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Tag: Change Management

Toolbelts in Times of Change

The kinds of organizational, environmental, and personal shifts that happen during changes on the global scale are both long-lasting and far-reaching.

A thorough approach is needed, not only to consider all impacts but also to plan the path of success. 

Business analysts can leverage specific approaches during times of significant change to help an organization put its best foot forward and effectively arrive on the other side of transformation. 

Adapt with Tools and Techniques

Business analysis tools and techniques that were successful in one circumstance may not be the ones best suited to a new environment. For example, the recent global pandemic reveals that many organizations are suddenly faced with having to forge new paths through uncharted territory in a technology-based virtual landscape. Meeting rooms, face-to-face interviews, and lunch workshops turned into IM chats and video conference calls while juggling pets and children in the virtual professional world. 

When left a new environment, a first impression may be one that sees a large number of limitations. The reality though, is that business analysis has many prescribed techniques that can be leveraged in a way that promotes elicitation and collaboration to thrive.

Explore the tools and technology available in your organization and it may be found that workshops can be easily adapted to video conferencing, where presentation software can still be used through screen sharing, where content does not require a great deal of edits. Understand the difference that a virtual environment provides, and you may find that brainstorming sessions may help typically shy stakeholders feel more comfortable participating in a call-in style dynamic, where they may not feel as “on the spot”.


Teams Move Mountains

The year 2020 saw many professional landscapes change. For many, physical buildings, water coolers and coffee machines turned into laptops, video conferencing, and screen sharing. Keeping stakeholders and project teams engaged with so much personal distraction is a delicate balance, but during such a significant global event, changing networks can create new meaningful connections. For example, individuals all balancing different personal lives and home situations may lead to changed work hours, which may shift team dynamics. Look for new ways to carry networks and connect with teams. Differing schedules may create ad-hoc availability and facilitate the possibility for an unstructured interview with a key stakeholder, where a typical schedule would not have allowed. 

Keeping teams engaged through the current state while projecting a future state amidst significant personal distractions takes a great deal of resiliency and organization. With some strategy and planning, the virtual environment can be one that allows for new meaningful connections with stakeholders, organized execution of goals, and winning arrivals at deadlines!

Allow team dynamics to have organic and healthy changes, and understand that these shared and lived experiences can add to cohesion, communication, and trust, which are all important characteristics of successful teams!

The Bigger Picture

Change is normal. While professionals are always encouraged to understand the inevitability of change and transformation, circumstance adds a factor that can magnify the impact and see the change as daunting and stressful. This is where conducting gap analyses with forward-thinking approaches can set the tone for initiatives of all sizes. Staying on course with momentum when considering current and future states can not only keep progress timely but can keep a change strategy effective. Stay on track of taking steps forward, even slower paced ones at times, and it will soon be found that you and your team are achieving the higher hanging fruit.

Changes during Changes

The world is a dynamic, fluid, and inconsistent experience. Keeping these few things in mind and approach can help transition yourself and your enterprise through the winds of change to a successful outcome:

  • Leverage your environment
  • Strength is in numbers
  • Keep your eye on the ball

The probable can be planned – the improbable is not usually part of the plan, but can have a significant impact. Keeping your professional and personal tool belt well-equipped with adaptable techniques can help yourself and your teams move toward that gold on the horizon.

The Contribution of Business Analysis in a Successful Change

Change is everywhere. From small to bigger scale change is a fact.

Going from a current state to a future state is something that occurs frequently in the liquid and challenging business environment. Redefining a process, changing the timeline of a project, establishing a new common practice that will be followed or daily routine, removing or adding a feature to a product or changing the hierarchical structure of a division are examples of change. However in this article we are going to focus on more system/product related changes.

Generally speaking there are two types of changes. The proactive and the reactive ones. Proactive changes reveal a strategic wisdom and can have more controlled results that the reactive ones that many times are spasmodic and urgent. Proactive changes in general allow more time for preparation and also are characterized by a higher level of freedom and creativity than the reactive types of change.

Business analysis field can contribute to the design and implementation of a successful change. Supporting beneficial changes that will deliver additional value with the need to protect customers and users from the adverse effect of changes, is something that may be achieved with the contribution of certain BA activities.

Analyze Current State:

Business analysts examine the current state in the context of the business need to understand what may influence proposed changes, and what will be affected by them[1]. Describing as much accurate as possible the as-is landscape in crucial in order all engaged parts in th change process have a clear understanding of what the situation is right now. The key benefit of this process is that it provides a sufficient understanding of the existing state of the organization, providing context for determining which elements of the current state will remain unchanged and which changes are necessary to achieve the future state[2]. Ηowever a holistic view is more than necessary as a change may indirectly affect certain aspects that must be included in the scope of current state analysis.


