Configuration Management Change Process Problems

I am always hearing that the change process takes too long. In addition, it appears “Configuration Management” (The “CM” department) is always to blame.

In reality, the blame may lie with the CM process itself, which includes everyone who prepares information, proposes changes, reviews changes, dispositions changes, and implements changes. The following is a partial list of reasons why the change process might take too long.

Form Issues

The change request is not accurate/complete when submitted and needs to be.

The change forms are just too complicated and not user friendly, resulting in rework.

The change review process has only one path (everything has to go through a change board).

Reviewers take too long to review a change and have to be tracked down and reminded to review changes.

Decision makers attend the change board unprepared.

The technical review is incomplete.

Costs are not gathered, or the estimate is in error.

The system/process/work- flow for change management is not automated.

Too many corrective action changes overwhelm the process.

Too many corrective action changes exist because released documentation is not what it should be.

Change Board Issues

Attendees are unprepared.

There are people involved in these reviews that are not necessary.

Impact analysis was incomplete.

Signature Requirements.

There are non-value added signatures required for disposition of the change.

Prioritization Issues:

Everything is urgent.

Resource Issues:

Resources needed to do all the above correctly and implement change tasks are not available.

Personnel state they are too busy to review changes.

Lead Time Issues

Personnel wait until the last minute to write a change, forwarding the change to the CM Department; then complaining that “CM” (the Department) is slowing them down.

Training Issues

Employees are not trained in how the change process works or how to properly fill out the change request and/or implementation plan. As a result, personnel need the CM department to write changes for them, or have the CM Department assist in various aspects of preparing a change, resulting in a bottleneck in the CM department.

Changes to Changes

People do not have the information they need to fully assess the impact of a change, and identify items/documents affected the first time around. This results in changes to changes.

People make revisions to changes to already approved changes without notifying anyone; resulting in delays when the alteration is discovered.

Manual Systems

There is no automated work- flow, or automated forms, associated with the change process. Automation makes a good process move quicker. However, even if there is automation, you will still have the same issues described above if your processes are not what they should be.

The Bottom Line

CM is a cross-functional business process that, if done right, enables everyone to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. Everyone needs to understand that if it is too slow, it may not be the fault of “CM” (the department). In fact, the fault usually lies elsewhere. If you are having problems it is time your organization reevaluated the process, and the roles of everyone involved.

Copyright 2010, Steve Easterbrook, CMPIC

Positive Change in the Management Will Change the Organization Positively

Management was considered a skill and art. People said leaders are born. Then people said leaders could be inspired. Now people say that leaders could be trained. It is true that we could be trained and taught to become leaders. Management is a leadership skill. The best leadership ever is the leadership by example. If the example is right then the understanding will be full. If the example is not right then the understanding will not be right.

Companies and organizations have managers and management levels. Smaller companies might have only one level of management and there might be only one individual as a manager. Larger corporations have different levels of management. There might be junior managers who directly deal with base level employees. There might be middle managers who interact between the junior managers and the senior managers. There might be a higher management team which would be at the top of the organizational structure.

If an organization is established to be bigger, the management would have been planned and structured beforehand. Most organizations that are worldwide and famous now, were not planned to be so when they were initiated. If you take any of the gigantic businesses, corporate companies or organizations, most of them were not meant to be grown into worldwide entities. In fact, some of the current successful and worldwide businesses were opened up for fun. We can consider the United Nations Organization as one of the very few organizations which were meant to be worldwide as they were established.

The change becomes necessary when the organization transforms from a small group of people having fun to a larger entity of importance in the society. When Facebook was launched, it consisted of only one manager; the founder himself. Now it has over 10,000 employees with different levels of management. Google was started with two people. Now it has more than 57,000 employees worldwide. This is the transformation that takes place when a company or organization grows.

All companies had to face the issue of transforming from a smaller stage to a bigger stage. Once they transform, the organizations which changed their structure of management accordingly were able to survive. The management of whichever organization was resistant to change had to pay the price of losing the organization. If an analysis is done on the organizations, companies or corporate businesses which were closed or sold, then the management would be held responsible for ending up in such situations.

The most effective mode of management is to lead by example. A military is a controlled system that runs by orders. One of the most important aspects in the military is that the leader who is giving an order also carries out that order. For example if a soldier is required to wear a uniform, then the chief of the battalion is required the same. If a soldier is required to carry out training exercises, the commander is required too. In other words, militaries are successful organizations not because the leaders or managers have much authority but because they lead by example.

