The best management of change programs often look alike in several important ways.
Managing change in any organization is really all about managing risk. Because modifying or redesigning one area of a business can easily impact other areas as well, it’s important to have a process in place to ensure that you’re driving positive results.
With that in mind, and with regulators often demanding it, many organizations rely on a formal management of change program to handle changes efficiently and systematically. Through MoC they gain a system of checks and balances that can help them understand the up- or downstream impacts of a change. They also get a way to capitalize on opportunities—to fully realize the benefits of the changes that they’ve made.
Here, we’ll take a look at the core requirements of an effective and resilient management of change program: the questions that stakeholders should ask and answer to get their MoC initiative off the ground, and then, the key phases of the MoC workflow—and why each phase is critical to program success.
First Step: Ask the Right Questions
While every MoC program is different, the best begin with a strong foundation built around the answers to four important questions.
What are you managing control of?
Equipment? Documents? Processes and materials? Some organizations design their MoC programs to help them manage a single area or department, while others look to develop a program that will work for a broad range of categories. Determine exactly what you want to do and adjust your scope accordingly.
Who is involved?
Who should participate in your MoC program? Are there certain stakeholders within your organization who will need to provide approval throughout the MoC process?
What are the process components?
We’ll cover this in detail below, but this is where you should take the time to map out your MoC workflow. When someone makes a change request, what questions do they need to answer first? Is a pre-startup safety review (PSSR) checklist among your requirements? If so, what comes next?
How do we measure success?
What data will you use to understand whether your MoC program is working? You’ll also need a way to collect that data and process it in a way that makes it easy to understand.
Key Considerations in MoC Program Design
- Workflow: This varies depending on the nature of the change (simple vs. complex, for ex.).
- Roles/stakeholders: Be sure to involve those who will be impacted by the change.
- Checklists: Use questions and to-do checklists to guide the MoC process.
- Metadata: Use data to measure success of your MoC program.
- Actions tracking: Develop methods to clearly track and document progress to completion.
- Program adoption: Start simple and evolve the program over time to encourage buy-in from employees. Provide training and solicit stakeholder feedback for how processes might be improved.
Ready to Go: Break it into Phases
Once these foundational questions are answered, the next order of business is to develop your MoC workflow. The goal should be to implement a process that is not only simple and efficient, but iterative and easily auditable. It should allow you to verify that when a change occurs, correct information is collected and evaluated. It should also ensure that all actions resulting from MoC are completed properly and on time.
Here, again, the best MoC workflows typically include four distinct phases.
Phase 1: Initiate
The process begins with a change request: The initiator submits their proposal to the MoC administrator and other stakeholders, providing details on the change they’d like to make. If applicable, they should also include information on their design basis, and they should conduct an impact analysis to determine how the change will affect the organization.
Phase 2: Evaluate
The change request is reviewed by stakeholders and subject matter experts, who may approve it as it stands or provide feedback on the proposal and ask that it be revised. Eventually, someone in the organization provides the final sign-off to go ahead with the change.
Phase 3: Implement
Here’s where the change is actually made. Depending on the nature of the change, it could entail a lengthy process (with the need for a PSSR, for example), or it might happen in a matter of minutes. In some cases, employee training may be required.
Phase 4: Close
As the change request record is finalized and closed out, it’s important to ensure you’ve documented every step of the change process. This is also the point where many organizations choose to conduct audits or effectiveness checks.
Make Your Job Easy: Put Technology to Work
At every stage of a MoC program, you’ll have data to collect, records to keep, actions to track, and reports to file. One way to simplify this work: Digitize every aspect of the process.
When you leverage technology in support of MoC, everything you need is at your fingertips. The MoC workflow proceeds automatically, with everyone involved on the same page. Communication between stakeholders is instantaneous. Buy-in is encouraged because the process is easy.
The best MoC programs use digital tools to drive improvement across the organization. Because there’s better visibility into changes that are proposed and made, key steps in the MoC workflow are unlikely to be skipped. When data are missing, or a record is inconsistent—or an effectiveness review shows that a change had an impact that wasn’t expected—all of that is spelled out front and center with a click on a dashboard on the stakeholder’s screen.
What this does, of course, is help your organization run a MoC program that will really make a difference. You’ll have a better handle on risk management because you’ll see potential issues as soon as they arise, and you’ll have what you need to optimize your processes and ensure approved changes are seen through to completion.
Even the best MoC program can’t guarantee that every change will go exactly according to plan. A good one, however, will certainly help by making change management part of your organization’s culture.