Define Future State:

Try to define the future state in realistic, clear, understandable and agreed among all stakeholders’ terms. Future state must meet the business needs. Having in mind the business justification that is accompanied with every aspect of future state is crucial in order to provide a future state description that is aligned with the Goals and objectives that are defined by the project board or change committee.

Define Change Strategy:

How the company is going to achieve to be landscape? What are the alternatives and what is the most dominant alternative after the evaluation and ranking? The appropriate representation of a change strategy depends on the perspective of the change team and their stakeholders. The change strategy might be presented as part of a business case, Statement of Work (SOW), an enterprise’s strategic plan, or in other formats.

All changes should be assessed by people who are able to understand the risks and the expected benefits; the changes must then be authorized before they are deployed. This assessment, however, should not introduce unnecessary delay. Business Analysis activities are crucial in order the change committee or project board proceed to decisions. Having all the possible information available and the agreed between stakeholders views the executives with the change authority are going to approve or not the proposed change strategy and to initialize next phases of the change process.

[1] BABOK®

[2] The PMI Guide to Business Analysis

Creative Dispute Α Business Analyst’s Personal Characteristic

A business analyst has to continuously ask questions and to critically translate the information they collect into clear needs and requirements.

It’s the inner trigger that has to lead a professional to find the deep problems and to reveal the actuals needs of stakeholders. A business analyst is not only a recorder of needs and requirements. They have to critically evaluate different needs and to confirm that the actual problems and their causes are fullfield by the suggested solutions. A pathetic view and record here is not enough. Critically judging and sometimes challenging the status quo can lead to meaningful solutions that will add value to all stakeholders and a win-win outcome will be possible.

Creative Dispute and asking questions can be applied across all the business analysis pipeline. For example:

Business Justification:

The business justification is the reason for the project and for the business analysis work concerning the project. Without it no project should start. If business justification is valid at the start of a project, but disappears once it is under way, the project should be stopped or changed. An analyst must have always in mind what is the aim of the project and which actual needs is fulfilling. They have to continuously ask if this action or step is aligned will the overall project scope and if it is meaningful.


Tailoring- Plan Business Analysis Approach:

Αs a business analyst you have to continuously ask where the standard methodology can be applied. What we have to tailor and what parameterizations are needed in order to have the best outcome? This is an ongoing question.

Business analysis pipeline involves selecting the appropriate business analysis processes, tools, techniques, inputs, and outputs for use on a specific portfolio, program, or project. The business analyst performs this selection activity in collaboration with the project manager, sponsor, functional managers, other business analysts, or some combination thereof.

Analyze Current State:

As a business analyst you need to describe accurate and realistic the current state. Assess Current State is the process of examining the current environment to understand important factors that are internal or external to the organization, which may be the cause or reason for a problem or opportunity. The key benefit of this process is that it provides a sufficient understanding of the existing state of the organization, providing context for determining which elements of the current state will remain unchanged and which changes are necessary to achieve the future state. Which are the current state and the non-obvious visible competencies that can lead to success?

Elicit Requirements- Confirm Elicitation Results:

Ηere you have to actively try to obtain information from stakeholders and confirm the results. It’s not only to keep notes of the information and to track the requirements. You have to critically evaluate the aspirations expressed by stakeholders and to form clearly the requirements in a way that support the actual business need(s). Confirm Elicitation Results activity involves ensuring that stakeholders have a shared understanding of the outcomes of elicitation, that elicited information is recorded appropriately, and that the business analyst has the information sought from an elicitation activity.

Business Analysis is the field where critical questioning and challenging is the basis of the everyday tasks. Challenging well established formulas and approaches is something that may lead to better outcomes.

Change Management in Project Delivery

A key deliverable of Business analysis in transformation projects is a successful roll-out of the Change.

Rolling out Change is a far outcry, and easier said than done. In Large organisations, rolling out the Change in an acceptable way and the associated communication about the delivery of the Change is as vital if not more important when stacked up against other deliverables in a Project. In the past, it has been noticed that when organisations could not deliver the transformation as successfully as they wished for, one of the primary reasons was that effective change management and change delivery was not among the top priorities.

It has resulted in end consumers of Change, disillusioned with the upcoming Change. Many a time, this has lead to resistance towards Change adoption, and in a few rare situations’ organisations had to revert the changes. When a change roll-out is shelved, it takes more than expected resolve and grit to take them out and re-deploy. Time has moved since it was suspended, and so does the priorities and resources.

I’ve listed below a few of the best practices that Business Analysts/Change Analysts can follow to get a more successful outcome when it comes to change roll-out and associated communications.

