Best Practices for a Change Management Function & Center of Excellence (CoE)

As Pioneers of best organizational change management practices, we believe in supporting the global change management community with free guides and content.

This guide provides you with a step-by-step overview for launching and managing a best Change Management Office for your organization.

A decade after Steve Jobs handed the reins of leadership at Apple to Timothy Cook, I was hired as an Organizational Change Consultant to establish Apple’s Business-to-Business (B2B) Sales Organization Change Management Practice.

I created this change management center of excellence (CoE) from scratch, and I am sharing the steps and best practices in this article for change managers, project teams, and program leads to leverage and use for their needs. 

Ogbe A.
Sr. Change Management Lead & Coach
Strategic & Tactical Change Management

Change-Management-CoE-and-Function

Contact us if you have any feedback or questions about any of our helpful change management guides. 


Contents: Establishing, Managing & Expanding a Best Change Management Department

  1. What is a Change Management CoE, Office, Practice, & Function?
  2. What Should You Call Your Change Management Function?
  3. What Services Should Your Change Management Practice Offer?
  4. Creating Your Change Management Charter
  5. Change Management Charter Details & Sections
  6. Creating the Change Templates and Tools
  7. Launching, Managing, & Expanding the Change Management Practice

Contact the OCM Solution team if you have any feedback or questions about managing a change management center of excellence CoE.

In addition, if you are very experienced in change management but would like to bounce ideas off another experienced change management lead, or if you are a new change management practitioner and are looking to learn best change management practices, you can reach out to us for change management coaching.


What is a Change Management CoE, Office, Practice, & Function?

A Change Management Function is basically an internal consulting group that has its own mandate, strategies, practices, and policies. It provides change management services and supports to stakeholders and to project teams across the organization in the form of a “Change Management as a Service” approach.  

Planning, establishing, managing, and expanding a Change Management Office for your organization is a vital part of any effective change management program. Groups, teams, and stakeholders would reach out to the Change Management Center of Excellence (CoE) for change management help, and the Change CoE team or lead would review each request to determine which service was best suited to that particular change program.

As part of establishing the practice, you will need to draft up a change management charter (described in the sections below), which will include the services and plans being offered by the change practice, as well as the change management roles and responsibilities that will be delivered based on each plan offered.


What Should You Call Your Change Management Function?

A Change Management CoE is generally referred to as one of the following:

  • Change Management Practice
  • Change Management Function
  • Change Management Center of Excellence (CoE)
  • Change Management Office (CMO)
  • Change Team
  • Change Management Community of Excellence (CoE)
  • Change Management Department

You can use any of the above names for your CoE. For example, you can call your practice: <Insert Name of Your Organization> Change Management Practice. E.g.: Microsoft Supply Chain Change Management Practice. 


What Services Should Your Change Management Practice Offer?

See below for the various services and plans generally offered by a Change Management Practice.

When developing your change management charter, you will want to include these offerings as part of your charter as well as clearly stating the change management tasks, roles and responsibilities that will be provided per each service plan.

1. Full Change Management CoE Service

A full-service plan involves providing 100% change management support and services to a project.

The Change Management Office assigns a change practitioner from the CoE to the project, and that practitioner is fully responsible for delivering all aspects of change management including change assessments, creating and delivering the change plans, and helping to reinforce the change after go-live.

Offering a full-service change management function plan to a project is generally best when the project is high-profile, transformational in nature, high-risk/high visibility, enterprise-wide impacting, or impacting a wide/important group or groups.

In the event that the change management department does not have enough resources or bandwidth, then a Partial CoE Service might be best even if the project is high-profile, transformational in nature, high-risk/high visibility, enterprise-wide impacting, or impacting a wide/important group or groups.

2. Partial Change Management CoE Service

A partial service plan involves providing part-time change management support and services to a project

In this case, the change management department will not be responsible for delivering 100% of the change management tasks for that project, but instead will assign a change practitioner from the change CoE to coach and support the project team or leads

The change practitioner from the Change Management Office will not be responsible for delivering 100% of the change management tasks for the project, instead the change practitioner from the CoE will play an advisory role, and also help deliver some of the change deliverables

A partial service plan is generally best when the project is a small-to-mid-sized project that is not transformational in nature, and is not impacting a wide range of groups

3. Self-Service Change Management Support

With a self-service approach, the Change Management CoE will provide change templates, tools, and guides (or a suite of change management toolkits) to the stakeholders/project teams for a particular project. 

The Change Management Office will not be involved in the project and will not be conducting any change management activities or functions. Instead, they will only be providing change management tools.

