what they call “change fatigue.” Nearly three-quarters of employees impacted by change report high levels of stress. That stress leads to disengagement, errors, and performance issues. 

So, what does that have to do with communication? Change fatigue is often a result of feeling caught off guard. When users feel like they know what’s coming and why, they’re more likely to feel comfortable with change. If the change has the potential to create headaches for users (such as the sunsetting of a popular feature or tool), communication is even more critical. It’s better to rip off the band-aid, so to speak, so users don’t feel left in the dark.

A change management project isn't complete when modifications go live.

A change management project isn’t complete when modifications go live. Measuring and monitoring the impact of the change enables you to understand whether users are acclimating to it. It also allows you to demonstrate the value of the change to the business as a whole. Failing to measure and monitor the impact of change is a missed opportunity, as these insights are critical to informing future change initiatives. 

To help define which key performance indicators (KPIs) you should track for your change management project, take some cues from the way IT departments track and measure change. Some of the metrics they track include:

  • Communication effectiveness: How are users interacting with your communications? Are they opening your emails? If so, can you track how long they keep them open to determine their engagement? You can also survey them on the effectiveness of your communication. 
  • Training effectiveness: Do users feel like your training prepared them for the new changes? You can use surveys, feedback forums, and even aptitude tests to measure training effectiveness.
  • User adoption: Tracking adoption rates can be as simple as pulling utilization reports from your systems or checking to see if automations are running correctly. It all depends on which changes were made. 

Once your changes are live, your KPIs will let you know if you made the right modifications and whether you made them correctly. Leveraging the insights from your KPIs will allow you to iterate and improve your change management practices moving forward. 

To successfully incorporate these concepts in their practices, many teams designate a change agent to lead change management and oversee the planning, communication, and measurement of change. 

Change management should be a part of any significant update to your tech stack.

You should implement change management any time you make a significant update to your tech stack or undergo an IT project. You should also implement change management as part of your regular release schedule. Release management best practices help funnel user requests and minor ad hoc changes into a regular process. Aside from your regular releases, you can also incorporate change management into major projects, such as:

  • Salesforce data migrations
  • Changes to custom objects
  • System upgrades
  • GIS and contact information field or format changes
  • Workflow and process integrations or updates that impact users in multiple departments

Additionally, any changes that require user training or lead to potential downtime should follow change management protocols. Learn more about when to implement change management and why it should be a part of every significant update to your tech stack. 

What is a change management plan?

Effective change management comes down to planning. From the prioritization of changes to the communication plan to the KPIs you use to measure your change project, everything should be incorporated into your plan. Ideally, your plan is centralized in a location where all stakeholders have visibility into it.

Creating a plan is the first step you should take in implementing your change management process. Without the plan, you risk misalignment and miscommunication among your team.

Why change management matters to operations

One of the many lessons learned from 2020 is that agility is critical. When the pandemic brought normal GTM operations to a halt, RevOps teams had to quickly implement changes that made virtual interactions feasible and manageable. Those capable of agile change management had an edge. 

Even when we’re not in the middle of a massive disruption, RevOps teams must constantly improve the processes and systems that support the day-to-day work of GTM teams. That’s why RevOps teams must be proficient in change management.

RevOps teams bring unique knowledge and insights to marketing operations that traditional marketing teams may lack. That knowledge makes them qualified to contribute new ideas to help marketing use their budget, resources, and tools more wisely. 

The same can be said for sales operations. Virtual sales have become the status quo for many organizations. RevOps teams play a vital role in identifying and implementing the strategies that make digital selling successful. Marketing and sales ops teams that leverage change management can bring those ideas to reality and demonstrate their effectiveness. 

It’s important for RevOps teams to be especially proficient in change management since they work with all of the various departments that comprise the entire GTM organization. They often work on projects that involve teams outside of the GTM organization, such as the integration of a new ERP with Salesforce. Because their work has the potential to impact such a diverse set of users, change management should be central to their processes. 

How to know it's working

As we mentioned before, your change management plan should include KPIs that you use to measure the effectiveness of your strategy and execution. In addition to establishing the KPIs, you’ll also need to determine how you’ll measure them, at which frequency, and who is responsible for maintaining that data. 

Perhaps the easiest way to gauge your effectiveness is to talk to users. Are they frustrated by the changes? Do they understand why they were made? If the changes caused some disruption for users, are they experiencing any lingering impacts?

Another way to monitor the effectiveness of your plan is through your team’s internal alignment. Was everyone clear on their roles and responsibilities? Were all team members in agreement (or at least understanding) on why certain changes were prioritized over others? Discord amongst the team leading the change project is a clear sign that there are gaps in your planning. 

