Managing change by pre-planning

July 9th, 2014

In a slightly rhetorical discussion, I asked if you can really manage change. In my experience, it can be managed, although frequently it isn’t. The most common reason is a lack of planning. We’ve all seen that old adage “fail to plan = plan to fail”, thus the plan has to take into account something which you are not always certain about, around people, who are inherently unpredictable.

I’m going to start with ten questions, which I believe are generic to any business / organisation change and are the starting, fundamental, questions for pre-planning:

  1. Why are you doing this?
  2. What is the change? This is not as odd as it sounds – often a “system upgrade” or “process improvement” seems like a small amendment/enhancement to something which is already in place, yet causes many other ripples and changes
  3. Who will be affected? Re-phrase that to who won’t be affected, in some way no matter how small? Even if the “system” being amended is used by one support function, it wouldn’t be there if it didn’t provide information or processes used by others within the business, maybe impacting on associates, suppliers and customers as well
  4. When does it need to happen by?
  5. What needs to be in place before? during? at the end? from elsewhere in the business and leading into other parts of the business
  6. Why will people want to use it? Or, sometimes more importantly, why might they not?
  7. What is the budget for the new/updated system itself?
  8. What is the budget for implementing it?
  9. What other costs/revenues will be affected?
  10. What training is required to use this new/updated system or process? What will that cost?

All of these questions lead to other questions and conversations and will have multiple answers. If there are three revenue departments and three support departments, expect at least six versions of the answers, together with a number of individual variations.

Where do you start?

Identify the best person within, or externally, to lead the questioning and information gathering, who all the various people will respond to. In my experience, I’ve seen this done by:

  • A senior internal person or someone from a central services or different department to the one leading the project – if they have the skills and are seen as objective and the time to do so
  • A supplier’s facilitator – if they are involved in a wide-ranging project and given access to all parts of the organisation and they aren’t seen as simply “selling” the solution; there also needs to be a budget for this
  • An external project manager or facilitator – independent of the supplier and the internal staff; if there is the budget for this

Feel free to comment below, add your own thoughts and questions and disagree if you like. More tips will follow ….

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