15 steps to implementing an effective change programme

15 steps to implementing an effective change programme

Conducting a change programme across a business or organisation is a complex process.

It involves careful and considered planning, communication, and implementation.

Would you like a handy infographic that maps out the 15 stages?

You can get it here! 👇

Change Programme Infographic

Here’s an overview on how to manage and implement step-by-step guide on how to a change programme.

Identify the Need for Change

This may sound obvious, but getting really clear on the reason the change is needed will help guide all subsequent focus and decision-making.

An example would be a manufacturing company that has been facing increased customer complaints due to declining product quality. The company takes the time to conduct an extensive analysis, which identifies the clear need to implement a quality improvement programme.

Define Clear Objectives

There’s no benefit to shooting from the hip and hoping for the best, your decisions need to be informed by clear objectives agreed on by decision makers and the broader team.

For example, the company’s objective is to reduce product defects by 20% within the next year and improve customer satisfaction scores by 15%.

This is a clear, concise objective that can be easily expressed to – and understood by – the whole company.

Create a Change Team

It’s vital that you form a change team that combines members of all teams or departments. By doing this, you’ll be approaching all decisions in a transparent, holistic way that draws on insights and experiences from all aspects of the business.

For example, your change team might comprise of leadership, production, customer service and quality control. The point is to represent key voices from each team or department.

Develop a Change Strategy

Having a clear strategy is key. Keep returning to your objective/s and consider the most effective way to achieve them. For example, you may implement a Total Quality Management (TQM) system, followed by employee training, and regular quality control checks.

Communicate the Vision and Plan

15 steps to implementing an effective change programme

To be effective, it’s essential you communicate both the vision and plan for the change programme. This means openly sharing your objectives, strategies and, crucially, the anticipated benefits. Always communicate your why, what and how of change. Arcadis did this effectively with their Maximising Our Impact strategy – a clear why; a clear what and clear how.

Engage Stakeholders

We all know how important it is to engage stakeholders in any significant change and developments within an organisation.

The first step should be to task the change team with conducting focus groups and surveys. The aim is to gather input from employees, customers, and suppliers to ensure their perspectives are considered throughout the change process.

Allocate Resources

Depending on the what the change process will involve, you will need to allocate various budgets to cover things like training, equipment, and process improvement initiatives. It’s also prudent to allocate specific personnel to oversee and support these efforts.

Implement the Change!

If we stick with our initial example of the manufacturing company needing to implement a quality improvement programme, the initial phase of the change process would be to start training employees in TQM principles and new quality control processes.

Then, these changes would be gradually integrated on the production floor.

Monitor and Measure Progress

This is a vital stage of the process. You need to be able to support and prove your decision to implement these changes, so KPIs should be closely monitored.

Our manufacturing company might begin regular quality audits to measure the reduction in defects and improvements in customer satisfaction.

Address Resistance and Barriers

This is a big one.

You must be aware of and in tune with how your employees are feeling amidst the change process.

Some may instinctively resist the change because they’re worried about losing their job, others may resist it because they feel unsettled by the new processes which undermine their previous confidence in their roles.

Remember the change curve. It holds true. Some employees will be further through the curve of change than others.

It can be complex and nuanced, so ensuring regular feedback sessions that proactively address their concerns is crucial.

Celebrate Small Wins

Resist the temptation to focus solely on the big end goal and instead, celebrate the steps that are positively leading towards to your overall goal.

For example, our manufacturing company achieves a 10% reduction in defects within the first quarter. They celebrate this milestone with a rewards and recognition event for employees who contributed to the improvement. NatWest celebrated a return to profit by gifting all employees an extra day of holiday and then encouraged people to use that day to see family, volunteer or help a good cause – reinforcing their commitment to championing potential for people, families, and business.

Adjust the Plan as Necessary

Be prepared to be flexible. If your monitoring and measurement efforts highlight aspects of the process that are failing to yield the desired results, take some time to reassess the strategy. Don’t be afraid to adjust as you go, if it’s informed by reliable data and insights, then be bold.

Sustain the Change

Don’t let all your efforts go to waste! Ensure you’ve got things in place to support and sustain the changes you’ve made.

For example, the manufacturing company institutionalises the new quality standards and practices, ensuring they become part of the organisational culture. They also continue to monitor performance and make ongoing improvements.

Communicate Success

You’ve made – and sustained – the change, now to let the people that matter know!

After a year of impactful change, be sure to communicate the success by highlighting the positive impact on your KPIs to your stakeholders.