Frequently asked questions

What is change management?

Change management is a method that enables you to manage risk, encourage user adoption, and measure the success of any major change project. It’s an approach that allows you to understand the people, tools, and processes involved in your change project. 

How does change management work?

Change management works by establishing and executing a well-documented plan. A key component of change management is communication – within the ops team and with users and leaders impacted by the change. Change management helps you establish processes and clear lines of responsibility for communication, technical tasks, decision-making, and monitoring the outcomes of your project.

What Salesforce platforms help with change management?

Several platforms support change management. Deployment tools provide an alternative to Salesforce’s native change sets. API connectors and data migration tools make it easy to move important data accurately. And Change Intelligence tools like Sonar give you insight into the impact of changes before you make them.

How should you plan for change management?

To plan for change management, you must consider the many stages of your project. This Salesforce change management resource provides step-by-step guidance on what to consider as you create your change management plan.

What is the cadence of change management?

Change management should be applied whenever you implement a significant change or update your tech stack. To implement change at the right pace, take an agile approach, breaking down changes into manageable chunks. If you need to pivot, you can do so easily.

Where does change management fail?

Change management typically fails with communication. Oftentimes, users feel caught off guard by changes, and therefore unprepared to adapt to them. But when end users are invested in change, projects are 30% more likely to be successful. Early, clear communications and training are vital to meeting the objectives of the change project.

How can change management be evaluated?

Change management should be evaluated through measuring KPIs and monitoring user feedback and adoption. Through this evaluation, you can iterate and improve your change management planning and execution.

What are the 5 key elements of successful change management?

The five key elements of successful change management for RevOps are:

  • Alignment — all stakeholders should be in agreement on what is being changed, the process in which changes will be made, and why.
  • Planning — change should be thoughtfully implemented to reduce the likelihood of errors and frustration. 
  • Communication everyone impacted by the change should be aware that it’s coming, and what to expect. 
  • Execution the process of implementing change should follow the steps outlined in the plan. 
  • Measurement — the effectiveness of change should be assessed by talking to users, monitoring adoption, and tracking alignment amongst the team.

What are the 3 Cs of change management?

The three Cs of change management are commonly seen as critical factors to ensuring change management success. They are:

  1. Communicate — ensure all stakeholders know what is changing and why. 
  2. Collaborate — bring together the right people to enact the change.
  3. Commit — ensure that your behaviors support the change. For example, if you’re transitioning a team to a new process for managing requests, it’s important that you adhere to the process as well. 

What is an example of change management?

Release management is an example of change management. The process includes evaluating potential changes, planning their rollout, communicating to stakeholders, implementing changes, and assessing their effectiveness when done. Other scenarios that involve change management include reorgs, mergers and acquisitions, and recovering after a crisis. All of these scenarios require formalized planning and implementation to successfully transition.

What are the 7 Rs of change management?

I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

The seven Rs of change management is a framework for assessing change developed by the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). They are: 

    1. Who raised the change?
    2. What is the reason for the change?
    3. What is the return required from the change?
    4. What are the risks of the change?
    5. What resources do we need?
    6. Who is responsible for implementation?
    7. What is the relationship between the change and other changes?

The seven R’s can be used to guide your change control strategies so you can evaluate whether changes are necessary in the first place.  

Takeaway 1: Significant modifications require change management

Planning ensures you’re making the right changes for the right reasons, key stakeholders are aligned, and users understand how they’ll be impacted. Reactionary changes, such as user requests, should be funneled into a regular release schedule so you can systematically apply change management methodologies.

Takeaway 2: Communication can make or break a change project

Ideally, change management provides a framework that gives key stakeholders visibility into the change project. Communicating with and training users must be an important consideration from the beginning of the process. When users are aware of upcoming changes and know which new practices or procedures they need to adopt, they’re more likely to adapt.

Takeaway 3: Change projects must be monitored and measured

When you push your changes live, you can take a break – but only a quick one. Your work isn’t done. The next step is to gather user feedback, track KPIs, and monitor your systems for unforeseen errors. This data helps validate the success of your project and inform future change initiatives. 

Change Management in Salesforce is easier with Sonar

As the only Change Intelligence tool made for RevOps teams, Sonar gives you insight into the impact of change before you make it. With Sonar, you can see the dependencies of items right from inside Salesforce. Plus, Sonar automatically tracks changes, including who made them and when, so you have an accurate record to use for knowledge sharing and investigating broken processes.