Process Side of Change Management by Ramkumar Viswanathan

People, Process and Technology are three pillars of change management. In this blog, I am going to look at the process side of change management. Although Process has a considerable overlap with other two aspects, there is still room to look at process in isolation. Borrowing from the simple yet effective model of Lewin, Process can be unfreezed, analysed and repackaged as shown in the below diagram.


Figure 1: Transforming Cube to Cone

So, how do we go about analysing/transforming the process? The rest of the blog will give an overview of three styles using which the process can be analysed.

1. Process Related Analysis

One of the important things while conducting this analysis is to keep things simple. It is easy to dive in with all the six sigma and lean tools to collect and analyse and weed through massive piles of data to calculate the work-in progress, processing times, queuing or waiting period etc. There is nothing wrong in using them but the mind-set with which it is used makes them more effective. The key question is to check whether the process is ready to take on the challenges expected in the future i.e. based on the organisation strategy. If not, where is the waste in the process? In simple terms, what is the value-added time? While it is easy to ask what is value-added time, it sometime gets difficult to clearly draw a boundary between value-added and non-value added time. Here are some pointer questions that help identifying value-added time:

  • Is this step adding something that is of interest or value to my customer?
  • Does this step help contribute towards on-the job learning for my employees?
  • Does this step introduce any additional work downstream?

2. Quality Related Analysis:

During my childhood days, my parents used to say that if I spend quality time studying and doing my homework, my life would be much easier later on. All of us must have had similar sort of advice during some stage in life. Same principle applies to this type of process analysis. While analysing a process, it is essential to see whether a process is done right the first time. Right first time means “quality”. Immature organisations especially in service industry measure quality as an after-effect i.e. Just before the service is ready for consumption or even worse with metric such as “No. of customer complaints”. And then a post-mortem is conducted to find out the issue. To avoid such reactive behaviours, the answer lies not in just about adding a metric but it’s about uncovering the symptoms earlier in the process. i.e. being more proactive than reactive.

3. Governance Related Analysis:

This aspect tells how good a process is handled. Right from designing a process, adding a measurement metric to ensuring proper resource allocation is very central to this theme. There are several parameters that determine good governance such as reducing the variance, drive down the learning curve, use of good metrics that provide good insights etc. Here is where smart leadership and management play an important role. Smart leadership & management skills because many times, organisation just look at all parameters within governance in isolation but depending on the nature of the business, these parameters might be interlinked. For instance, I knew an organisation which tried to improve resource allocation by allocating one resource per task within a process but as a result, the learning curve & time to acquire complete process knowledge increased multi-folds. As a result, the employees got disengaged which pushed the attrition rate up but the metrics never revealed any problem until very late in the game.

Overall, these three styles of analysis provide a guiding hand to analyse the process from multiple perspective. However, it is also vital to know the dynamics between the process, people and technology in order to deliver successful change implementation.

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Ram Viswanathan is a passionate operational excellence specialist with global experience of delivering successful & sustainable business improvements across multiple sectors. In his 15 years of experience, he has delivered business improvements in several flavours. 

Some of them include:
1. Digital Transformation
2. Post-merger integration and Target Operating Model design
3. Pure-play process improvements
4. Cost Transformation

Although Ram has been delivering change for a long-time, he still considers himself as a student and is always looking for ways to improve.