This is the FIRST blog in our series that explains how to leverage Service and Change Management for Compliance by capturing all the information necessary to process change approvals and establish auditable records. In this article, we explain why Business Process Compliance is a key part of the foundation for building a successful organization. Our second article explains how Regulatory Compliance Across Industries provides important guidance for organizations as they strive to attain their business goals. In our third and final article (posting on June 29, 2021), we explain how Auditing for Compliance is used not only to evaluate whether your company is following external regulations, but also determine whether it is following its own internal procedures and policies.
If you do not have a Service and Change Management system that can handle compliance workflows, there are a variety of factors that you should consider before deciding to purchase one. Help Net Security spoke with several industry professionals to get their insight on the topic, and SunView Software’s Senior Vice President, Michael W. Hechler, weighed in with some valuable recommendations. There are many vendors that offer solutions that can handle Business Process Compliance. It is crucial to remember that you are building a long-term partnership, so you must feel comfortable with the product in addition to finding a company that you can trust. “When selecting an ITSM solution,” according to Michael W. Hechler, Senior VP, SunView Software, “you should always start with your current business requirements.” To read the complete interview, visit How do I select an ITSM solution for my business?
What is a Business Process?
Just like ‘compliance’ can mean many things to different people, business processes need a clear definition and understanding as well. For the purpose of this article, a business process is a series of steps performed by a group of stakeholders to achieve a specific goal. Each step in a business process denotes a task that is assigned to a participant. Each task is a fundamental building block for several related ideas such as business process management, process automation, and more. Organizations of every size benefit from clearly defined processes, but the advantages of having good business processes are most noticeable in scalable organizations. Processes form the foundation of most businesses and help streamline individual activities, ensuring that resources are utilized with optimal efficiency.
Successful businesses focus their operations on achieving clearly defined and measurable goals. To reach these goals, processes and procedures are put in place to ensure that quality products and services are available on time and meet customer expectations. Well-designed process plans can help your business:
- Develop quality products and services
- Produce consistent and efficient results
- Reduce time to market
- Fulfill customer needs and improve satisfaction
- Remain in compliance with regulatory requirements
Why Do People Resist Following New Processes?
Have you ever felt totally confident that you created “the perfect” business process—only to be disappointed with the results? You used the latest technology to automate your workflows and developed volumes of documentation to describe every step, in painstaking detail. What happened when you tried to implement that process? Did it work? Perhaps a better question is, did everyone in your department or your organization follow the process the way that you intended it to be followed? If your answer to the latter question is “no,” then the relevant stakeholders failed to comply with the requirements of your business process—for any of a variety of reasons.
Non-compliance can be disappointing and frustrating for managers, especially if a lot of time and money was thrown at a project specifically designed to implement new procedures. Here are some of the reasons you may get pushback on your new process:
- Creatures of Habit—People are creatures of habit and generally do not like change. If your employees have been doing their jobs a certain way for a long time, they probably wrapped themselves in many layers of work-related habits that are difficult to break.
- Doubting the New Process—If your employees already believe they are doing a good job, they may be wondering why you want them to change. Will your new procedure slow them down? Is the goal of your process to eliminate jobs or replace certain workers?
- Fear of More Responsibility—Employees may feel like they do not have the time and/or skills needed to take on more responsibilities.
- Not Understanding the New Process—Your employees may not understand what their role will be in your new process. Complex processes may need to be implemented using small, incremental changes to gain acceptance.
- Not Seeing the Impact on Customers—Employees who do not interact with customers may not understand how your new process will impact your company’s products, services, and customer satisfaction.
- The New Process is Inefficient—This may be hard for you to accept, but employees could be “working around” your new process because it is broken. Important steps may be missing, or you might not have the right people assigned to the right tasks.
- Lack of Management Support—Employees may feel abandoned if senior management does not fully support your new process, or if management is unwilling to wait long enough for the benefits to materialize.
- Conflicts with Other Tasks—Employees may need to deviate from your new process to complete special requests, or resources might be pulled away from your process to work on other tasks.
While there are many reasons why employees may be reluctant to adopt a new process, having the right Change Management system in place is the first step in guiding your organization to properly prepare, equip, and support its employees to successfully adopt change and drive positive results.
How Can You Improve Process Compliance?
Modern organizations require a Change Management solution optimized to support the dramatic increase and complexity of change. Through advanced automation and workflows, ChangeGear has been designed to streamline the entire change management and compliance processes that enable organizations to meet auditing and compliance requirements.
