The scope of your project has changed. Or perhaps new regulatory requirements have emerged. Or maybe a team has made an error that must be remedied. How does your organization manage these types of change requests? Some firms attempt to track change orders manually using emails and spreadsheets. No matter what size your company is, this approach is hard to manage and it simply doesn't scale as organizations grow.
Automating change management processes reduces costly rework and missed deadlines, saves time and money, and aids with regulatory compliance. In our experience, the firms that implement change management systems most successfully are those that follow seven best practices:
- Obtain executive buy-in. Projects run more smoothly when a senior level leader serves as a project sponsor. He or she can help remove obstacles that may arise during implementation. The sponsor can also weigh in on key decisions that the team must make.
- Organize an implementation team. Include representatives from all the affected departments. Depending on the structure of your organization, you may need team members from purchasing, engineering, manufacturing, quality, and document control. It's also essential to appoint an experienced project manager to lead the team.
- Document the organization's desired state. If you don't know what you need from a system, it's hard to implement it effectively. Before installing any hardware, take time to analyze your current change management processes and define how you would like them to look in an automated world.
- Develop an implementation plan and then stick to it. The system implementation schedule is an important component in the plan. Some firms try to align the implementation with the seasonality of the business. Introducing a new system when workloads are a bit lighter is always a good idea. Typical implementations include the following steps: installation, configuration, testing, revisions, integration with other systems, and launch.
- Maintain open communications. The project manager must keep stakeholders updated about project progress and any challenges that arise. Clear communication and expectation setting are effective ways to prevent scope creep.
- Ensure all users are properly trained. Once the system implementation is complete, training should start immediately. Firms should consider a blend of formal training, online learning tools, and self-paced courses.
- Enforce using the system. It's human nature to resist change. To ensure that employees abandon manual processes and embrace the new change management system, managers must mandate that teams use the automated solution. It may be helpful to identify a team member on each team who will serve as an advocate for the change management system and who can help and encourage his or her peers.
Automated change management systems can change organizations for the better. Since information is centralized, everyone has visibility into the data they need. More streamlined processes free employees from administrative tasks and enable them to focus on higher value activities. Many firms report higher levels of employee satisfaction, since rework is significantly reduced and people have greater transparency of information.
We've helped companies of all sizes and in diverse industries automate their change management systems. If you'd like to learn more, please contact us – we'd love to hear about your needs.