Change management or process improvement is the means used to evaluate current processes, assess needed improvements and implement sound solutions. Good change management tools assure that the whole effort goes smoothly.
Inherent in change management is that word that many dread, “change”. Although change is inevitable, it is often not welcome. For effective change management, a good set of tools and theories must be in place to assure that everyone understands and supports the effort – the organization, its customers and employees.
We have discussed the theory of change management here. So what are the change management tools that are needed to maximize results?
First key change management tool: flowcharting
Flowcharting is a tool that lays out any process as an easy to read and easy to use diagram. The value of flowcharts is in taking complex processes and simplifying them. Take any set of Lego™ instructions and imagine it in words instead of pictures and you get the idea.
Flowcharts are an essential change management tool. First, in flowcharting the current process, team members are able to map out the process clearly, discover where waste and rework are happening that they could not see before, and frequently identify quick and effective changes that can be made to improve the process.
After the current process is flowcharted, process improvement work kicks in to identify rubs or problems and brainstorm new, innovative solutions. The new process is then flowcharted.
Finally, flowcharting can be used effectively to train staff in the new process. In documenting the steps and links between employees and departments in a process as a flowchart, training employees on the changes is vastly simplified.
Change management tool #2: Metrics and data collection
Math, graphing, data…another set of words that can be as intimidating as “change”! But data is critical to the success of a change management effort. Having meaningful data collected on the original process with metrics designed to display that data is the only way to determine if the new process is a significant improvement. People can “feel better” about it. But feeling better is not usually a strong enough argument to justify the time or expense of a change management initiative. Both leadership paying the bills and employees asked to undergo change need hard data to prove that it is worth their energy and effort.
Below are metrics we recommend you produce for the existing process and the new process in your change management efforts. The measures are applicable whether you are in the service industry or manufacturing, government sector or private enterprise. The key is to think about what the measure is asking and how that can be interpreted for your organization. Additional metrics specific to your process are also essential, but these are core measures that reveal much about the health and improvement within a process:
- Cycle Time: The average elapsed time from beginning to end of a process.
- Range of Cycle Time: The shortest and longest cycle times and the percentage of cycles with shortest and longest times.
- Throughput: The number of units flowing through the process for a given time period (a week, a month, a year, for example). For example, “units” could be people moving through the clinic or number of packages received for shipment.
- Errors: The percentage of units that require rework. For example, errors could include appointment scheduling glitches, lost phone calls, product that cannot be sold, etc.
- Number of FTE’s: The number of full-time equivalent employees involved in production of existing throughput (calculated by summing the percentage of a work week each person involved in the process spends on that process).
To learn more about metrics visit our organizational metrics page, and check out the links at the bottom for additional materials.
Change management tool #3: project planning
The final tool we feel is an essential piece of a good change management initiative is a clear project plan. Often a change initiative requires many people working in many areas of the organization implementing different pieces simultaneously. A coordinating document that lays out how the new process will be rolled out, “who is doing what where and when”, is critical.
We have an article on the features of a good project management template in here.
Each of these tools alone will greatly help the effectiveness and efficiency of a change initiative. If you are interested in learning more about any of the tools above, drop us an e-mail or give us a call at (877) 276-4414. We would be happy to give you some pointers to get you started.