Change control is a process that is set up to implement a needed change either in a system or process or even a product or service that a business uses in their operations. The way that this looks will vary by industry, mainly because each industry utilizes different systems and processes. The most common place where you will see this is in any digital environment because technology is always evolving, but you will notice these same opportunities in place with other industries that need to grow or change as well. Let’s look at the steps that are generally used in the process of change control.
Once a change request has been made, it is important to set up a team such as a change control committee or change control board in order to set up the plan to accomplish this change. They will be tasked with analyzing the request itself, understanding how realistic it is and creating a step by step guide to how this change can be achieved. This means that they need to look at all of the factors like time, budget, labor, and other processes or systems that could be impacted before they go about creating the change.
The most important part of the plan that is developed is the analysis that comes before the change. Not only does the change control committee need to look at the costs and the end result that they want to achieve, but they also need to analyze all of the risk factors involved. For example, the system that a business uses for shipping could be different from the system that is in place for ordering. However, if you were to make a change to the ordering system without analyzing how that change could impact the shipping system then you could be setting your business up for a lot of delayed or misdirected orders.
Once all of the details have been planned out and analyzed, there needs to be an approval process set us so that the change control board has the final say on whether or not the changes desired should be implemented and why. They may look at the full analysis and realize that the change is necessary in the future but too disruptive to implement right away. This process needs to go through approval before it can be relied upon as being the best way for the business to progress forward. The logistics of the change are only one part of this, the brand identity and overall business goals need to play into this process as well. For example, if the production could be sped up by moving manufacturing to another country then you have to weigh that against the quality control of the products in that country as well as labor rights being respected and how that could impact the identity of your company. These are all factors to be considered during a review.
Most systems, particularly in technology, need to be tested prior to implementation. People need to know what to expect and there are always bugs and hiccups to be worked out before any transition can be done smoothly. Particularly with digital management systems, there are always unforeseen circumstances that are guaranteed to play into the process and whether or not a change can be implemented successfully. It is important to build out the new solution and take it through a meticulous testing phase before rolling it out throughout the entire business.
Once the change control board has approved, built out and tested the new changes, it is time for the change to be implemented. This process will look different depending on your business needs and your industry. If you are working in healthcare then lives can be at stake and it may be better to implement a slow roll out to ensure that no additional bugs pop up when more people are utilizing the system. If your business works in an environment where users are naturally tech savvy then you may not need to be as cautious and you may be able to have more faith that users will adapt with more ease. Regardless of how you implement the change, you need to do it in a way that limits disruption of your business operations as much as humanly possible while also empowering users to feel confident that the change was the right move.
The conclusion for change control is not simply to close the book or chapter on everything that you accomplished throughout this process. The way to close that book is to prove that the change was implemented successfully, look at any ways that the process could be better for next time and think about how you can tangibly show that it was done to the best of your ability based on the information that you had at that time. You need to analyze how it impacted the goals that were set forth in the beginning of the process and how the change will improve business moving forward.
Change control is a broad term that can alter your business for the better in ways that you never thought of. Being able to get feedback and have a solid system in place so that you and your organization can act on that feedback to improve operations is the only way to make sure that your business is always on the forefront of what is innovative and impactful for your industry. Focusing on creating a seamless change control process will prevent the possible stagnation that can happen when a business is too comfortable with the systems that you set up in the beginning of your business’ creation.