It's important to thoroughly vet a process before going to all the effort of improving it. Checking in with important stakeholders and customers is a critical step to undertake before the change effort.
Sometimes we live in our own little world even though we’re surrounded by plenty of team members with whom we interact on a day-to-day basis. And a process change that seems critical to getting our work done may not seem that way to others. Plus, the change could actually be detrimental to others being able to get their work done.
That’s why it’s important to clearly identify what change you are making and what is really needed from a big picture perspective before you leap with both feet.
A Change Impact Assessment (IA) can come in handy here. It will help you determine the change effect on others and where there may be issues that are risky. There are five basic steps to the IA:
Step 1: Clearly Define The Scope Of The Proposed Change
It takes a lot of time and effort to make a process change so you want to make sure you’ve clearly defined what change is proposed and how it will impact your business results. That doesn’t mean you need to get caught up in analysis paralysis, but you want to make sure you’ve addressed “what you don’t know you don’t know” so it doesn’t come back to bite you once the change is implemented.
Step 2: Identify The Differences Between The Current State and The Proposed New State
Your goal is to ensure you’ve checked in with everyone who will be impacted by the new change. Start with the current process to determine who’s involved today. Then, based on your scope for the changed process, identify who needs to be added. Get all of these people together in a meeting to discuss the proposed change and brainstorm as many differences as you possibly can. Once you’re done, consolidate what you discovered and then move on to Step 3.
Step 3: Determine Potential Effects Of the Differences
Using the same meeting participants as Step 2, use the differences the group identified and define potential effects from each one. Don’t just focus on negative effects, make sure you capture the positive ones too. Also include any information participants can share about the history of the change. Has the company tried it before? What was the impact and outcome? Is now the right time?
Step 4: Determine Risks / Mitigation Steps
Now you’ll take a look at each of those effects you identified in Step 3 and determine if there are risks associated with it. If so, you want to make sure and map out potential mitigation steps that can be taken if the decision is made to move forward with the process change.
Step 5: Decide Whether To Proceed With The Change
Now that you’ve taken a good look at the impact of a potential process change and analyzed the pros and cons along with defining what actions can be taken to mitigate any issues, it’s time to make a decision. This should be a simple go / no go.
Doing the Change Impact Assessment First Saves Time
It might seem like doing the IA is just going to extend the time it takes to complete a process change. And, yes, it does take some time to work through the steps. But in the long run, completing the IA before going "all in" to actually completing the process improvement will give you a better chance to achieve success once the new process is implemented.