Digital Transformation

5 Change Management Strategies for Digital Transformation

Look to these five change management strategies when trying to implement new initiatives in your organization.

Blog Post

9 minute read

Apr 10, 2024

Change management is a systematic process that guides organizations through selecting and implementing major internal changes designed to better the business. This can include technological evolutions, major pivots to offerings, or even shifts in the organization’s architecture.  

Change management involves handling the introduction of new technologies, the sudden appearance of new opportunities, and shifts in the way consumers interact with brands.  

Employees may be reluctant to “try new things.” It can be tough to secure a budget as decision-makers may not see the need to update processes that seem like they’re already working. And even if you do get influential stakeholders on board, it might be difficult to lock them down for the volume of bandwidth actually needed.  

The ability to adapt to change is becoming a critical element of survival for many businesses in the digital transformation landscape.   

The following sections walk through a variety of tried-and-true change management strategies that drastically reduce the guess-work in pursuing a full-fledged digital transformation in the modern era.

  1. Start from the top
  2. Make sure the change is necessary and desirable
  3. Minimize disruption
  4. Promote communication
  5. Recognize that change is the norm, not the exception

Don’t just manage change at your organization, increase its speed to see the benefits more quickly. Check out Impact’s eBook, Fast-Tracking Your Digital Transformation, to learn how you can get the ball rolling with digital transformation initiatives. 

What Is a Change Management Strategy?

A change management strategy is a defined framework and set of protocols that organizations can rely on when making fundamental shifts to internal operations, goals, or technologies to ease the implementation for staff at all levels and increase its chance of success.  

By creating a comprehensive change management strategy for your organization, you can set expectations around major operational changes, create incremental implementation plans, and set up a variety of checkpoints at which you can measure, assess, and adjust the change as necessary.

One of the main purposes of a change management strategy is to give organizational leaders, as well as their employees, a formal framework that guides them through major business pivots and advancements with a higher rate of success. 

The Goals of Change Management 

Unlike project management—where it’s easy to point to schedules, tangible objectives, and specific outcomes—change management follows a more reactive and indefinite route. 

What change management looks like may vary from organization to organization, but all strategies will share three primary goals: 

  1. Improve the bottom line. All digital transformation-related changes should be installed to improve the efficiency and productivity of your workforce. Whether it’s the technology to better communicate between departments or the tools to carry out skilled design work effectively, every change should help your employees do their work better and faster.
  2. Create a competitive advantage. Companies evolve to get better at what they do. By giving the process of change a structure, change management helps companies spot opportunities to gain a competitive advantage through reduced costs, specialization, innovation, or increased quality of service.
  3. Energize and empower employees. Research estimates that some 70% of change initiatives fail, in large part due to a lack of support from employees. Change management helps make sure employees feel recognized and supported, thereby empowering them to support change initiatives.

Current Problems of Change Management in Digital Transformation 

As we mentioned, making big changes to existing business processes is often a long journey, and not an easy one. This is particularly the case when making necessary upheavals to business components that have been in place for many years.  

“Nearly three-quarters of IT leaders say their companies are prioritizing digital transformation, up from 56% in 2021. Digital transformation is now higher on the priority list than cybersecurity (73%) and cloud implementation (65%).” 

Failure in digital transformation projects almost always comes down to a lack of preparation and strategy. Clear communication, objectives and consistent reporting of progress, staying in budget; all of these are crucial to see an initiative through from start to finish. Businesses that find themselves disappointed in the results of their digital projects often lack direction in these key areas.   

One of the reasons businesses more frequently use managed service providers (MSPs) is for this precise reason. Outsourcing the strategy and implementation to a third party that has demonstrated expertise over a number of years in similar projects is appealing to businesses looking to transform.  

Having a watertight change management strategy should be an organization’s top priority when embarking on adopting new technology.  

5 Change Management Strategies

Change management strategies are critical to the success of any change initiative in a company, whether it’s a specific, targeted transition within a department or significant digital transformation across the organization.  

By establishing and following your change management strategy, you’ll have a much easier time garnering stakeholder support, getting employees on board with new technologies or workflows, and effectively evolving your business at every level.

Here are five best practices for technology change management to get you started: 

1. Start from the Top 

Changes which affect the fundamental operation of the business will affect the company’s culture. Therefore, such changes must start from the C-suite. 

The role of leadership during periods of change is well-documented in management research. For example, research around leadership during mergers has found that, when leaders took a more active role in change management, the merger process itself produced a more positive work environment. 

The leader’s presence, guidance, and support signaled to their employees that they knew about and supported what was happening. It allayed fears, reduced anxiety, and helped employees feel more confident about the future. 

Change which starts at the top reflects a committed, invested, unified leadership that’s on the same page about the future of the company. It’s the only way you will be able to elicit and promote the culture needed to encourage the rest of the company to embrace change.

Two stats about culture and change management.