Impact Analysis: Firstly, conduct an Impact analysis to review what is changing, the scale of the Change, and assess the impact the Change will have on the Organisation and Consumers of the Change. The outcome of this impact analysis can be documented along with the business requirements or can be managed separately based on the project delivery approach.

As part of Impact analysis, the first step would be to conduct a high-level review to identify the impacted touchpoints. Once touchpoints are established, the next step is to identify the impact. In simpler terms, determine what is changing in the system, process, collateral, organisational structure, or people? Or any other implications such as increased or decreased workload.

Sentiment Survey: An excellent methodology to start this assessment process is to identify how people perceive the up-coming Change, a survey would provide a starting point. An important aspect to note that the study should not exceed more than 3 Questions (Ideally 1) and an optional comment section. Analyse the outcome and categorise that into five buckets viz Exciting, Happy, Comfortable, Worried, Sad.

When a certain number of feedbacks is in the last two categories, that is “Worried” or “Sad” that would provide fair food for thought for the project team. This feedback will clearly articulate the upcoming challenges and would set the tone for the Project on how to overcome this challenge. This methodology is more preventive rather than a detective. Once this survey is complete, that would set the premise for the next steps.

Identify Impacted Population: The next step is to identify the impacted consumers of the Change. This exercise must be completed at initial stages, ideally as a precursor in the project initiation phase, and will set the baseline for future scope of work. You can, however, continue to refine this outcome during the life cycle of the project delivery.

As-Is Analysis: Once the baseline is defined, the next step is to hit the As-is and to-be state definition. An As-is assessment is more important to set the tone to understand the change context and content of what activities are performed today and establish the magnitude of Change when compared against the to-be state. Unless clearly articulated, one cannot be sure to ascertain what is going to change for consumer/stakeholder when we move from current state A to future state B.


Stakeholder Engagement: This is the next logical step in the set of activities. Engage with stakeholders/delegates who are the end consumers of the Change to understand how best the Change can be delivered seamlessly with no or little disruption. Be diligent in ensuring that those conversations align with the overall organisational strategy. Project stakeholders and delegates are vital to endorse end-user feedback. Getting buy-in from the right set of stakeholders is a necessity to deliver successful project outcomes

Change Strategy: The objective of this step is to outlay the change delivery strategy. The strategy should call out for 1. Impacted Areas, 2. Stakeholders 3. What is changing? 4. How the roll-out would be perceived, 5. Mode of change roll-out, 6. What uplifts are required – who needs to be told and 7. What needs to be said. 8. Change content, and 9—the Change delivery vehicle.

A well-articulated Change strategy helps establish the next set of deliverables and work items.

Change Content: There are two primary artefacts in this space. (a) Communications of the Change and (b) Content of the Change. Communication is about how you say to the consumers about Change. It can be in one or many forms. Change Analysts must identify the best methodology that suits their project delivery timelines and budget.

Few of the communication mediums are

  1. Emails
  2. SMS
  3. Notifications,
  4. Flyers
  5. Bulletins on Internal / External websites
  6. Video messages from Leadership teams on upcoming Change

Similarly, with the content, there is a wide array of how the information is shared. Again a few stock standard mediums are

  1. Help files
  2. Animated Videos
  3. PowerPoint packs
  4. Reference Guides
  5. FAQs
  6. Dictionaries/Procedures

8. Training: There may be situations where it may become essential to train the users on the upcoming transformation/Change. There are generally a few ways to deliver that.

  1. Train the trainer: When the complexity of the Change is high, or the volume of people impacted is high, a reasonable approach to train people across locations and geographies is to upskill a select group of people and cascade that downwards till everyone has been trained.
  2. Train the end-user: Use this methodology when there are limited end-users, but it is a must to provide them with some form of training which they can attend, to better understand and participate in the upcoming Change.
  3. Learning Modules: When the methodologies, as mentioned above, are deemed as not fit to purpose, one may consider publishing a training course or a Learning module. A Learning module provides flexibility and creativity that is required to upskill the people. It can be set as one with/without a test and can make it a compulsory or optional training based on the scope and scale of Change.

To summarise, change roll-outs are vital to successful project deliveries. Projects that invest in change management are more focused on ensuring a hearty handshake between Project and its target audience. Those projects generally are poised to more successful outcomes compared to ones where change management is not a consideration.

Business Process Changes During a Pandemic

What a difference a couple of months can make! I visited a doctor’s office in early March to treat a broken finger before the covid-19 shutdowns had begun across America.

Like any other clinic, no one wore masks. There were no social distancing measures in place. My doctor extended his hand to shake mine (I gave him an elbow bump in return). There was hand sanitizer available, but that had been the practice over several years of flu outbreaks.

