Implementing Change

Based on our experience it is often the case that businesses underestimate the impact of change on their routine operation. A failure to effectively plan an organisational change such as the implementation of a major capital project can mean a failure to achieve the project’s critical success factors and lead to some or all of the following negative impacts:

  1. Short term increased cost
  2. Organisational frustration
  3. Non-fulfilment of customer orders
  4. Loss of reputation
  5. Stress

It is normal to experience a short term dip in organisational performance whilst people adapt to their changed situation, and all new systems are implemented. The impact of organisational change is often represented in a J-Curve chart (Ref: David Viney). This chart shows the current state situation progressing through to the desired state; over time. The direct impact of the change is reflected in the dip from the current state (see diagram below). Many factors will affect the severity and duration of this performance dip.

If we consider a manufacturing scenario, contributory factors to the performance dip will include; the perceived and real impact on people involved, the quality of training provided, performance of capital equipment and associated systems and the suitability of raw materials.

Effective project management and organisational planning will minimise disruption by reducing the performance dip and appropriately managing business deliverables.

A robust project management methodology should be followed to ensure project objectives are successfully delivered. Key elements of an effective PM solution are as follows:

  1. Clear space
  2. Cost plan
  3. Team plan detailing stakeholders, team members and agreed roles and responsibilities
  4. Schedule, including work breakdown, schedule and milestone chart
  5. Communications plan (internal PM team, organisation, and stakeholders)
  6. Effective Risk Management
  7. Quality plan, including; specifications, legislation and validation
  8. Procurement plan including specifications, contractual requirements and supplier identification
  9. HSE plan
  10. Project closing process to learn the lessons

  11. Organisational support and integration into the project is vital as we must ensure that 2-way requirements and considerations are acted upon.

    The PM, with the support of the Project Sponsor, needs to track associated organisational activities to ensure milestones are met and where necessary, appropriate mitigation taken. In this manufacturing example, key activities may include; capacity planning and stock control, change management, recruitment/re-assignment planning, training and capability assessments. Careful analysis and discussions with staff must be undertaken to ensure PM team members who have routine operational roles are truly able to meet the commitments of both roles.

    In summary, it is unrealistic to expect this type of project to be implemented without a period of disruption that will impact production output. To minimise the impact of this disruption organisations must appreciate the risk involved in these endeavours and create business plans based upon realistic assumptions. Businesses need to factor in the necessary time, resources and cost required to deliver the project successfully or else they will, as the saying goes, ‘reap what they sow’.