Did That Process Change Work? Four Steps to Better Processes

by Alan S. Koch, Certified ITIL Expert, PMP, CSM, CTM

In the last two posts, we tackled the issue of process change and the steps necessary to make modifications and ensure they stick. So far we have listed:

  1. Define your process goals
  2. Identify informative metrics

Once the metrics have been defined, we have targets at which to aim. Unfortunately, the targets mean nothing if we don’t identify the starting point.

3. Establish the Baseline

With our goals and metrics identified, we’re almost ready to make some changes. Almost!

The last step in preparation is to collect the metrics on our current process, before we make any changes. This is an easy step to skip, especially if the need for a change is pressing. But without these baseline measures, how will we know if our changes had the desired effect?

You might argue that it will be “obvious” if things get better, but this is problematic for several reasons. For example:

  • People generally find process changes to be disruptive to their work, so they may judge the experiment as a failure when in fact it is producing the desired effect.
  • If things appear to be “a little better”, that will raise questions about whether it will be “worth it” to continue with the new process.
  • In some circumstances, when the current process is very painful, people may judge any change to be “good”, whether it actually achieved the intended results or not.

The good news is that you may be able to glean your baseline metrics from information that is already available in your records. That would give you the benefit of a clear baseline without postponing implementing a change.

But even if you find that you must collect the metrics from scratch, you still may not experience a significant delay. Deciding on how the process will be changed, then preparing the necessary guidance, forms, procedures and systems can take significant time. If you are collecting your baseline data while you are doing this process development, then your new process and your baseline data may be ready at about the same time.

Ignoring this step makes it difficult to counter the naysayers and raises the difficulty of providing objective results.

The last step in the process is to define how long measurement will last. This will be the topic of the fourth and final post. While you wait for the final entry, take a few minutes and let me know how you have managed your stakeholders’ perception of change and how you have been able to shift their perspective in a positive manner.

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