A key element of successful Change Management is understanding that no change ever happens in isolation. In one way or another, change impacts your entire organization and all the people within it. With a good Change Management system, you can encourage everyone to adapt to and embrace your new way of working. Successful Change Management relies on five key steps:
Step 1—Understand the Change
To successfully promote the benefits of your change, you need to understand those benefits yourself. Ask yourself why you believe this process needs to be changed. What are your objectives? How will your company benefit from the change? How will your change positively impact employees? How will it affect the way people work and perceive their jobs? What will people need to do to successfully complete the change? It can also be important to think about what will happen if your change is not implemented. For change to work, there must be sufficient dissatisfaction with the old way of doing things. But people also need to feel confident that the new approach will be better than the old one and that there is a clear path for migration.
Step 2—Plan the Change
Effective change does not just happen by chance—it needs to be engineered to fit your organization. The way that change is managed varies from one organization to another. Some companies have very rigid change methodologies, while others are more open and flexible in their approach. Managers need to understand the rationale behind their current environment before attempting to make any significant changes.
You need to consider sponsorship, involvement, buy-in, and impact regarding the change. Studies have shown that a huge contributing factor for a successful change management project is how visible the sponsor is among the other stakeholders. You need to make sure that the sponsor is effective and is actively engaged throughout the entire process.
Inadequate planning and neglecting a change’s impact on personnel can result in lost productivity, disengaged employees, high turnover, and resistance. These negative consequences and risks also come with financial consequences. It may take longer for employees to start using your new system, longer to master the steps in the process, as well as longer for your company to see a good Return on Investment (ROI).
Step 3—Utilize Maintenance Windows, Blackout Periods, and Change Windows
A Maintenance Window is a scheduled timeframe during which assets or services (Configuration Item (CI) for ITIL compliant organizations) are permitted to be changed. As changes might involve downtime, these windows can be used to minimize disruptions to critical business processes. In general, scheduled changes should occur inside a maintenance window.
A Blackout Period is a scheduled timeframe during which there may be reduced support such as a holiday, corporate event, contractual obligation with a client, or critical business time like fiscal year-end. Scheduled changes should not occur during agreed upon blackout periods. Blackout periods specify times during which normal change activity should not be scheduled, but they do not prevent a change from occurring. Usually, there are exceptions for emergencies, but those should be rare and require executive level approval before implementation.
A Change Window usually indicates that specific assets or services are allowed to be interrupted for change related activity. Some companies, for example, define specific blocks of time (i.e., every Wednesday from 2:00 am – 4:00 am ET) in agreement with the consumers of the service and related customers or departments. Change windows help you schedule changes to minimize the impact on critical business processes.
Step 4—Communicate the Change
Communicate early and often throughout the entire change process. Make sure employees or customers fully understand what the impact will be, for how long, and what their role might be after the implementation is complete. Communication can be a make-or-break component of change management. The change that you want to implement must be clear and relevant, so people understand what you want them to do and why they need to do it. If employees are told what the change is without hearing why it is being done, they will be inclined to resist and do nothing.
Step 5—Implement the Change
Managers play an important role in implementing the change process. To be effective, managers must understand the change and how it impacts their team. With the right level of engagement, managers become extensions of the change team, assisting with acceptance, understanding the impact, and raising potential concerns to help improve the likelihood of success. Additionally, managers should facilitate feedback between the project team and employees across the organization. Knowing that individual employees or close-knit groups of employees handle change in different ways, managers should coach them through the change process and reinforce the value of the changes after they have been made.
There are many different strategies you can use to put your change in motion. If you want to create a sense of urgency to build momentum and encourage people to get behind your idea, you need to be mindful of certain things along the way:
- Ensure that everyone involved in the change understands what needs to happen and what it means for them.
- Agree on success criteria for your change, and make sure that they are regularly measured and reported on.
- Identify the key stakeholders that will be involved in your change and define their level of involvement.
- Identify any training needs that must be conducted before, during, and after implementing your change.
- Appoint “change agents,” who are ready, willing, and able to help put your new process in place and act as a role model for others to follow.
- Find ways to change people’s habits, so that the new process becomes the new norm.
- Make sure that everyone is supported throughout the change process.
Next week, we explain how Regulatory Compliance Across Industries provides important guidance for organizations as they strive to attain their business goals.