Managing Change: Small, Medium and Large

All change projects are not created the same. Some are the equivalent of throwing a pebble into a pond and create ripples. Others equate to rolling a boulder into a pond and make big waves in terms of how much they disrupt the business. Your change team should adapt their approach and deliverables accordingly.


A large change project needs a full suite of change deliverables and may require a dedicated change team to help ensure business readiness at go-live and beyond.

These deliverables may include, but are not limited to:

  • Stakeholder analysis to identify all of the parties who care about the change project because something will be different for them/their team as a result. Will they work differently? Will they use a new system? Will they hand off the product in a new way? Will they interface with customers differently? Does their pay change?
  • Impact assessment to compare the current state (as is) to the future state (to be) based on the new business processes. The extent of the gap created determines communication and training requirements.
  • Communication plan outlines who needs to be communicated with, when, how (which channels) and by whom (the sender of the messages). Then the content must be created to implement this plan and adapt as you go.
  • Training approach explains how those who need to be trained in new ways of working will learn how to do their jobs differently before go live. Also, how will they be supported on an ongoing basis (ex: How will new hires learn who join the company or department later?)? Then the content must be created to bring this training approach to life.
  • Change network of individuals in the business at various sites/locations who can provide feedback on what’s working well and where adjustments need to be made to increase effectiveness. It’s naïve to think your plan made at the beginning of the project won’t require adjustments along the way!
  • Business readiness checklists ensure each site /location in the field is prepared before systems and or processes change. The people must be ready, as well as the physical environment, such as equipment installation, supplies provisioned and connectivity tested and re-tested.


When your change project is medium sized, it likely impacts fewer locations or does not cause as much disruption to day-to-day operations as the “boulder” scenario described above. One dedicated change team member can likely support the project sufficiently.

As a result, you might only require a skinny version of the deliverables listed, or you might be able to skip some of them altogether. For example, perhaps you could rely only on communications instead of having to train users on a new system, OR you may not need a change network.

In this situation, you might also successfully partner with other internal departments throughout the company, such as Corporate Communications/Marketing or a Training/Learning Department.


With a small change project, a part-time resource can support the change and communications. A short list of change deliverables focused on a brief impact assessment and a communications plan rise to the top of the priorities.

However, often companies bundle several small change projects together to implement all at once. When this happens, several small projects together become medium or even large in terms of effect on the business or on the employee/customer experience.

When that happens, more change and communications support are required to minimize disruption to business operations.

Betsy Winkler is a Partner at PeopleResults. She can be reached on Twitter @BetsyWinkler1