5 Important Considerations for Your Next Change Management Initiative

By ETQ on March 21, 2017
Change management plan diagram

Research shows a full 70 percent of organizational change projects fail, a statistic which has remained at the same level since the 1970s. It’s one reason why so many companies are hesitant to implement changes, even when the potential upside is big.

Whether you’re looking at large-scale process change, new people or even installing new equipment, risk-based change management provides a road map for avoiding problems and capitalizing on new opportunities.

In this post, we’ll look at 5 important considerations to help your next change management initiative be successful.

Who Needs to Be Involved?

It goes without saying that you need management commitment and buy-in for any change project to succeed. But what does that really mean? In practical terms, it means having the resources to back up the project in terms of money, time and personnel.

Questions to focus on here include:

Who is leading the effort? Somebody needs to be in charge and accountable for the outcomes of the change management process.
Who needs to buy in for the program to be successful? This could include the C-suite, management and hourly workers, all of which may require a different communications strategy.
Who knows the most about on-the-ground conditions? Many projects fail because they neglect to incorporate information from those who know the most about how a project would best be implemented. A front-line worker, for example, might know more about the best location for a new piece of equipment.
Underlying all of these questions is the issue of how you will collaborate on the project. Using Quality Management Software as a hub for planning and executing the change management initiative can provide a convenient way to collaborate while building a record of the process.

What Is Your Vision?

For any change management initiative to work, you must make a convincing case for the change, communicating the benefits regularly to the team. Collaborating on the ideal future state helps ensure everyone is on the same page, giving you a common set of terms, strategies and goals to guide the project. Creating this vision also makes it possible to explore different options for achieving your goals.

What Are the Hazards, Risks and Obstacles?

One of the central goals of change management is being able to pursue new opportunities in a way that reduces risk. Part of the change management process is identifying hazards and other roadblocks, assessing the risk and implementing controls where appropriate.

For example, let’s look again at installing a new piece of equipment. Perhaps installing in a particular location might change the pattern of work on the factory floor in a way that puts workers at risk. Or maybe the configuration doesn’t work because the machine emits exhaust right next to an air intake on the outside of the building.

Using Risk Management tools such as a risk matrix can help guide your decision-making by allowing you to quantify risk of a given hazard or harm. Other tools like a decision tree can provide tailored guidance based on yes/no questions, while Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) at the design phase allows you to calculate risks and costs associated with various options.

How Will You Manage the Process?

Executing change efficiently is important, otherwise you’re looking at increased cycle times, scrap and rework as you work through the new process. Automated Change Management Software within your QMS can help streamline the transition, controlling the flow of work and helping you manage deadlines to keep things on track.

How Will You Address The Human Element?

When you’re talking about process change, success or failure is dictated by whether or not others engage with the new changes. But the human element is a huge variable, and not accounting for company culture is a big reason why many change management projects fail.

Will your employees work together to help you achieve your vision, or will they ultimately be a barrier to change? Planning and anticipating the human element of your change management initiative can help you be better prepared. And really, that’s what change management is all about—being prepared for the different possibilities, so you can chart the best path forward towards success.