Fast forward two months and consider a follow-up appointment of mine in mid-May. Walking into the clinic was comforting because all the staff and other patients had masks on (but also a little disconcerting). Extensive signage told us the rules, such as waiting in line 6 feet apart. Several chairs in the waiting area were blocked off to enforce social distancing. There were boxes for sanitized and for “used” pens to reduce the spread of germs.

Another change from March was the presence of a “scribe” to assist the doctor with recording notes and observations. This procedure is still relatively new to medicine and may or may not have been precipitated by the pandemic. Still, it was a noticeable change from March, and given my love of process, I even mentioned it to the two of them. My non-expert view is it may reduce the spread of germs since the doctor does not need to handle a computer during a visit.

By now you may be wondering what this has to do with process change. Consider the following five categories for any business which must interact in person with its customers, whether or not they may be ill.

1. Increased risk and liability.

When governmental shutdowns and sheltering in place began, medical facilities closed too. My original follow-up appointment in April was cancelled because of the shutdown. Running a business during a pandemic increases the risk that customers and employees may infect others or may become infected themselves. Visiting or working at a business during a pandemic, whether a clinic or grocery store or gas station, involves some risk.

But what about a medical clinic or emergency room in which a visit is not exactly optional? If an establishment is lax in their procedures or can be shown to be negligent in protecting patients, then a lawsuit may be the result. In short, heightened risks during a pandemic are strong incentives for strengthening business processes to avoid liability.

2. Procedure complications.

The clinic I attended in May had some visible procedure changes and I am sure there were many I could not observe. The physical space was altered with extensive signage and floor markings to encourage social distancing. Simple procedures to provide “clean” and “used” pens for patient safety were small but thoughtful (and appreciated) steps added to the clinic’s daily routine. When I had an x-ray in March for my finger, they simply plopped my hand down on the machine. Two months later a staff person was there to sanitize the surface for my x-ray and undoubtedly before the next patient. Those were just some of the noticeable changes. I am sure the clinic, like airlines, drug stores, or post offices to name a few, must perform additional cleaning and sanitizing not needed pre-pandemic.


3. Increased communications.

Before my visit I received numerous texts and emails explaining what to expect and what was required during my visit. Most of the messaging pertained to wearing masks and distancing which was not done two months ago. It was comforting to me as the customer to get this communication during the pandemic.

My wife and I recently had some electrical work done at our house. The electrician’s company also sent out several texts and emails about their procedures for protecting us and our house from possible germs. We appreciated that and called to clarify one point.

Setting up the communications for the clinic and the electrician may have been a one-time event, but I am sure it still took many hours to perform. As conditions change, so will the communications need to be altered. Having developed and overseen a great deal of customer communication in my career, I know it is a regular part of business. However, having an external trigger like a pandemic represents opportunity costs and delays other kinds of productive work.

4. Added expense.

The additional processes and procedures mentioned earlier will increase the expense of the business who must perform them. Unless an organization has excess capacity in its workforce, they either need to pay overtime or hire additional employees or contract laborers to do the cleaning and sanitizing. Adding scribes in a clinic to help control germs is an added expense.

The supplies needed to operate in a pandemic also increase expenses. Our local grocery store has added plastic barriers in addition to supplying employees with protective masks and sanitizing supplies. They spray and disinfect the check-out lanes between each customer, adding to their expense.

5. Reduced revenue and profits.

With an increase in cost and potentially a decrease in revenue, profits are bound to decrease. Some examples include:

  • Reduced number of patient appointments in a medical clinic to maintain distancing.
  • A national warehouse store we shop at limits the number of customers in their store at any one time to minimize spreading of infections. They still have a steady stream of people waiting to get in, having waited in line with scores of others 45 minutes to access the store recently.
  • Training companies like ours will need to limit attendees to in-person classes to allow proper distancing or will be forced to conduct virtual-only classes.

Any business that limits the number of customers for safety reasons will expect a decrease in revenue. That can be mitigated by online sales for retailers or training companies, but some organizations like chiropractors, beauty parlors, or barbershops cannot replicate what they do in an online fashion. Along with an increase in expenses, profits will decrease which in turn will cause other detrimental effects such as layoffs or closures.

A pandemic is a pressing and urgent stimulus for many process changes. Some of the changes will likely disappear in time, such as mask wearing and social distancing. Other changes like increased sanitizing and safety-related communications may be permanent. Organizations hope, of course, that reduced income and profits are temporary and will need to adjust their operations accordingly. You might say there is never a dull moment in process work, but then again, I am a process nerd!