2. Make Sure the Change Is Necessary and Desirable 

Introducing too much too soon can be a huge problem down the line if a business doesn’t have a solid strategy in place. It’s no secret that many digital transformation efforts end in failure or fail to meet expectations, often to a concerning degree.

One of the primary reasons for this is that decision-makers are unsure of how to correctly approach a digital transformation and the impact it will have on their business.  

A lack of a comprehensive audit can lead to the implementation of solutions which are unnecessary for an organization’s needs, meaning added costs, additional training, and increased—often unrealistic—expectations.  

Before jumping into a change initiative, ask yourself if the proposed solutions will truly benefit the organization in a meaningful way.   

3. Minimize Disruption 

As many executives already know, having to change existing processes within an organization can be a headache. That’s why mitigating the effects of changes on employees is so critical.  

All too often, employee anxiety around change stems from the introduction of new strategies or technologies designed to make management and business operations more efficient.  

For instance, where leadership may see the introduction of automation into core business functions as a way to save time and money, employees who were previously tasked with these roles may feel replaced, threatened with obsolescence, or a lack of direction.  

In addition, organizational restructuring may cause employees who are moved to another position to feel indignant, confused, or wondering what was wrong with the previous structure.   

The result in both cases is lower morale, a dip in average employee performance, and a potential talent drain if your best performers flee. As such, it’s vital to minimize disruption among the workforce by:  

  • Planning for some disruption and getting the word out early.  
  • Providing employees with the training and resources to adapt to changes.
  • Fostering a culture which supports change or transformation.  
  • Empowering champions such as project managers or team leaders to provide clarity and context for changes.  
  • Making sure your IT department is in the loop and ready to support technological or infrastructural changes.  

4. Promote Communication 

We’ve alluded to the need for proper communication during organizational change, as it seems to be one of the underlying factors which determine the success or failure of a transition or transformation.  

Excellent communication keeps everyone on the same page and assures the people who will feel the brunt of these changes that they’re not in any danger.   

Talking about change candidly and openly is one of the most powerful things you can do to help your company embrace it.   

“Excellent communication can help reduce resistance, rally a network of change support, and provide the information required for people to change effectively. A solid communication has a greater purpose beyond creating simple awareness.” 

Likewise, encourage communication not just from leadership to employee, but also from employee to leadership.  

Create channels for employees to reach out with questions or concerns. Support cross-department communication to help ideas and innovation spread as new processes take hold. Like your vision, communication drives efficiency and has the potential to shape culture. 

An infographic with the success rate of different elements of change management.

5. Recognize That Change Is the Norm, Not the Exception 

Are you treating change as a project with a defined beginning and ending? You may run into difficulties because change is not a one-off project but an ongoing process.   

Today’s world moves exceptionally fast—technology, markets, consumer preferences, even environmental conditions are all rising and dissipating in the blink of an eye.  

Businesses not only need to transform their operations to be able to keep pace with their customers, they need to anticipate change and be ready for it when it occurs.  

Understanding that change is a continual and natural process within the ecosystem of your organization only underscores the importance of establishing a powerful change management strategy that defines protocols and eases the transition process for everyone involved.  

Wrapping Up on Change Management Strategies

Change management is a pillar in modern business as technology continues to advance at rapid rates and consumer preferences change over time. Understanding that your business needs to evolve over time will put you in the change management mindset, and help you grasp the fundamental value in defining an official change management strategy.

Here are a few key takeaways to keep in mind when considering change management strategies.

  • Organizations are unique and change affects them in different ways. Change management strategies will look different across a constellation of organizations.  
  • Successful change—whether large or small—requires a committed, active leadership which fosters good communication, a culture of learning, and a clear vision of what that change entails.
  • Change is an inevitable, vital element of running a business in today’s world. However, by embracing change readiness, businesses can turn change into an opportunity rather than a challenge.  
  • All change brings some disruption to the workplace, but you can mitigate harmful disruption while allowing it to breathe innovation into your operations.

The ability to ideate and implement organizational evolutions in operations, technologies, or even business structure will help you stay at the front of the market curve.

For more information on getting your digital transformation initiatives off the ground, check out Impact’s eBook, Fast-Tracking Your Digital Transformation.

A call to action to access the Fast-Tracking Your Digital Transformation eBook


Digital TransformationEmployee ExperienceChange Management


Additional Resources

Fast-Tracking Your Digital Transformation

See the simple, reliable steps to accelerate your DX strategy and get the most from your tech with Impact’s eBook, Fast-Tracking Your Digital Transformation.

Business Tech Insights Straight to You

Subscribe to our newsletter and get all our insights, videos, and other resources delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe Now

Elevate Your Business Today

Speak to one of our experts about how you can apply innovative strategies and solutions to your business.

Get Started

Impact Insights

Sign up for The Edge newsletter to receive our latest insights, articles, and videos delivered straight to your inbox.

More From Impact

View all Insights