Change Management and all that it implies!
People like to be involved in the process of change. Our work environments have become too sophisticated to consider doing otherwise. So, how do you get from where you are now, to where you want to be, with the least impact on your environment?
Changes in business can be organisational and impact the people, their roles and responsibilities. It can involve processes such as ordering, payroll and office management, or it can be technological change including anything from a new telephone or computer system, to a new application to master.
Often you start with a vision of the change required. At this stage a business case is developed to justify your vision. This involves weighing up the potential costs and expected benefits along with who it will affect. Costs may be considerable and there may be short term pain such as office disruption or the learning process for staff and customers. The long term gain leading to increased efficiency or a better customer experience for example, must outweigh the negative impacts, otherwise there is no reason to continue.
Next you create the right environment for change which has 5 key elements to be considered:
Stakeholders, or the people it will impact. This could be the (friendly) bank manager who will need to see a good financial plan before lending you the money. It could include staff, customers and suppliers depending upon the size of the project or the impact of the change.
Plans, where the analysis of the component parts of the project, the dependencies and flow of the work are considered.
Risks to the successful completion of the plan
Controls to provide the opportunity for review and adjustments to keep things on track
Success criteria with which to measure that success.
1. Stakeholder Management
Ensuring your stakeholders see the benefits of the change is essential. Your mission is to win those stakeholders over by actively engaging with them as early as possible in the process. By determining the WIFMs and WIFTs (what’s in it for me, what’s in it for them), you can determine what will get them excited about the proposed changes.
Dealing with the expectations of your stakeholders, so they feel consulted and connected to the project, will be your winning hand. When the benefits are highlighted and they see what they will gain, working with you is more likely. Without your stakeholders’ acceptance and participation, all the planning you do is doomed to potential, or actual failure.
2. A good plan you believe in
Once your vision is clear, you can start to create the plan. Believing in the plan is a key element for its success and a good plan will tell you:
- What you are going to do
- When it will start
- The resources you need along the way
- How long it will take
- How much it will cost
The first stage is to create the work breakdown and work flow. This is the cycle of the project from inception to end result. The planning stage takes into account the key components that must be delivered throughout the project to achieve the desired outcome. A key part of the planning is the critical path analysis which is used to focus your attention on where to base your risk analysis. You are effectively working out what is the shortest possible time it will take to deliver the project or change. Anything not on the critical path has an element of ‘float’ in it which provides an allowance for delays. If anything on the critical path slips, the project or change will be delayed or worse, abandoned with higher cost implications and disappointment. The focus of your attention is on the analysis of the critical path.
3. Risks You must identify what could possibly go wrong and assess each risk in order to mitigate their potential realisation and establish contingency plans in case they occur.
4. Controls Your plan should include periodic control points where you take stock of progress against the plan and consider whether the business case remains valid. Risks are also reviewed.
5. Success Criteria These are defined from the outset. Your vision will include what you expect to be achieved in order to declare successful completion. If you don’t know what success looks like, how do you know when you’ve arrived?
Change implies the new and unknown. Humans as creatures of habit resist change. All kinds of factors come into play: leaving a known security; learning new habits or skills; getting to know new people or even new locations. Consequently, a key component of an environment conducive to change is happy stakeholders. The challenge of managing your stakeholders, to keep them on your side, invariably leads to differences of opinion or conflict, which has to handled effectively.
How you handle conflict and negotiate your way through it to a successful outcome is an important part of managing the change you propose.
Once the 5 key elements have been addressed, your proposed change has a far greater chance of succeeding. In fact, if the right environment for change has been created, it can be downright exciting for everyone to see it come together. Now, I think it’s time for a cup of tea!
Released On 19th Oct 2015