Risk Management and Change Management – 4 Basic Levels to Get Started

How do companies deal with the fact that the rules of business are constantly changing? While it is not only technology that is constantly changing, technology surely is one of the greatest impacts. The rules are changing and the dynamics are changing. Coming up with a way to deal with change is a primary focus of business. Businesses should realize that managing risk an intuitive exercise for most individuals.

In business there are two terms you hear more and more all the time. Risk Management and Change Management are everyday realities in businesses of all types and sizes. Businesses large and small are scrambling to come up with a change management plan to deal with the new world of commerce. Every aspect of business that is impacted by technology is changing so fast that it is almost impossible to keep up. Businesses mobilize to come up with a strategy to deal with the latest changes but by the time they get set to announce their plans it is too late and that trend has passed.

Companies have to evolved from static operating procedures to a dynamic, evolving, ever changing plan of action. Flexibility is paramount. Changeability a must. This is true for all kinds of business whether you are selling a product, providing a service or just about anything you can charge a fee for.

When you are putting together a risk management plan or change management plan there are four basic levels of due diligence that should be followed. The four levels must be completed in sequential order to be effective for project preparation. Of course there may be several steps or stages to each level.

First you must Identify the factors that will have an influence, negative or positive on the success of your project. Second you will need to assess the impact of each factor or influence on the project. Next you must conceptualize or prioritize a solution to respond to all factors and impacts. Once you have completed these three levels of due diligence you are ready to begin the process of putting together a plan.

Level 1. Identify

Level 2. Assess

Level 3. Conceptualize

Level 4. Plan

Following these 4 levels will provide you with the basis to get started on your plan. Just remember there is much more to it.

The key to effective risk management and change management is to have a system that has measurable results. Risk management or change management for any project can be tied into a milestone schedule to assess and measure risk as it applies to scope schedule and budget.

Risk management is essential to success in business. Most of us are very well equipped to manage risk and change effectively. Our everyday activities prepare us well. You can find numerous parallels in everyday life.

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Change Management Systems – Is There a Better Way?

There is no denying that plant floor automation can dramatically improve efficiency and increase productivity, but there is an unintended consequence of automation that can make it problematic. That consequence is the increased dependency on new technologies like PLCs, PC-based control systems, SCADA systems, and HMIs. As long as everything is working as it should, the automated workplace proceeds as a well-oiled machine, meeting every quota and price point. Of course, when something is not working as well as it should things can get complicated.

Imagine if a type of hardware used in your process has proven to be ineffective and you’ve decided to replace it with another model. Not only does the hardware change, but changes must be made to your overall control logic. This is likely to require changes to your PLCs, your SCADA system, and your HMIs. And what if the new equipment is even less efficient and you decide to roll back to the previous version? All of these control logic changes must be undone.

Change Management Systems

These concerns have become of such major importance that many companies are investing thousands of dollars and countless man-hours in software designed specifically to help manage plant-wide changes. These Change Management Systems are intended to reduce the overall cost of implementing plant-wide changes by automating as much of the process as possible. A good CMS will provide the following features:

- A backup/archive of prior revisions of programs

- Tools for documenting changes

- A historical record of what and when changes were made, and by whom

- User- or role-based permissions determining who is able to make changes

- Disaster recovery procedures to recover from hardware failures

- Notification of changes

These change management functions have been performed manually in most cases, requiring enormous investments of time. Furthermore, the updates made to PLCs and SCADA systems typically require taking the process down while changes are made. This inevitable downtime creates another enormous gap in profitability. Even when a sophisticated CMS is employed, there is no way to avoid the fact that traditional SCADA and HMI systems are inextricably linked to the hardware that they are monitoring. Any significant change will require taking the entire process down and starting it up again after the changes are fully implemented.

Is There an Alternative?

If it seems that change management is just a fancy new way for software developers to make more money on some unnecessary product designed to solve imaginary problems, just think about what would be involved in making plant-wide changes in your enterprise. Would you have to make changes to your SCADA system? How long would that take? Would you have to update your HMI screens? How many of them? And how long would you have to take the process down in order to make these changes? Consider the cost of the labor. Consider the lost production due to downtime. And imagine if the change you made does not produce the intended result, and you want to roll the process back to a previous state. How much more time and money would that cost?

The benefits of change management are various and undeniable, but is it possible to realize these benefits without introducing another management system – another system that will itself need to be managed? What if your HMI/SCADA system allowed you to manage plant-wide changes with ease, and without extravagant investments in labor or lost production? One way this is possible is through the concept of Data Modeling. By creating a logical model of your plant and your processes, your control logic is abstracted away from the actual hardware and becomes much more flexible and scalable. A change made to a piece of equipment in your data model will automatically be in effect for anyone who is using that model. Data modeling also allows you to create templates of your HMI screens that can be used for all assets of the same type, so instead of making changes to dozens of different screens a change can be made to the template and will be automatically applied to all instances of that template. And since graphics are bound to data in the model instead of actual hardware, changes can be made to your HMI screens without taking the process down. As today’s enterprises become more automated, and as more data points become measurable, a SCADA system that employs data modeling is becoming more and more of a necessity. The good news is that such a system will surely pay for itself in a short time as efficiency is increased and downtime is reduced, providing a significantly lower total cost of ownership.

