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Change management is the process of renewing the organization’s direction, structure, and / or its capabilities to improve operational efficiency or adapt to changes in external or internal environment and thereby serve customers better. In today’s fast-paced world, the only thing constant is change, and change management has become an integral part of business management.
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Change Management Process
The change management process entails three broad phases: unfreeze, transition, and refreeze. Unfreeze is demolishing the set paradigms, norms, and rules; it entails pushing people out of their comfort zones and pulling them toward the desired change. Transition is the journey from the existing paradigms to the new paradigms. This takes the shape of temporary situations, ad-hoc regulations, management by exceptions, and the like. This stage is very often in a state of flux where the hitherto prevalent rules and procedures remain dismantled, but new rules and paradigms are yet to strike root, and the resistance to change that forces adherence to earlier norms creates some conflict and confusion. Refreezing entails entrenching new paradigms, putting new rules, regulations, and norms firmly in place, and ending all resistance to previous norms.
This model of change, promulgated by a psychologist Kurt Levin, drives change in most organizations.
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Uses of Electronic Records
The spread of computing and storage capabilities in recent years has led to widespread use of electronic records such as word processor documents, spreadsheets, presentation slides, databases, and others in organizations. Such electronic records score over conventional paper records in change management and complement the unfreeze-transition-refreeze process.
The biggest advantage of using change management electronic records is the possibility of editing documents easily. During the ‘unfreeze’ phase of change, the existing documents detailing rules, regulations, and policies that need change simply need deletion and replacement with new documents detailing new rules, regulations, and policies. Similarly, making changes to the electronic database or computer interfaces used by employees ranks as the most effective way to implement a new way of doing things. Paper records are difficult to change and replace, requiring painstaking effort and manual labor to creating, substituting, and destroying. In practice, old paper documents continue to co-exist with the new documents, making the transition difficult and chaotic.
The ease, simplicity, and low costs of electronic records aid change management by making it possible to issue frequent updates and implement change in stages by replacing the required records part by part or stage by stage.
The ability to program electronic records to undergo changes such as formatting or to perform calculations necessitated by the change helps in implementing change faster.
The successful use of electronic records for change management rests on the premise of a good electronic record management policy. Unregulated electronic records have the same drawbacks of paper records. The presence of two electronic documents indicating two sets of procedures for the same thing leads to confusions and difficulty in transition just as the existence of old handbook and new handbook in the office does. The key is to date documents, ensure that publishing of newer versions automatically deletes old versions and regulates taking backups.
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- ChangingMinds.org. Lewin's freeze phases. http://changingminds.org/disciplines/change_management/lewin_change/lewin_change.htm. Retrieved on September 24, 2010.
- The National Archives (UK). Guidelines on the Realization of Benefits from Electronic Records Management. Retrieved from http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/benefits_realisation.pdf. Retrieved on September 24, 2010.