Heraclitus said it best when he stated, “The only thing that is constant is change.” Change is constant in our daily lives, and yet, often, we try to avoid it in business. If we truly embrace the idea of continuous improvement, not only is change to be expected, it is necessary to help us attain more efficient and productive ways of working. So why do most implementation teams find change to be a dirty word?
The dichotomy of continuous improvement through change and the scope/schedule/cost implications of change during implementation is an admittedly difficult one to bridge. To properly consider the pro’s and con’s of change, we must first acknowledge that not all change is good or necessary. Many implementation teams refer to this step as performing an Impact Analysis A thorough Impact Analysis should address more than the scope/schedule/cost implications; it should also document the reason for the change. Going back to our understanding that not all change is good and necessary, a change that is being requested to help sustain a broken business process is less desirable than a change that is being made in support of a new, more efficient way of working.
Another consideration is that some will view changes with an eye towards negative scope/schedule/cost impacts. What if we consider change as an opportunity to shorten a project schedule or reduce costs? Let’s ask ourselves a bit on why we do not see more positive change requests during implementations. I have a couple of theories on this:
- We cling to what we know; therefore, many change requests relate to forcing a new application to function in the same manner that a legacy application did.
- The term Change Request is viewed as negative from the start of most implementations.
Imagine an implementation where changes that produced the most positive impact on implementation schedule/cost or produced measurable benefits to the business were not only rewarded, but encouraged. It follows that we would then ask ourselves, what level of positive change can a project team be expected to absorb? To answer this question, let’s set a few parameters. The first parameter is that if we are to envision an environment where positive change is encouraged, we must assume that the organization is open to changes in business process. A continuously improving organization must be open to the fact that there may be more efficient ways of conducting business, and that business process adjustments that not only increase productivity but also reduce the required technology configuration and customization are worth implementing. The second parameter required is an implementation methodology that allows for the easy incorporation of changes. A change positive methodology must have the following characteristics:
- Minimal design documentation requirements to prevent rework.
- A process for continuous feedback to application configuration.
- Business Process reviews in the context of the application, meaning application walk-throughs need to be from a business perspective and include the business.
- An assigned Product Owner who sets priorities and keeps the team focused on high benefit deliverables.
- A process for managing implementation changes that is easily communicated and followed.
Organizations that implement a change positive mentality to implementations gain advantages by being able to redirect technical resources and focus to activities that deliver high value to the business. Business team members will be more receptive to change and will feel more empowered to make business process improvements during implementations. At EBUSINESS STRATEGIES, we focus on building a change positive culture and the results are always amazing. Valuing positive change has changed the way we deliver our services.
The need for positive implementation changes is what sparked the creation of the EBUSINESS STRATEGIES e3 methodology. Our project teams support timed change discussions during the project and tackle work in small packages with frequent client reviews to ensure we can accommodate changes that will make a difference to business productivity. In fact, our e3 methodology is reviewed frequently to ensure that the process itself is in a continuous improvement cycle. We have seen positive change work! For those who are interested in adopting positive change, at your next project status meeting, ask the team, does anyone have any ideas that could reduce schedule/costs and if so, what is needed to bring the idea to fruition. You may be surprised by the results!