Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Query on Process Change Management

Processes are meant for Doing things Right, First time, Every time. This is one of the core concepts I have seen people referring to during process formulation exercises. I presume the whole idea behind this is to make an organisation process driven instead of people driven.In my limited experience, (esp. in small to medium size organisations) I have seen new unit/department heads within a short span of time after their recruitment, devise a series of Continuous Improvement Requests (CIRs) and posted it to the EPG, who on most occasions weigh the CIRs against department and compliance goals, and if they don't see any adverse effect due to these changes, they approve it.One of the premise for approving the changes is to promote positive initiatives in the organisation.

Now, my questions are:
  1. Will adopting the practices prescribed by a new department head, which is based on his experiences, affect his subordinates' work( who are the actual practitioners) in an adverse manner?
  2. Will organic growth of existing practices (due to collective experience of the practitioners) be ruined due to implementing new practices?
  3. Will allowing practice changes from new department heads make an organisation fall behind from process to people driven? (even though this may last until the organisation get accustomed to the new practices) And is this permissible, if we consider the organisation's overall development?

First off, the impacts depend upon the organization’s Maturity Level. A Maturity Level 2 organization doesn’t necessarily have standard procedures for all projects to follow, though I have seen many ML 2 organizations take this approach. Therefore at Maturity Level 2 you can have multiple ways of doing the same thing, from project to project and from manager to manager.

When the organization matures to Maturity Level 3, the premise is that the organization has examined the multiple ways of performing a given practice and determined the Best Practice for the organization and then documents these Best Practices as the set of standard processes for the organization. This examination, coordination, and distribution of the standard processes is typically the responsibility of the Process Group. The Process Group manages the processes and is responsible for coordinating all process changes.

Now having said this, a new department head can make any process changes he or she wants to make. At ML 2 these changes could provide a Best Practice for consideration or additional information on things not to do. However, at ML 3 the organization should have established OPF and OPD processes for making process changes. The new department head would have to follow these change processes to propose his new processes. The Process Group would evaluate his proposals and pilot them as appropriate so the changes could be evaluated in a controlled manner. The outcome of the pilot(s) would determine whether or not the changes are made.

By following these steps, there shouldn’t be any of the problems you allude to in your note. However, if your organization does not have processes in place for making changes to the organization’s processes or the new department head mandates process changes without following the process, then you do have some serious issues to address.

  1. Making uncontrolled process changes will impact the practitioners, most likely adversely. People most likely will be frustrated because of the changes.
  2. Replacing existing procedures with new ones in an uncontrolled manner will adversely disrupt any process improvements and process evolution you have already made.
  3. Making uncontrolled process changes can cause the organization to regress in Maturity Levels, probably drop from whatever ML you are currently at to ML 1.

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