Change management for clients by model ADKAR

    Implementing a project management solution is always associated with organizational changes. In order for the product to significantly increase the efficiency of processes, many of them need to be adapted. It is known that any changes in companies begin with people. Job descriptions can be thoroughly written, explained and set up everything, but if team members are not ready for changes and / or do not want to change anything, there will be no results from the implementation of the system or they will be insignificant.

    That is why every customer success manager at Wrike must be an expert in organizational change management and be able to carry out activities to implement these changes. In this article we will analyze one of the most well-known models for change management - ADKAR - and accompany the description of each of its phases with examples and explanations.


    ADKAR is a model presented by the author Jeffrey Hyatt in the book “ ADKAR: A Model for Business in Government, Government and Our Community ”. Today, this model is widely used as a step-by-step instruction for managing changes, as in many companies from the Fortune 500 rating, and by government organizations, such as the US Department of Defense.

    The book itself is not a concentration of fundamentally new ideas. Rather, we are talking about the fact that the author was well able to formulate and describe a system based on well-known concepts, which must be implemented sequentially, stage by stage, to be implemented for successful implementation of changes.

    One of the key ideas that occurs in virtually any work on change management is that change is not a moment, but a process. In accordance with the ADKAR model, this process consists of 5 key stages:

    A - Awareness - Awareness of the need for change
    D - Desire - desire to participate in changes
    K - Knowledge - knowledge of what exactly is required to be done for changes
    A - Ability - ability / ability to embody changes
    R - Reinforcement - reinforcement of implemented changes

    Also the most important aspect highlighted by the author is that for successful implementation of changes, all stages must be completed by the company from beginning to end. Accordingly, if any of the stages is skipped, the changes will be doomed to failure.

    Let's briefly analyze each of the stages.

    Awareness of the need for change

    The key task at the first stage is to inform employees of the organization about the nature of the upcoming changes. Here it is necessary to convey to the collective why changes are required and what are the potential risks if there are no changes.

    There are 5 factors that influence employee understanding of the need for change:

    Factor 1: a personal vision of the current situation
    Factor 2: how the employee perceives problems
    Factor 3: trust in the person reporting the need for change
    Factor 4: rumors and inaccurate information existing in the organization
    Factor 5: Perceived Employee Significance of Making Changes


    Every time a key employee of the client company decides to implement Wrike to improve the organization’s performance, this decision becomes the starting point at the beginning of the change process. Together with the Customer Success manager from Wrike, a customer representative discusses the reasons for the purchase of the product (the so-called “pain points” of the organization). Typical reasons include disparate communication between employees (if, for example, different employees use different tools, such as email, what's up, slack, Google spreadsheets, etc. And, in connection with this, the “pieces” of communication on projects are scattered among them), lack of transparency of processes, lack of a clear understanding of who is responsible for certain stages of projects, etc.

    After the reasons are formulated, the objectives for the reporting period are determined (usually for a year). Then the company’s management needs to inform employees about what changes are coming, why they are needed and what the consequences are that changes will not be made. Traditionally, a positive approach is possible here, a negative one and their combination.

    A simple example: today, more and more markets are becoming highly competitive; therefore, the company simply cannot afford to remain inefficient. If there is no change, then the natural consequences could be the loss of market share or the complete liquidation of the organization.

    Desire to participate in change

    At the second stage, the main point is to create conditions for employees to want to participate in the change process, that is, they are sufficiently motivated for this. For the management, this stage is more difficult compared to ensuring awareness of the need for change, since in the first case the task is only to convey information to the employees, and the “formation” of desire is not under its (leadership) direct control.

    In accordance with the model, there are 4 factors that influence employees' willingness to participate in changes:

    Factor 1: The nature of changes (WIIFM *)
    *additional clarification is required here. In any concept or model of change management, you will always find in one or another formulation the phrase “You cannot be forced to change. A person will change only if he wants it. ” The concept of “WIIFM” - “What's In It For Me” is inextricably linked with this principle - what will I personally (the employee) benefit from these changes? When planning organizational changes, management always needs to start a discussion with this issue.
    Factor 2: Organizational context for change
    Factor 3: Personal position of an employee in an organization
    Factor 4: Individual factors that motivate this particular employee


    One of the main tasks that the decision makers jointly decide on the part of the client and the Customer Success manager on the part of Wrike is to ensure widespread product implementation and its use by all employees. But in itself, deciding on how to use Wrike is not identical to the fact that all team members will start using it the very next day. They may well understand why management decided to implement the product, be able to use it, but simply did not want to do it.

    The reasons for this are a great many. Employees may assume that this is just a waste of time, have a negative experience of using such a solution, etc. For other reasons, you can find out in the article “ 6 typical problems when implementing a project management solution .”