Learn and Iterate

There’s no time for complacency after a successful change, you must continue to listen and learn to inform ongoing iteration. Make time to conduct a post-implementation review to identify lessons learned and areas for improvement in managing future change initiatives.

💡 Remember: change programmes can vary widely depending on the natre of the business or organisation, and the specific goals of the change. Flexibility, communication, and strong leadership are essential throughout the process.


🔎 Let’s take a look at a famously well-executed change programme by IBM.

Throughout its history, IBM has undergone various transformational changes. One notable change programme in recent years is their shift towards becoming a leader in cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

Using the fifteen-points outlined above, we can breakdown each stage to see how IBM achieved their goals…


15 steps to implementing an effective change programme


IBM’s Transformation to Cloud and AI

  1. Identify the Need for Change ✔️

IBM Consulting recognised the need to adapt to the changing technology landscape. Traditional hardware and software sales were declining, and there was a growing demand for cloud-based solutions and AI technologies. They recognised that reskilling their people would have a better cost benefit than recruiting people with the skills they needed.

  1. Define Clear Objectives ✔️

IBM Consulting set objectives to become a dominant player in the cloud computing market, with a goal to lead in AI and cognitive computing. Reskill 13,000 employees and grow market share.

  1. Create a Change Team ✔️

They formed specialised teams to focus on cloud services and AI. Each team was made up of experts in the fields of cloud services and AI. The HR functions were focused on an EVP that was all about future skills.

  1. Develop a Change Strategy ✔️

They invested heavily in building and acquiring cloud infrastructure and services, such as the acquisition of SoftLayer for cloud infrastructure and Red Hat for open-source technology expertise. This underpinned their credibility as cloud consultants.

  1. Communicate the Vision and Plan ✔️

IBM’s CEO at the time, Ginni Rometty, communicated the transformation strategy to employees, clients, and shareholders through various channels. That push on reskilling was reiterated by the new CEO, Arvind Krishna. There was an emphasis on the company’s commitment to innovation, showing intentions for the future of the business.

  1. Engage Stakeholders ✔️

IBM Consulting engaged with clients, partners, and industry experts to gather insights and feedback. This ensured their offerings met market needs. The importance of reskilling was emphasized in all the internal communications, with career pathways made more explicit and accessible.

  1. Allocate Resources ✔️

Significant resources were given to research and development in cloud computing and AI, as well as to marketing and sales efforts to promote their new services.

  1. Implement the Change ✔️

A range of cloud services was launched, including IBM Cloud and IBM Watson, their AI platform. They also began migrating existing clients to cloud-based solutions.

  1. Monitor and Measure Progress ✔️

Key performance indicators were closely monitored, relating to cloud revenue, AI adoption, employee and customer satisfaction.

  1. Address Resistance and Barriers ✔️

While IBM Consulting encountered resistance from some employees who were more comfortable and familiar with the traditional business model. To support these employees, they offered training and development opportunities to upskill as well as careers festivals to inspire employees to try something new.

  1. Celebrate Small Wins ✔️

Milestones such as winning major cloud contracts and achieving breakthroughs in AI research were celebrated as they happened, keeping the momentum and motivation moving.

  1. Adjust the Plan as Necessary ✔️ 

To remain competitive, IBM Consulting adjusted its strategy in response to market feedback and changes in technology trends.

  1. Sustain the Change ✔️

The organisation continues to innovate and invest in cloud and AI technologies to maintain its leadership position.

  1. Communicate Success ✔️

Success stories and case studies are regularly shared, highlighting how their cloud and AI solutions have positively impacted clients across various industries.

  1. Learn and Iterate ✔️

IBM continuously learns from experiences and customer feedback which help to refine its offerings and strategies.


This is a great example of how a large, established company can successfully adapt to changing markets and technology trends by implementing a comprehensive change programme.

Change Programme Infographic


⭐ How we support brands with change programmes ⭐

At The Team, we have a long history of helping brands like IBM, NatWest and bp to help them implement successful change communication programes.

Back in 2018/19, TSB experienced a significant IT failure. Our team of experts were were brought onboard to guide and support employees and managers through a process of listening and responding to needs, as IT changes were introduced across the bank.

When HSBC introduced Agile and DevOps working practices, they asked The Team to develop a narrative and campaign that could be used to support all the communication that went from the business to employees.These simple narratives act as a red thread that run through everything that the business communicates.

If you’d like us to support your change programme, get in touch.

Let’s make change happen!