News & Views - Savantor

Change Management - A Practitioner's View

Friday, 01 July 2005

·         Process

·         Control

·         Planning

·         Documentation.

·         Meetings

·         Culture

·         People

·         Service

·         IT

·         Operations

·         Knowledge

·         Communication

·         Support

·         Training

·         Scheduling


All of the elements involved in a change environment require handling in different ways to achieve success. One way to approach such a complex subject is to involve experienced practitioners who have either run or been involved in a range of different change programmes. 

Change is not a mystical practice. Successful change comes from a sound understanding of the process and the implications of implementing change. Many fine ideas are lost due to poor implementation. A situation that provides control is linked to sound communication; has the 'buy in' of the people who will accept and run the new change; maintains a good relationship with and has the understanding of IT and support groups. However, this is hard to achieve. The testing and proving arenas are great training areas for the team; they will have to think on their feet and make quick decisions, balancing the risk of moving forward or reversing the change. These are also the first areas to see change in a semi-live environment and are an invaluable information source when assessing the impact of change on the business.

One could say that a good change is one that is not noticed in that it does not impact the daily business operation; it moves through an agreed life cycle in a balanced and controlled fashion, utilising the process to good effect. A good change should not have any surprises because it has been planned and tested in the appropriate phases, as set out in the agreed and signed-off project plan. The finance and sponsorship elements will also have been agreed and these areas will be fully updated on progress.

The change process can, however, be an overly bureaucratic practice. Paradoxically, communication can become very confusing if it is not controlled centrally as different areas may put out their own view, possibly contradicting other areas and confusion will reign. This may lead to e-mail overload for the Project Manager/Change Agent and as a result, key issues may be missed, causing deadlines to slip as the focus now moves into the defensive mode of operation. The impact of this type of situation must not be underestimated; it will create lost time for the project and the company suffers in numerous ways.

Change Management – Organisational Process

Most major change programmes would follow a traditional life cycle, which should be cyclical in nature as it is self perpetuating. This concept has been around since the 1930s and is based on the idea that the first step in any improvement is to Plan what you want to happen.  Next you Pilot a controllable element of it to test the process and then Check the results against agreed success criteria. Once you are satisfied that the new process is working as required, you Act to implement the change, monitor and then Plan further improvements.

             

At a more detailed level, a change management programme would look something like this:

Plan

·         High level requirements, including success criteria.

·         Initial planning.

·         Strategic review.

·         Impact on other strategies.

·         Funding agreed.

·         Cost and benefits assessment.

Pilot

·         Detailed requirements.

·         Solution identification/selection.

·         Detailed planning.

·         Feasibility study.

·         Design with input from all stakeholders.

·         Build with progress monitoring and control in place.

·         Pilot/trial.

Check

·         Testing.

·         Monitor issues, risk and dependencies test.

·         Monitor results.

Act

·         Roll out/implementation

·         Results/benefits monitoring.

·         Review.

Change Management – Organisational Concepts

Having a model for change is all very well but it is the implementation of change programmes that is often the cause of change failing to achieve what it set out to do. To avoid this, the following must happen:

·         Educate the leaders of change.

·         Use an approach that involves all stakeholders in the change process.

·         Plans for improvement are the same as plans for any other project – they change, so be prepared to adapt.

·         Provide training and development for those involved. These activities can include everything from study groups to "on-the-job" coaching.

·         Recognise that change happens only through people. Understanding resistance and working with it is key to success.

·         Understand that things often get worse before improvement begins to appear.

·         Whilst the outcome is important, people also need to understand why they are taking on new practices and procedures.

Utilise the benefits monitoring stage to validate the process and to effect further changes if the process needs updating. Ensure feedback goes to all areas that were involved and actions are recorded and followed up. This will help the organisation understand the change cycle and see it as a pro-active forum that will respond to the issues raised. The change process must have teeth, since your company's future depends on getting it right first time. The impact of poor change is loss of revenue, customer complaints, including concerns about the reliability of the service, and an unhappy workforce with poor performance ratings. It may also lead to management looking backwards to fix problems that should not have occurred. The goal is to eliminate re-work and to move forward with change efficiently and effectively. 

The change cycle is constant and the most efficient companies handle change with a 'business as usual' approach. They train staff in the process and are always looking to improve it. They will have an open view, ensuring all parties are equal in implementing the change programme and all activities are monitored and acted upon to facilitate improvement.

The Savantor practitioners can utilise this approach in your environment. If you are experiencing problems in the area of change, call in our experts who will quickly and efficiently help you to resolve your problems, working with your people to help develop greater understanding and an effective change environment.

 

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