Monday, 10 March 2014

What is Change Management?

Authored by John Shaw

Today we begin answering the first of a series of questions on change management seen through the lens of the Supply Management profession. Each article in this series will be based upon a tutorial by Prosci®, The World Leader in Change Management Research. You can find our first article here.

Prosci® defines change management as follows:

“Change management is the process, tools and techniques to manage the people-side of change to achieve the required business outcome.”

The most important part of this definition is the total focus of the change program on achieving the business outcome. So while we will visit some theory, we won’t lose site of the fact that we are here to generate a business outcome.

If you read further you’ll see that any change goes through 3 stages, the current, transition and future state. Furthermore, for any change, the amount of change management effort needed to move through these states increases based upon the amount of disruption that will be created in your employees day-to-day activities.

Enough theory, let’s take this and apply it to Supply Management. The table below highlights these concepts applied to 4 common supply management activities:

Supply Management Activity
Current State
Business Outcome
Standardizing a Sourcing Process
No defined organizational process.
6 Step Process with documents & approvals.
Increased Savings,
Process Visibility,
Category Managers, Analysts, Approvers, Management, Finance
New Travel Management Contract
All travel managed by individuals.
Central Service provider with travel Policies
Direct Savings,
Cost Avoidance,
Sales & Support Staff,
Office Admins,
HR & Legal,
Centralizing Telecommunications (Cell Phone)
Employees or departments purchase plans and expense related costs.
Centralized contracts and payment on fixed set of plans.
Direct Savings,
Reduced Admin Costs,
Sales & Support Staff,
New e-Sourcing tool rollout
Use of spreadsheets, word documents and emails as primary sourcing mechanisms.
Online bid creation, publication, responses and analysis.
Increase Efficiency,

Category Managers,
Event Stakeholders,

In each of these examples, we can reach into the Prosci® toolkit and show how Change Management tools can be applied to this project. The table below shows examples of how the Prosci’s® Five Levers of Change Management could be applies to our 4 Supply Management Activities:

Change Tools
The Change Plan Examples
Cell Phone
Communications go beyond telling people a new plan is coming, it should focus on determining what questions people have, when they will have them and who is the best person to deliver the message.   In our cell phone example a sales rep wants to hear how the new plan will help them access their email on the road from their IT team and how it will reduce their paper work requirements from their manager.  A single communication from Finance on company dollars saved doesn’t address those key questions.
Travel Management
Beyond initial communications the executives need to demonstrate support buy visibly following the new travel policies, recognizing compliance and addressing areas of non-compliance.  To do this they need a communication platform and key performance indicators.
Sourcing Process
Managers will need to be prepared to help Category Managers and Analysts through each step of the new sourcing process, especially in their early projects while they are gaining experience. The upcoming sourcing event schedule can be used determine who will need this coaching, when and how it will impact the manager’s workload.
e-Sourcing Tool
Similar to the coaching plan, the training plan can be built off of the event calendar.  By understanding who needs to run what sourcing events and when, a targeted training plan can be developed that gets people the skills they need and gives them the chance to apply them.  
Resistance Management
Travel Management
Resistance management is about identifying those areas of the organization that resistance is most likely to occur and getting ahead of it.   In the example of travel management this should start in the earliest stages of requirements definition by pulling the heaviest and most influential travelers into the sourcing process. A the new services are rolled out a resource should be assigned to monitoring compliance and addressing areas of resistance.

What I hope that most readers will realize is that you are already a change management practitioner. In the same way that a 6 step sourcing process can be decomposed into a set of very logical and practical steps, so can the idea of Change Management.

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