Change Management Introduction of new applications

In the project business and the classic target triangle of costs - deadlines - quality, the topic of change management is often neglected and, if things get hectic, completely forgotten. However, the human factor must also be taken into account when successfully introducing a new application. We provide practical recommendations.

An everyday example is used to illustrate what you should pay attention to when introducing a new application. Let's assume we are the tour guides of a large group of passengers and want to change from train X to train Y at Bern station. We want to:

  • That everyone catches the train,
  • There are no accidents,
  • The travel group can enjoy the journey and feels comfortable on the trains.

How can the tour guide achieve these goals?

Communicate goals clearly

Where is the journey going? Which train do we take, when and on which platform?

The tighter the deadline, the clearer the goal must be for everyone. It is a misconception that successful change management can only be achieved if everyone has a say on all issues. Management must agree on the goals and communicate them clearly. Statements such as "We are introducing application X, but application Y would actually be much better" are unsettling and counterproductive.

Speaking a common language

The new train may be from a different rail company. Can I find my way around? What language are the announcements made in and where can I find the information I need?

New applications often come with their own technical terms. Project staff who have been working with them for a long time will of course be familiar with them. But what about the users? They often don't dare to ask about the basics so as not to "embarrass" themselves. It is advisable to avoid a Babylonian confusion of language:

  • In workshops, the definition of terms and from this,
  • create a glossary and update it regularly.

The glossary is made available to all those involved and is easy to find.

Communicate vividly

Is the tour guide in contact with the group during the transfer? How do we exchange information, how do we ensure that everyone receives important new information?

Communication is known to be a two-way process: the sender of information and the recipient enter into an exchange, the roles are constantly changing. Accordingly, you should maintain contact with the employees involved in the project and enter into a dialog again and again. This does not always have to be institutionalized; it can also take place informally, during a coffee break or at a spontaneous meeting. Good communication keeps the interest simmering and is clear and appropriate to the target group.

No measure without a diagnosis

The train is running on a different track, the rail company is on strike, or the tickets were issued incorrectly! What do we do now?

In medicine, "any therapy is only as good as the diagnosis on which it is based". The same applies to change processes. Rushing off headlong to the next best solution without allowing yourself a moment of analysis and reflection consumes (human) resources unnecessarily and is rarely effective. It also does not build trust. It is important to know the actual situation and to know where the shoe pinches.

Involving those affected

Anyone fancy a coffee-to-go? Who is familiar with the scoreboard at the station? Does anyone know where the nearest kiosk is?

It's a truism: participation has a positive effect on motivation, resilience and the willingness to embrace change.

After the trip: Changes must be manageable

We have arrived. Now settle in and the program will continue in the evening.

We all know the feeling. We've arrived at our destination and are looking forward to sightseeing. But our minds are already filled to the brim with impressions of the trip. Of course, this varies from person to person.

Nevertheless, new work processes usually take longer at the beginning, even if they are actually faster than the previous ones. Efficiency gains are sometimes only achieved over time and not immediately.

The bigger the changes are, the more attention must be paid during the introductory phase to establishing the changes in manageable doses. As a manager, you should be able to intervene according to the situation: adjust the pace if necessary, disrupt processes or work steps that are not proving successful, ideally with the involvement of employees.


The following sentence has often been written or said:

"Change is not the exception, it's the rule."

So it's nothing new. The measures described in the article are also neither groundbreaking nor patentable.

Change management is based on the fact that you want to actively shape change, without this it is not possible. It is rarely the responsibility of just one person. It requires the involvement of the project management, the client and the stakeholders.

"Communication is key": accepted communication channels are needed for the exchange of information.

Successful change management must be constantly adapted to the current situation and cannot be stubbornly worked through, otherwise it would be a contradiction in terms. This makes it challenging on the one hand, but also interesting at the same time.

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Marcel Eichenberger, Ironforge Consulting AG

Marcel Eichenberger