IBM has just published a new study of change management ( http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/gbs/bus/html/gbs-making-change-work.html ) which I recommend to anyone interested in who is interested in succeeding at business process change. The report describes some of the elements that make for successful change, and points out that some 20% of the organizations reporting say that over 75% of their change efforts are successful, while over 45% report that less than half of their efforts succeed. Clearly some people are a lot better at managing change than others.
I’ve also been thinking about the difference between theory and practice. There are good models of how one facilitates change. The ProSci Change Management model, for example, defines a general theory of change and steps one needs to go through to facilitate change. The IBM report describes lots of factors that seem to be important.
The BPTrends Methodology (BPTM), on the other hand, describes a practical approach to facilitating process change in an organization. The BPTM is concerned with a variety of things, including determining the goals of the organization, establishing a project team, analyzing existing processes, defining a new to-be model, defining employee requirements for the new process, and successfully rolling-out a new process. Change management is only one piece of the overall business process change effort, even if it’s a very important piece.
The BPTM model for a process redesign project is pictured as five phases, leading to a redesigned process. Many things need to happen within each phase to assure a successful project. One of the things that needs to happen are meetings and interviews in which the redesign project team interacts with management and with employees who will need to implement the new process. The BPTM describes a core set of those meetings and establishes goals for the meetings. For example, after a set of interviews with key stakeholders there is an initial kickoff meeting to assure that everyone understands the goals of the project. Similarly, at the end of the Understand Phase of the project, there is a meeting at which the team presents the results of their initial work, and proposes a set of goals, a budget, and milestones for the next phase.
Figure 1. An overview of the phases in a BPTrends Methodology redesign project, with indications of some scheduled meetings.
If the team simply wanted to communicate technical information, there are other ways they could go about it – via memos or reports. There are other reasons for the meetings, however. In the case of meetings with management, the team wants to gage support, assure that people know each other and feel free to talk about the project, and identify potential resistance to the project, or to the proposed changes. In a similar way, when the team meets with employees, it wants to explain why the effort is necessary and important, what is likely to be done, and what changes might result. They also want to establish communications and to identify objections likely to be raised.
In other words, many of the explicit goals of the interviews and meetings scheduled by the process redesign team are drawn directly from change management theory. Where theory states that objections ought to be identified and discussed, the BPTM defines specific opportunities to gather information about objections and to discuss potential objections.
In a similar way, the BPTM approach incorporates quite a bit of motivational theory. The process team examines employee attitudes the consequences that follow typical employee behaviors. In some cases, for example, employees don’t believe specific tasks are part of their jobs. In other cases employees don’t get any feedback or recognition for doing things that are important to the organization, or, worse, are punished for doing things that the organization says it is trying to encourage. These problems occur for various reasons. In some cases the employees don’t have a proper understanding of their job responsibilities and need training to rectify that. In many cases the supervisor or manager of the employees isn’t doing a good job of providing feedback and reinforcement, and training for supervisors or managers is required.
These considerations are built into the BPTM problem analysis checklists, and prescriptions for incorporating them into process redesigns are included at appropriate places in the methodology. In essence, the team might consider a software development effort, if it identifies an activity that would benefit from automation. Or, it might consider managerial training if it determined that employees needed better feedback and more reinforcement for specific behaviors.
At this point we have only looked at specific process redesigns. We haven't considered the more dramatic transformations that really change the way an organization does business. In principle they follow a similar pattern, although they involve a lot more negotiation with managers and employees, since the scope of the changes are larger. In all cases, change management is a key element of any process redesign effort and any comprehensive BPM methodology needs to work in change management into the redesign steps to assure it is done in an effective manner that's compatible with other elements required to effect business change.