Your company is planning on improving its digital presence and online services. You have been appointed as the Product Owner. Development Team is getting ready to go. UX designers are in love with their fresh ideas and want to get their hands dirty. Business stakeholders are expecting results ASAP. Delivering an exceptional service is not enough. You need to support service adoption to make the investment pay off. As a Product Owner you will most likely want to:
Involve the stakeholder groups, keep them up to date on progress and deal with possible change resistance.
Recognize the relevant PR, marketing and content creation tasks, and get them done.
Figure out the necessary updates in internal and external processes and put them into use.
Possibly organize training for customer service people.
Development Team is defining future changes in an agile and iterative way, so your chances of correctly predicting the required actions upfront are relatively slim. The change management approach should fit together with the way the Development Team is working.
How about putting together an agile Change Team to work in sync with the Development Team?
An optimal Change Team is made up of people from across the organisation: stakeholders, communications specialists and people who really know the company's processes, business and culture. The practice of involving stakeholders, especially ones that resist change the most, has been key in the success of many of our projects. These projects scored not only in the technical and user experience sense, but also in organisational service adoption and change management.
The first task of a new Change Team is to choose a way of working that all the people involved can commit to. The key is to find a solution that keeps the teams in sync and responsive to each other. This is especially true in projects where there are more than one Development Team building the system: a pro-active Change Team along with its communicative nature can be a critical element of success.
Planning ahead appropriately, keeping the big picture in mind and focusing on getting things done one by one requires quite a bit of discipline and very open, up-to-date and visual communication.
Your Change Team will get a great start by
Creating a change roadmap on the project room's wall for everyone to see
Setting up an effortlessly available backlog and task board for all the team to use
Initiating daily stand-ups
Encouraging co-location to support team building, timely communication and responsiveness
A roadmap of the change is actually nothing more or less than a change plan. The first version is an educated guess on a relatively high level of details. As the project progresses through consepting, design and development, learning happens. This learning influences the vision of the journey from the old service to the new service. The plan of that journey is updated and refined accordingly.
The goal of the change management is to make the transition between services as smooth as possible for end-users, their support personnel and other stakeholders, including business. But what makes a smooth transition? Change Team's ambitions should include timely communication with relevant content, the capability for respectful interaction with stakeholders and an empathetic mind towards the concerns of everyone who is affected paves a good beginning.
If you've had a change team or similar practices in your projects, we'd love to hear your insights.