As a simple fact, if a manager keeps his table clean all the time, he can ask his subordinates to keep their table clean. There will be no opposition. Since the subordinates know that their manager always keeps his table clean, they will have no excuse or reason to give him. The leader gets his authority through his example behavior and not through shouting at people.

Since management is essentially leadership, it should lead by example. The duty of higher management is to make sure that there are example leaders in the middle management. The middle management consists of the most sensitive links with most critical positions. The middle management of any organization is the bridge between the workforce and the managing force. If the bridge is not right, then the journey wouldn’t be fulfilled.

As organizations transform from small to big, the gap for a middle management arises. The top managers might be able to manage 10 staff but not 100. If the top management decided to manage all staff without middle management, it is like building a suspension bridge without any poles in the middle. It will work for up to a certain length. If the bridge exceeds the optimum length, then the strength would be in question.

It is the same with a growing business. There have to be changes to address the needs of tomorrow. Most organizations fail because they try to address the problems that took place yesterday and they forget to think and make a plan to avoid problems tomorrow. In the long run, this kind of organization will have problems piled up from the past and will be facing problems in the future as well.

The aspects of the management should change in a way that the management should be able to think, anticipate and identify potential problems in the future. They should then be able to get ready to face and solve the problems before the problems hit the organization. If this is not considered by the management, then the day to day problems will keep all the staff occupied in problem solving. While everyone is busy trying to solve the problems, the intended regular tasks will be missed. The missed tasks will seed for new problems in the future. Since the management is not willing to change, the same will take place in a loop.

A few managers don’t consider themselves as examples. The manager might not think that he is not supposed to be an example, but the employee will always look at the manager as an example. If the manager is not punctual, then the employee will either become like the manager or will not like the manager. If people don’t like other people, it is hard to take tasks from them. If you are a manager and your employee doesn’t want to take tasks from you, then you are in trouble.

Every single aspect of the manager is critical to the organization. If there are five different managers in an organization, all of them should be together and be leading by example. The employees who look at the managers should get an impression to become like the managers. In a few organizations the founders or the owners make sure that the staff will like the management. If someone in the management is spoiling the name of the entire management, that person would usually be fired.

Some say that the only job of a manager is to hire staff. I strongly disagree. The only job of a manager is to manage. Managing is a leadership aspect. The best leadership is to lead by example. To be a positive example, the manager has to be positive in all qualities. If the manager is positive in all senses, the employees will like the manager. If the employees like the manager, then they will listen to the manager. If the manager asks them to do something, they will do it. A positively qualified example manager is going to ask only something good for the organization. At the end, a positive change in the management will change the organization positively.

Incremental Change Or Step Change – 8 Questions to Define Change Management & Clarify Your Approach

Incremental change or step change? It is very important to establish very early on whether or not what you are proposing can be regarded as incremental change and realistically can be accomplished within the constraints of “Business As Usual”, or whether it is a step change and needs to be handled as a specific initiative – and with the appropriate level of senior sponsorship and practical support.

The key questions are:

(1) Is the change you are proposing an incremental change that can and should be introduced as part of “Business As Usual” and that can be absorbed as part of the day-to-day running of your organisation?

(2) Or is the size, scope and complexity, priority, timescale, strategic importance of the proposed change such that it is a step change and needs to be regarded and handled as a specific initiative and requires some form of change management process?

This is extremely important as you define change management in the context of your organisation.

The reason this is so important is because people are stressed, tired and generally fed up with change initiatives. They need careful and detailed explanation of the proposed changes – why the proposed change is necessary, and the direct effects on them and the benefits to them. They need help and practical support.

As an illustration of this – I was involved with an NHS Trust recently, and contrary to the board’s initial perception of the reason for the apparent resistance and reluctance of senior clinical staff to embrace an initiative, the simple truth was that clinical staff did support the board’s intentions – but they didn’t have the time or energy to handle it.

What was needed was someone to own the initiative full-time and to “formally” recognise that this was a specific step change initiative that needed to be handled outside of hospital “business as usual”.

Here are 8 simple yet powerful questions that will help you clarify which approach to take and how to implement it successfully:

(1) How’s it going to be different when I’ve made the change?

(2) Why am I doing this – how’s it going to benefit me?

(3) How will I know it’s benefited me?

(4) Who is it going to affect and how will they react?

(5) What can I do to get them “on side”?

(6) What are the risks and issues that I’ll have to face?

(7) What steps do I take to make the changes and get the benefit?

(8) How am I going to manage all this so that it happens and I succeed?