A self-service plan is generally best when it’s a small project, or when the CoE does not have enough bandwidth or resources to support the project

You will need to educate the project team and stakeholders on how to use the self-service tools and guides. At a minimum, you should provide at least one 45-60 minutes briefing session where you or members of the Change Management Practice will walk the stakeholders through the self-service change management toolkits and educate them on how to use these tools.

Reach out to us if you have any feedback or questions about launching and managing the best organizational change management offices and practices. 


Creating Your Change Management Charter

When launching your Change Management Office, you will need to create a charter. A change management practice charter is a formal documentation that outlines the understanding, scope, objectives, and function of the change management office, and will also define the roles and responsibilities of each party involved.

A charter outlines what your team stands for and how they will operate. By creating a document of shared goals, strategies, and processes, your change management team can start every project on a united front, using a consistent approach and methodology.

A change management office charter is important as it:

  • Provides accountability for the members of the Change Management CoE
  • Delivers a consistent CoE approach
  • Outlines a customized team process document
  • Establishes a shared vision for project success and support
  • Improves communication among members of the change practice and external stakeholders
  • Ensures all team members understand the ideals and vision of the change office

In addition to their internal change management office benefits, your charter will also show your team’s purpose to the rest of your organization.

Not only will your team be explicitly stating your purpose, value and process in the charter document, but as other stakeholders across your organization review your charter in its entirety, they’ll gain a full understanding of how the Change Management Office will operate, and the value it provides.


Change Management Charter Details & Sections

The charter for a Change Management Office should include the following sections:

  • Mission and Objectives
  • Offerings
  • Team Members
  • Roles & Responsibilities Per Offering
  • Communication Process
  • Success Assessment
  • Rules for Resolving Conflicts
  • Socialize and Sign-Off the Charter

Change-Management-Practice-Charter

Mission and Objectives

On the charter’s mission and objectives slide or page, state the purpose of your team and what you collectively seek to accomplish. What is the purpose of the Change Management Practice? What are your mandates?

While the Change Management Office (CMO) will support multiple projects, there’s a larger mandate that describes the function of the CMO. Consider this larger mandate when drafting your change management team’s charter: How will the change practice work with stakeholders within the company? What is the overall purpose of the change practice? Thinking through these questions will help you state your team’s purpose.

For example:

The purpose of the <Name of Your Organization> Change Management Office is to provide change management services, support, and delivery using a “Change Management as a Service” approach.

We will engage and consult with project teams, project sponsors, leadership team, and other stakeholders to deliver change management deliverables that will enable impacted users to adopt organizational changes and business initiatives.

The Change Management Practice will apply a suite of change management tools, services, and guides to increase end-user change adoption and proficiencies. The change practice will help increase overall return on investments (ROIs) for in-flight and future projects, programs, and business initiatives.

Tip: Use a creative approach to come up with your team’s purpose. Engaging with members of the team to state your purpose can be a bonding opportunity. Ask team members to brainstorm the Change Management Function’s purpose and write down all of their ideas. Then, try narrowing the list down to one or two paragraphs. This will then become the formal mission statement for the Change Management Office.

Offerings

Your change management charter should include an Offerings section that outlines the different types of offerings your organization will provide to project teams and stakeholders.

Visit this section above for more details: Change Management CoE Offerings (Services and Plans)

Team Members & Structure

Your charter should include an overview of the team members and overall structure.

Create an org structure for the change management practice. Starting with the highest-ranking member of the group, break down your team structure per job role. Also, you should include a sentence or two about the responsibilities associated with each role.

The members of the change practice will include:

    • Change Agents. These are Change Management Practitioners whose day-to-day job involves drafting, delivering, and managing change management. Every day they live and breathe change management
    • Change Champions. These are individuals whose day-to-day job is not change management. Instead, they are being solicited to support change programs that are impacting their groups. These individuals might be Sales Managers, Engineers, Admins, Operations, Legal Specialists, Licensing, Manufacturing, etc. who have their normal business job role that is not change management
    • Leadership & Sponsors. These are individuals at the leadership level who are advocating for the change management practice

The members of the change practice can also include:

    • Change Ambassadors. These are change management professionals that support the Change Agents as they deliver hands-on change management throughout the departments. Ambassadors coach Change Agents, and may also provide program-level change management reporting across all projects to executives.

The Team Members section in your charter will be really helpful as it allows others to understand the role each member of the CoE performs. Most importantly, it helps reinforce to team members what his or her role is, as well as expectations. At the same time, it also serves as a reference guide that will help each member of the CoE to understand what their coworkers are working on.

Tip: Use a creative approach when defining your team’s structure and roles and responsibilities. Engaging with members of the team to state the change roles and responsibilities can be a team building and bonding opportunity. Meet together – either via an in-person meeting or virtually in a video call -and challenge members of the team (including change champions, agents and others) to learn about each other, and each other’s responsibilities.

