Change Management, simply a process

26 05 2010

In the past 10 days or so, I have had some strange conversations with regards to Change Management, what is it, what does it do, are there dedicated change management solutions out there, etc. Etc…. 

It’s weird, as Change Management does get a lot of press, it’s one of those weird IT things where something that has always been done, gets recognition and is marketed as some new methodology or software that will solve your business woes….

So what is change management?

OK, I am going to be blunt. Don’t get caught up with definitions of change management, it is no methodology and shouldn’t be seen as a single standalone piece of software that will help your organisation. Change Management is simply one of many business processes your organisation partakes in probably every day. Change management is the process of changing something internally within the business. It could be something physical, like a server, it could be something bigger, like the way in which certain processes are performed, the introduction of new software applications across the business or maybe even a change in business direction. Whatever change it is, it is a business process that starts off when change is identified, and is only completed once the change has been fully implemented…

So, Change Management should be treated no different to any other internal processes your organisation has. The only difference, and the reason why Change Management has so much press, software tools etc. is that unlike other processes, it is a “universal process” across all businesses, something that all businesses have in common…..

How to implement change management

I am not going to actually say “this is how you should implement change management”, rather I would suggest that you make sure you have a structured process in place for change management at worst, and a highly adaptive one at best. It is a little weird, as change management is a great argument for adaptive and highly flexible BPM, with initial processes being identified, only to adapt to the requirements of each individual type of change identified within an organisation. Change management, and the way the business goes about change, needs to be very flexible based on each type of change the business is undergoing…. This is why, when implementing change management, I always suggest tying change management processes into a flexible BPM solution….

The big thing to remember is, that a piece of work within a change management process (more like processes) can be very different to the next. With this in mind, take for example the upgrade of a new physical server, the things that need doing to make this happen are very different to the things needed to change the company branding (images etc) for example. These are both forms of change, and both should be managed as such, however, the change management solution needs to be flexible enough to identify the differences between the two types of change in this very basic example…Because of this, adaptive solutions are best at helping an organisation deal with change, and more importantly deal with change quickly….

There are arguments that, formal change management controls and processes, actually slow down change, and make an organisation less flexible. This can be true if your Change Management processes are highly rigid. However, with adaptive processes, the process of change itself, can become adaptive and flexible, enough to ensure change management does not slow down the processes of change, rather ensure that change runs quickly and smoothly…

Change Management tools

I am a great believer in “tools” as long as they fit into the bigger picture. There are many change management tools out there, some of which no doubt help organisations take control of the process of change. However, when thinking about tools, always (like everything else) think how does this tool fit into our business, can it integrate with current software etc. Great tools should be able to be integrated with a good BPM platform, ensuring flexibility of the change process…

 Quick conclusion…

Change management is nothing more than a process within your organisation. Just remember that this process and the work within it, may vary highly depending on the type of change that you are undertaking. Because of this, change management processes should form an important part of your BPM process members. The BPM platform you use (if you wish to implement change management through BPM) needs to be highly flexible and adaptive to your change management needs..

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2 responses

26 05 2010
Max J. Pucher

Andrew, that is an important subject. Yes, change management can be executed through processes. But there are several aspects to change management. One of them is what is it that you want to change? Is it a single change or a group of changes that have to happen together? Are there several dependent and prerequisite steps? And so on. Yes, all of this can be done with a case management tool or a project management tool. I submit that it can not be done with orthodox BPM, except for changes that are fairly simple and repetitive.

I also submit that most changes in business ought to be goal driven and what exactly has to change is not so rigidly predefined. On the other hand the change management of BPM implemented processes and software applications is a huge issue by itself. At this point it stops to be a simple process, but it requires an executing mechanims as well that supports the planning, testing, changing and the deployment into production at a certain point in time. It also must support the rollback in case of failure. Suddenly it is a lot more than just a process.

A modern software platform must have embedded change management or IT changes turn into a nightmare. It is one of the reasons that I am not fond of Java and XML environments, because change management is such a ‘Horror on Elm Street’.

Another world is the adaptive, continuous business change being driven by the actors and process owners and in that case much of the complexity of planned change management disappears if the platform provides that ability. What remains is the necessary dependency checking and an easy to use test ‘sandbox’ environment.

26 05 2010
Andrew Smith @onedegree

I agree with everything you have said here, however I do feel that Change Management should and can live within the BPM environment. Perhaps not in the orthodox BPM sense, but none the less within the “methodology” sense of BPM.

I also agree that mordern IT should have change management in scope, and that is why I strongly support the .NET platform especially with MVVM. This enables real seperation between components when testing, with the model not knowing anything of the “view” and vice versa…

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