10 Tools Every Change Pro Needs
Aug 19, 2019
I believe change should be simple, transparent and effective. What helps in that mission is having a good set of tools. Here at 10 tools every change pro should seriously consider adopting for a successful change project.
The 10 Essential Tools I Recommend Every Change Pro Has In Their Toolkit
Tool #1: The Change Heat Map
- The Change Heat Map is a vital tool for assessing how engaged your users are throughout your project and what you need to change to improve it.
- It looks at the journey through change as different users go from:
Unaware of the change > aware > engaged > trained >
internalizing and fully supporting the change as their own
- It maps the phases across a number of different user areas so you have a month-by-month picture of how users are changing along the journey of change.
- Understand which areas are lagging behind
- Understand in which areas you need to provide more information
- Shows patterns so you can spot tactics that are/aren’t working well across the board
- Spot areas of the company where you need to pay more attention, or speak to people and find out exactly what the situation is
- Allows for people’s differing paces and styles of working
Tool #2: The Wall of Truth
- The Wall of Truth methodology allows you to bring stakeholders with diverse views and profoundly different positions on your change project together to be heard, understood and respected.
“Respect is vital when thinking about the diverse views of stakeholders. Too often we jump in and try to create harmony and find a middle ground. In fact, we jump so soon, that the individual positions get lost and people feel as if they haven't been adequately heard. This can lead to significant stakeholder issues later.”
- An easy tool that uses standard flip charts and whiteboards, The Wall of Truth works for small groups of three or four people up to larger groups of 20
- Interactive and powerful in generating understanding of the different positions in the room
- Brings stakeholders together and ensures problems don’t arise later on.
Tool #3: Project Management Plan
- Most change projects have a huge project management plan that covers every eventuality that (if we’re being honest) once written, is put on the shelf. Because it’s not a living document used throughout the project, it’s of no value.
- The project management plan I advocate for is one you can utilise everyday. You only need a slim volume with information which is genuinely pertinent and will genuinely help you manage your project consistently.
- Think ‘less is more’ when it comes to project management plans.
Tool #4: Health-check MOT
- The Health-check MOT looks at project performance and assesses how healthy the project is and compares it with a minimum acceptable score based on the maturity of the project.
- When a project is in the early stages, there's lots of uncertainties and therefore a wider range of health-check scores are appropriate. But as a project matures, there should be a reduction in the differential on the project health as predictability increases.
- The health check MOT looks at milestones, benefits and risks and gives you a score about the health of your project. Aiming for 100% isn’t either realistic or desirable all of the time, but you definitely don’t want your score to be 20 or 30%.
- I recommend using The Health-check MOT on a monthly basis to assess the ongoing progress of your project. It might be that your project is ahead of schedule, but as a consequence of rushing, some steps have been skipped and you're storing up problems for later. The first place you might see this is on your Health-check score.
- Spot problems early so you can course-correct
- Identify which area is bringing your health score down so that you know which you should prioritise to have the maximum effect.
Tool #5: Monthly Dashboard
- Just as the mantra ‘less is more’ is true for your Project Management Plan, so too is it for the Monthly Dashboard.
- It may sound old-school, but there is power in a humble A3 piece of paper showing the current progress of your project. The trick is to carry it around with you so you can quickly show your stakeholders, sponsors or senior users how your project is going.
- Quick and easy to produce and aids in communication with stakeholders
- By focussing on just the key areas of project performance gives you as the project manager a much clearer focus on what you need to deal with to solve problems coming up in your project.
Tool #6: Milestones
- An interactive milestone schedule is a must for every change project.
- While schedules are important, I don't think it always serves Change professionals to plan to a detailed level for all projects.
- Some change projects can be managed adequately just at a milestone level and benefit from a more agile approach which is enabled by less detailed scheduling.
- Understand broadly where you are against the schedule
- Understand where you might need to speed up and slow down
Tool #7: Milestone Definition Sheets
- A milestone definition sheet isn’t a boring piece of admin, but a simple and effective tool for expressing what the milestone is, what the criteria will be for it to be successful and what it needs to go through the next gateway.
- Ever been through a gateway believing everyone is on the same page, with all the sponsors and stakeholders signing off on the next milestone, only to realise months later that people's perceptions have changed? A milestone definition sheet stops that happening.
- A milestone definition sheet helps focus the minds of both the project team and stakeholders and sponsors on what is a necessary and a sufficient condition for the project to pass through a gateway
- Prevents problems and misunderstandings further down the line
Tool #8: V Lifecycle
- Everything you need to explain your project on one page! From understanding why it is needed, what the scope is and what it will deliver.
- In the early initiation stage of a project is when the majority of misunderstandings occur; The V Lifecycle helps you pay attention to various levels of detail now to save problems further down the road.
- The V Lifecycle has a number of different pieces of information on one sheet:
- Statement of need - ‘The Big Why’
- Details about requirements and success criteria
- Outputs - Specific deliverables
- Outcomes (softer things you might struggle to measure, but are positive and deserve recognition)
- Specific benefits of the project
- High level scope needed to deliver it all
- Creates clarity and consensus
- Good document to carry around to help explain the project to stakeholders
- Good use of time which speeds up the project
- Stops issues cropping up later on
Tool #9: The Business Plan
- A bit like the Project Management Plan, a Business Plan is something that exists to some extent in lots of change projects right now. However, it doesn't exist very well in them.
- The single purpose of the Business Plan should be to work out what you’re going to do and whether it's worthwhile doing it:
- What's the cost of the action?
- What are the benefits of the action?
- What’s the return on investment (ROI) for all aspects?
- Have you factored in external costs and internal time when considering whether the investment is going to be worthwhile?
- Understand the ROI of the option chosen to solve a business problem
- Stop work on projects where the ROI is not what is required by the business
Tool #10: The Benefits Realiser
- The Benefits Realiser is a fundamental tool that starts at the beginning of a project when you set your target and ends long after the project is finished. It’s a golden thread of ALL the benefits of your project, not just financial.
- Having a clear scope of benefits means you don’t have to wait until the end of your project to work out how successful you were.
- The Benefits Realiser offers step by step guidance to squeezing the most out of every change project, including both harder benefits and softer outcomes.
There you have it,10 tools that I believe you shouldn't be managing your change project without. After reading this, can you spot gaps in your own toolkit that really need to be filled?
You can get your hands on all 10 of these tools (and more!) as part of my Change Maker Programme. We’re in pre-launch at the moment and go live on 1st September but you can get all of this for £99, with lifetime access NOW. After 1 September, you’ll pay monthly (so no lifetime access) and the price goes up. If you want to talk about the toolkit, or any aspect of the Change Maker Programme and whether it’s right for you, send me a DM and let’s chat.
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