    It is necessary to find specific advantages of using the product for an employee so that he wants to use the product. A simple example:

    A common reason for implementing Wrike is to ensure transparency and time savings, which have traditionally been spent inefficiently. Model case: the creative team before the purchase Wrike held a large number of meetings during the week to discuss edits on the layouts and get an agreement between the intermediate and / or final versions of the art director. After introducing Wrike, the art director collects the designers and tells them the following: “We are going 2-3 times a week to discuss the edits. If you react to proofing in a timely manner, you will add comments to Wrike and all ready-for-approval layouts to review, we can abandon the practice of these meetings, because I will see everything in my working space anyway. ” Situation category win-win. Employee wins,

    Necessary knowledge for making changes

    So, employees are aware of the need for change and are motivated enough to participate in them. The time comes for the third stage of the ADKAR model, which is related to obtaining the necessary knowledge for successful implementation of changes.

    The author identifies the following factors associated with this phase:

    Factor 1: Current knowledge of employees before the start of changes
    Factor 2: Employees' ability to learn
    Factor 3: The resources available to the organization for training
    Factor 4: Access to the information required for training and her (information) existence in principle


    Wrike has a whole range of different processes related to customer product training. They include individual trainings conducted by an implementation specialist or Customer Success manager; Webinars that employees can attend on their own; the so-called process mapping, in which existing processes in the organization are transferred to Wrike and employees receive additional training on how these processes now operate in the new environment.

    Skills / abilities to embody change

    The fourth stage of the ADKAR model is connected with the skills of employees to bring changes to life and achieve the required level of indicators. Knowledge alone is often not sufficient. Employees trained in changes in processes, systems, and functional roles do not automatically become specialists in these areas.

    When an employee has the necessary skills to translate changes and applies these skills in practice, the changes themselves become visible, and their effect is measurable. While successful change management on the ADKAR model requires consistent movement from the first to the fifth stage, it is the fourth stage that is most indicative, since it reflects, among other things, the successful completion of the previous ones. Of course, the converse is also true - the unsuccessful passage of any of stages 1-3 necessarily “pops up” on the fourth.

    The model contains 5 factors influencing the employee's ability to successfully introduce changes:

    Factor 1: Psychological barriers
    Factor 2: Physical abilities
    Factor 3: Intellectual abilities
    Factor 4: Time needed to develop the required skills
    Factor 5: The organization’s resources to develop skills


    Despite the existence of a number of areas that exist for the training of customer’s staff in a product, we at Wrike always inform the customer at the initial stage that product implementation and successful use require considerable time. In many ways, this is due to the obvious fact that each organization has its own specifics. We can tell how to create a project, how to add tasks to it and what tools for monitoring the interface has. But employees will have to independently learn how to use the product in accordance with the rules adopted by the company, the processes and the existing organizational structure.

    Often, the approach to the transfer of a business process of the company is very nontrivial. In such cases, even those employees of the client’s organization who use the product for a long time need help. In such situations, Wrike is assisted by Customer Success managers and implementation specialists. The former share best practices in the use of the product (and, obviously, the number of such practices increases over time) and provides support at a strategic level. The latter provide tactical support and offer specific, step-by-step solutions to customer problems.

    Reinforcement of implemented changes

    At the final, fifth, stage, the main task is to reinforce and support the changes already implemented, both at the level of each employee and at the level of the organization as a whole. As a rule, we are talking about positive reinforcement, but other scenarios are possible.

    The author of the model identifies 4 factors that influence the process of reinforcement of changes:

    Factor 1: Significance of changes for the employee, whom they have influenced
    Factor 2: Association of reinforcement with specific results achieved
    Factor 3: No negative consequences *
    Explanation: this refers to the fact that if the implemented changes had any negative consequences for the employee, he is unlikely to further contribute to these changes. For example, if in the process of changes the organizational structure changed and the employee lost his usual status, he can resist the changes (including after their implementation). In such cases, you must either find a solution that suits both the employee and the organization, or part with the employee.
    Factor 4: Building a system to support change.


    In practice, we met several interesting examples of how executives of companies that implemented Wrike reinforced the changes associated with its implementation.

    In particular, a number of clients broadcast deshboards with tasks at different stages of their execution on widescreen TVs hanging throughout the office. The emphasis was placed, in particular, on the widget with completed tasks, so that all employees could see how many tasks had already been completed by this stage.

    In many cases, the increase in efficiency itself became the best reward for employees. We constantly hear a lot of stories on calls with customers, when employees say that they “finally started to leave work on time”.

    The ADKAR model is easy to implement and is described in great detail by the author. This is the rare case when not a set of concepts divorced from reality is presented, but a step-by-step guide in the form of “take and implement”. Not surprisingly, it is so popular among leading companies. We strongly recommend to familiarize and test.

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