As business analysts, the very nature of our career revolves around change. Our profession exists due to the inevitable need for businesses to change in a technology-driven era. I have often seen that we analyse the systems, the processes and the solutions, but hardly ever think about the impact on the people going through the changes we are coming up with. It is very often a theoretical exercise where we document that users might be resistant to change and managing that change falls outside of the scope of the project. Very convenient for the IT team, big challenge for the business.
My journey to becoming a Business Analyst has been one filled with change, including a period where I was a Change Agent for the business on IT related projects. From my beginnings as a pharmacist, migrating into Change Management, Compliance Management and later Business Analysis, my professional life has been all about change. And the one crucial thing I realized throughout is that change is very personal.
It is important to know that every person experiences change differently and recognize that organisational change is also personal change for the people working in the environment impacted by the change. For any change to take place in an organisation, individuals need to change their way of working. And this requires planning and careful consideration. It is noteworthy to remember that management (senior stakeholders) and workforce (users) are usually in very different places on their journey through change. Management might be much further along in terms of their understanding and willingness to change than the users. This is simply due to the fact that usually management is aware of change long before it is communicated to the users/workers. It is therefore crucial to take each group of individuals through their own change journey according to where they are. It is unreasonable to expect users, who have just been informed of a significant change in the way that they work, to be excited about the new things coming. They are simply not there yet. Accept that, plan for it and work with it.
In many organisations, specific departments or teams are in place to deal with the change associated with large projects, but not in all. In these cases, the business analyst could be expected to assume the role of change agent. This means that the business analyst should be aware of how to deal with change in organisations in order to reduce the risk of project failure due to poor change management.
So how do I, as a BA, assume this role?
No need to reinvent the wheel: The Prosci ® ADKAR model
One of the most widely adopted models to implement and guide individuals through change is the Prosci ® ADKAR model. Created by Prosci founder Jeff Hiatt, ADKAR is an acronym that represents the five tangible and concrete outcomes that people need to achieve for lasting change: awareness, desire, knowledge, ability and reinforcement. With the specific outcomes defined, it becomes easier to build a change plan that will achieve these four outcomes. The role of the business analyst as a change agent is then all about building a plan that will guide the impacted individuals through each of the ADKAR stages.
Brief overview of each stage:
How to plan change management with ADKAR as the methodology
All good business analysts know that assessing the current “AS-IS” is crucial in order to understand how to get to the “TO-BE”. And change management is in its truest form a gap analysis and plan on how to bridge this gap. ADKAR provides the roadmap with very clear goals in place to assess whether the organisation is not just ready for the change, but ready to implement the change when the time comes.
The importance of role modelling
I have seen so many projects that are a success due to the heroic efforts of a few individuals. These individuals have the power to gather support for their vision/goal and to create an excitement and desire for change. Identifying a change champion in the business early on and involving them throughout will ensure that your message has credibility and authenticity. This highlights the importance of choosing the right person for the right job. And as we say in FTI, it completely depends on the situation. “Little Miss Sunshine” might work for some, and the “grumpy guy” that made a 360-degree turnaround, works for others.
Do as I do, not just do as I say: the role of leadership in influencing people
Nothing inspires the desire to change as seeing your own CEO or Supervisor get in there with you and go through the same change as you. It creates a feeling of shared pain and then shared gain at the end of the day. Building a change management plan with your stakeholders (senior or not so senior) will ensure that you know who the role models are, and to make sure that they understand the responsibility that comes with this.
The ostrich approach: Maybe if I don’t look, it’ll go away
Failing to analyse and plan for organisational change is equivalent to planning to fail the project. The impact of this is increased resistance to the change regardless of the effort that the project team has put in. And when the change finally lands due to the heroic efforts of individuals, users will soon find workarounds and ways to go back to the old way of doing things.
No matter how amazing your proposed solution is, if you do not take people through the change, they will never see the benefits.
https://blog.prosci.com/ ADKAR model overview e-book
MBA154: Change Leadership
Dulaine is the Programme Manager for Business analysis in Cape Town, where she lectures in Business Analysis. She completed her Advanced Diploma in Business Analysis in 2017 and joined the FTI family as lecturer on a full time bases in 2018.
Dulaine has a strong background in business analysis, having worked on a wide variety of projects and technologies, both from the IT side as well as the business side. She is also a trained change agent with a passion for developing and implementing changes in organisations.
When she’s not lecturing, Dulaine spends time with her family and photography.
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