Roles and Responsibilities Per Offering

In this section, state the level of roles and responsibilities that the change management office team members will provide based on the type of service being provided to a project.

See more information here: Change Management CoE Offerings (Services and Plans)

Change Framework

Explain the change management delivery framework that will be used for the different types of projects. ​​A change delivery workflow is an end-to-end, repeatable flow that outlines the various phases and tasks that will be delivered.

You can review and leverage our Change Management Framework, which is a 5-phase change model that uses a proven, real, “change management deliverables approach” for practical hands-on implementation of change management versus the theoretical change management scenarios used by a lot of change management methodologies.

Repeatable Change Mgt Framework Deliverables

Communication Process

Establish and document the various ways in which the change practice will communicate internally as a team as well as externally to stakeholders, and project teams. There is no one-size-fits-all. For communicating with some stakeholders, a standard weekly or bi-weekly report via email might suffice. For other stakeholders, having meetings on a weekly, every other week, or once a month basis might be required.

Internally, amongst members of the CoE, regular virtual or face-to-face meetings is recommended for communications and brainstorming

Success Assessment 

Part of establishing a change management practice includes defining what success will look like. How will you track whether your activities are successful? Your overall success KPI will be connected to your mission statement. How well is the team reaching that mission statement?

For project-based success tracking, you will want to track awareness, impacted user engagement and buy-in to the project, knowledge and change reinforcement. Read more here: Change Management KPIs and User Adoption Metrics for Change Managers & Project Management Leads.

Your team should have a general way to measure what the various success metrics and KPIs will look like. Generally, it is recommended that you apply a mix of your CoE’s objectives, as well as subjective ways to define the various levels of successes. Applying such a mix will ensure that your team and the overall practice does not fall into a routine of supporting projects without considering all perspectives first, including the exit criteria.

Rules for Resolving Conflicts

Members of the change practice team will inevitably disagree. While such levels of conflicts aren’t a bad thing, it is essential that you establish a basic set of ground rules to prevent disagreements from escalating.

Examples of such ground rules can include:

    • Team members should only provide feedback or criticism in a constructive manner
    • Team members should always treat others with respect, and practice active listening
    • Team members should always assume positive intent, and discuss conflicts openly
    • Treat customers, coworkers, and managers equally
    • Celebrate each other’s accomplishments, and find solutions together

With such a simple list of conflict resolution guidelines, the group can minimize conflicts and miscommunication.

Tip: Turn this section of the change management charter into a collaborative and team building event. Gather members of the team together and act out challenging situations. Practice using the ground rules to find common ground. 

Socialize and Sign-Off the Charter

After drafting and integrating feedback into the charter, the next step is to review it with key leadership stakeholders and sponsors to get their sign-off and blessing.

Everyone who is connected with the change management office including at the leadership level should be in alignment regarding the contents included in the team charter. To maintain ongoing alignment, you should review the charter (and update it as needed) and re-share the charter with members of the team on a quarterly basis. In addition, on a regular basis, you can hold a 30-minute meeting and invite all team members to discuss, review, edit and make improvements to the charter.


Creating the Change Templates & Tools for the CoE

It’s important to have a consistent set of change management templates and tools for the team members of your Change CoE to use. These should include the ability to generate analytics reporting on change progress and give team members one place to manage all change management activities. Using a centralized change template, software, or tool, also allows for program-level reporting across all projects in the organization.

In developing your full suite of change management toolkits, you will want to consider developing the following:

  1. Change Impact Assessment Toolkit
  2. Change Management Communications Planning & Management Toolkit
  3. Change Management Project Risk & Success Assessment Toolkit
  4. Change Metrics & KPI Tracking Toolkit
  5. Coaching Leaders & Employees Through Change Toolkit
  6. Organizational Readiness Assessment Toolkit
  7. Resistance-to-Change Assessment & Management Toolkit
  8. Stakeholder Assessment, Mapping, Engagement & Management Toolkit
  9. Toolkit for Managing Change Champions & Agents
  10. Toolkit to Manage Training Programs for Employees & Managers

You can also leverage OCM Solution’s All-in-One Change Management Solution for your needs.


Launching and Managing the Change Management Practice

  1. Finalize and get signoff on the charter
  2. Finalize the change templates, strategies, and toolkits
  3. Provide communications to stakeholders and project teams
  4. Conduct walkthrough briefing sessions to educate stakeholders, groups, and project teams on the Change CoE’s value, service plans, and etc.
  5. Educate change champions and supporting stakeholders on best change management practices
  6. Start taking on projects and offering change management services using the team’s charter to guide which project to take on and what services will be offered.
  7. Provide ongoing communications and meetings with the appropriate stakeholders