How to Build An Effective Organizational Change Management Team

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: May 17, 2023

Assembling the appropriate organizational change team for a digital transformation is crucial. Today, I will discuss how to define and structure this team for effective organizational change management, ensuring ultimate success.

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Establishing the appropriate change management team with well-defined roles and responsibilities acts as the cohesive element that connects people, processes, and technology in a digital transformation.

What is a change management team

To illustrate my point, let's consider the following scenario. Often, organizations start at a certain point, which we'll refer to as the "as-is" state. Your goal is to transition them to the desired "to-be" (2B) state. This is where computers, automation, and other elements come into play. The important thing is that your future state encompasses various aspects, such as computers, robots, artificial intelligence, process changes, and organizational changes.

Now, the question arises: How do we move your hundreds or thousands of employees from the as-is state to the 2B state? The answer lies in change management. Change management is the crucial factor that connects the dots and facilitates the transition from point A to point B.

Many organizations make the assumption that if they implement new technology and provide training on the new processes, people will naturally adapt to the changes. However, this rarely happens. That's why we need a change management team to guide individuals throughout the entire journey. It's important to note that affecting change from a people perspective often takes more time than from a technological or process perspective.

So, the question remains: How do we build the right change management team, and what roles should be included on that team?

The Executive Sponsor

The first role in the change management team is the executive sponsor, who can be considered the most important person. This individual must have a clear understanding of the change and how it will be implemented. They are responsible for establishing the vision for the change. The executive sponsor serves as the face of the change and often defines the direction and overall strategy. Their involvement is crucial in defining the future state (2B) from an operational decision-making perspective.

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The Change Agents

Apart from the executive sponsor, the change management team also requires change agents. These individuals are typically internal employees who work within the organization. Their role involves diving into the details and frontline operations to facilitate and enable the change process. Change agents directly interact with the hundreds or thousands of employees in the organization, driving them from the current state to the future state.

They often hold positions as process leads and are well-respected within the organization. They possess a deep understanding of the organization, which has been built over time, establishing their credibility. Importantly, they have the ability to envision alternative possibilities and are enthusiastic about the change. These change agents excel in communication, possess influence within the organization, and maintain an optimistic outlook. They are skilled at conveying the message and vision to the organization, playing a vital role in bridging the gap between the executive sponsor's vision and achieving tangible outcomes. Although they may not be directly managed by the executive sponsor, they are heavily influenced by the sponsor's vision and direction.

The Change Lead

In day-to-day operations of the transformation, the change agents work within the framework of a comprehensive change strategy and a broader change team. Typically, there is a designated change lead within the organization, supplemented by an external third party with expertise in change management, such as Third Stage Consulting. Our specialization lies in change management, and we can assist in fulfilling this role and provide coaching for the internal change lead.

It is essential that the change lead is ultimately accountable to someone within the organization. This responsibility can fall under various departments, including HR, learning and development, or even operations. In some cases, organizations appoint a senior operational or finance professional who possesses a strong understanding of the business and relevant skills to serve as the change lead. This individual may have prior experience in complex organizational changes. Regardless of the specific circumstances, it is crucial to have a change lead who ensures that the change agents operate within the overall change plan in addition to their own responsibilities.

change management team plan downloadable template

Downloadable team change management template: click here.

The Communications Team

Another crucial role within the change management team is the communications lead or communications team. These individuals are responsible for drafting and disseminating targeted communications to various stakeholders using different communication channels, such as emails, videos, bulletin board postings, or in-person meetings. The communications team works in collaboration with the executive sponsor and the change lead to ensure the messaging aligns with the organization's future state vision.

It is important to note that the focus should not be solely on technology but rather on the business transformation itself. The communications should emphasize why the organization is undergoing the change and how digital technology enables that transformation. While technology serves as an enabler, the primary focus should be on the future state of the business and its transformation.

Additionally, the change management team typically includes a training lead or a training team. This role may be fulfilled by one person or a group of individuals responsible for facilitating training. Training is an extensive process that often requires customization of generic training materials provided by software vendors or technology providers to align them with the organization's specific needs. Once the training materials are tailored, there is a need for individuals who can execute the implementation of the training. It is advisable to involve change agents, stakeholders, process leads, and other project team members to act as facilitators of the training, ensuring it reaches the organization effectively.

In addition to the mentioned roles, there are various other positions that different team members can assume and contribute value to the change process.

One crucial role within the change management team is the change impact analyst. This role is responsible for identifying and defining the gaps between the current state (as is) and the desired future state (to be) of the organization. While technology providers and system integrators are primarily focused on building the technology, it is the responsibility of the organizational change team to understand and address the impacts on processes, roles, responsibilities, and other areas affected by the change. This task is typically carried out by a combination of change agents, stakeholders, and core members of the change management team. Defining the change impacts is essential for effectively communicating the transition to each individual and work group within the organization.

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It is crucial to note that the scope of change impacts varies based on the number of employees within the organization. Each person is affected differently by the change, requiring a targeted and specific definition of the impacts. Clear communication of these impacts is vital for facilitating the change process.

Integrating change management with the overall project management team is essential. The Project Management Office (PMO), process leads, architects, integration specialists, and system integrator resources form part of the larger transformation team. The alignment of change management activities with the PMO ensures that change management is not treated as an isolated function but is integrated into the overall project. By incorporating change activities into the inner workings of the project and weaving them into the program, change management becomes an integral part of the transformation, minimizing the risk of it being neglected or overlooked.

This overview should give you a starting point for considering the various roles and responsibilities and how to structure your change management team. Keep in mind that there are additional aspects to explore and further details to flesh out when building your project team.

I would enjoy brainstorming ideas with you if you are looking to strategize an upcoming transformation or are looking at selecting an ERP system, so please feel free to contact me at I am happy to be a sounding board as you continue your digital transformation journey.

Be sure to download the newly released 2023 Digital Transformation Report to garner additional industry insight and project best practices.

Kimberling Eric Blue Backgroundv2
Eric Kimberling

Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.

Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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