"It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see." Winston Churchill

In most cases, complex projects by their very nature require the use of multiple functional and technical disciplines to achieve project goals. However, these projects are often pursued using a single approach, driven down a road that is too narrow to realize the benefits of employing a comprehensive, collaborative framework. Whether a project involves systems or data integration, adoption of mobile computing technologies, managing content on portals, or improving business performance through process improvements, resulting Organizational Change Management (OCM) implications are often overlooked. It is at these ‘OCM Crossroads' where the impacts of impending changes are found, requiring the diligence to develop action plans and strategies. However, more often than not, employing OCM techniques on a project turns out to be the ‘road less travelled', or worse, the road ignored.

The challenge is that OCM is often viewed by executives as valuable in the abstract and not valuable enough to consistently dedicate resources. The claim is that standard OCM techniques, such as using surveys, focus groups, and change agent/champion teams provide only qualitative data about the nature and impact of the impending change, but do not provide 'hard' data necessary for decision-makers to make timely decisions. However, a recent process engineering project with a Fortune 100 Consumer Products Manufacturing company validates the fact that OCM can be supported by hard data. The business situation involved a new operating company acquisition where the combination of minimal integration efforts and a lack of end-to-end business process mapping resulted in the inability to develop an action plan that could be quantified and prioritized.

The project involved employing Process Engineering (PE) tools and Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) standards to build an overall business process framework and comprehensive end-to-end business process documentation for all existing "Order to Cash" (OTC) processes. The approach included preliminary discussions with process OTC SMEs, and facilitated "discovery" sessions with OTC stakeholders. As previously discussed in the blog "Playing Hide and Seek in Process Discussions," holistic process discussions involve uncovering the root causes of process gaps. The ‘hide and seek' effort on this project was no exception, as several root causes to process gaps and challenges were revealed by both business and IT stakeholders, and documented for action. Armed with hard, actionable data, the company now finds itself at the OCM Crossroads, deliberately moving down the ‘road less travelled' having

  • Identified Business owners for all OTC processes
  • Established a Steering Committee to discuss, prioritize, document, and determine the impact of new process changes, and
  • Employed data to quantify people, process, and technology gaps, resulting in a decision by Executive Management to expedite a core system replacement project based on a strategic vision.

In the case of PE at the OCM Crossroads, this approach will result in the concrete data needed to support going down this road, resulting in the discovery of where new skills are required, where changes to existing roles may need to occur, and where restructuring of the organization may be necessary.

However, it is important to keep in mind that data is useless unless it is used for information, and information is useless unless it can be used to make informed decisions. Broader examples of OCM decisions made based on PE information could include:

  • Role changes based on process changes, and the impact those changes can have on workloads
  • Staffing changes needed to execute process changes, which in turn will inform training needs, longer-term talent management requirements, and organizational alignment activities to ensure the change will sustain itself over time

When a project arrives at the OCM Crossroads, though, "…it is difficult to look further than you can see." Churchill expands upon this sentiment in another quote from a speech during the tense years of WWII when he described how his government needed to respond to each crisis: "Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning."

Decision makers who provide their project teams with the freedom and resources to employ a combination of OCM and PE techniques can help make the journey clearer for everyone.