The need for a CMS can be eliminated in many cases by using an HMI/SCADA system that employs data modeling. And while data modeling alone will not replace the full range of features provided by a quality CMS, many of the benefits can be duplicated, and additional benefits can be derived from the ability to perform these change management tasks from inside of your SCADA system without having to deploy a separate system.

By combining the power and efficiency of high-quality SCADA software with the sophistication of data modeling, it is possible to incorporate capabilities that bridge the gaps between process control, maintenance management, change management, asset management and resource planning. With the dawning of the new interconnected industrial environment, industry 4.0 or the ‘Internet of Things’, there has never been a better time to change your expectations about SCADA software and what it can do to bring your enterprise into the 21st century.

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Change Management – Strategies For Managing Change – A Practitioners Masterclass

“One key reason why implementation fails is that practicing executives, managers and supervisors do not have… a good understanding of the multiple factors that must be addressed, often simultaneously, to make implementation work.” [Fevzi Okumus]

Change management is a messy business fraught with complexity and many things that can, and usually do, go wrong. This is reflected in the 70% failure rate of all change initiatives.

Underlying the many things that can and do go wrong, are a number of related factors:

# The over-emphasis on process rather than people

# The failure to take full account of the impact of change on those people who are most impacted by it

# The lack of process to directly address the human aspects of change

# A lack of clarity and lack of communication

# The lack of a language and contextual framework to articulate and manage the necessary processes of change

# Failure to address the energy and emotions associated with change

# Failure to understand the difference between “new capabilities” and “realised benefits” [and why it matters]

# Failure to understand and apply the “business as usual” test to establish whether it is “incremental change” or a “step change” [and failing to understand why this matters]

To navigate these pitfalls and achieve a successful change initiative requires attention to 3 key domains, namely:

(1) Leadership that directly addresses the transitions and emotional dimension of those impacted by the change, and provides inspirational motivation.

(2) A change model and methodology that covers “the multiple factors that must be addressed”

(3) Action management that shows and assists people with the specifics of exactly what is required of them.

Here is a brief Practitioners’ Masterclass highlighting key themes within these 3 domains.


Change initiatives need to be led and managed. The major failure of leadership in most change initiatives is that there isn’t any!

What is required is leadership that recognises the importance of the emotional dimension, and specifically that understands the 2 levels of change impact:

(1) Organisational change – new processes, procedures and structures

(2) Personal transition – emotional and psychological

Most change initiatives employ methods that ignore the emotional dimension of the personal transition. Ignoring the transition is a major cause of change resistance and change failure. Leading your people through this transition is as important as managing the organisational change

Leadership that is capable of addressing these factors requires high levels of emotional intelligence – which is frequently not evident in senior executives.

So, for any business leaders reading this I will say this: “Your level of emotional awareness – and the extent to which you embrace and harness the emotional dimension of your organisation – is directly linked to change success and ongoing organisational performance.”


Culture can be defined simply as how people behave within a group context.

Organisational culture is the single biggest determinant of how an individual will behave within an organisational environment. Culture will over-ride education, intelligence and common sense

So, you cannot make a successful step change [and realise the benefits] without changing your organisational culture

To change the culture you need:

(1) To identify it and understand it

(2) A framework and language to communicate it

(3) Tools and processes to change it

Change models and methods

“A good understanding of the multiple factors that must be addressed” is arrived at with a change model and methodology that bridges the gap between the high level “big-picture” strategic vision and a successful implementation at the front-line. There are a number of change models that are popular and frequently used, notably John Kotter’s “8 Step Change Model” and the Prosci “ADKAR Change Model”. These, and other models, have great merit and provide a structured focus to the management of a change initiative.

The difficulty with these and most established change models is that, quite understandably, they tend to cover one major aspect or dimension of the totality of what is involved. That does not invalidate any specific model and supporting methodology, but it does leave gaps.

The main specific criticism that can be made of most of these models is that they are tactical and project focused; they are not strategic and they are not sufficiently holistic and broad in scope to fully address the human factors that are the commonest causes of failure.

There is currently not a change model that sits between the leadership dimension and the strategic review process, and the lower level of project and task-level management and implementation.

Programme level implementation

For this reason, I have adapted some of the core concepts and processes of programme management added a preliminary cultural analysis combined with a pre-programme review and planning process utilising my EEMAP process©, and I offer these to you in the form of a simple, programme-based model, designed to fill the strategy-project gap.

In summary, my programme-based model is designed:

# To facilitate the key thought processes that are necessary for a successful change initiative

# To support the leadership processes outlined by Kotter, Bridges Transition Model and to provide a framework and context for the project / task level ADKAR model

It has 5 main objectives:

(1) To bridge the gap between vision and implementation

(2) To ensure that the “cultural analysis” and “pre-programme review and planning process” do take place

(3) Clarity about how and why things will be different after the change

(4) To identify, assess and mitigate the impacts of the change on all those who will be affected by it

(5) Ensure that the envisaged organisational benefits are realised

Task level implementation

A common mistake that many managers make is to assume that because they have told people what they want to happen then it will happen. It won’t!

Although people will hear what you say when you outline your vision and strategy, and will probably agree with you, at the individual level, most of them are not able to translate it into productive purposeful action.

People are very different in the ways they process information, interpret life, and in the ways they are motivated. This is not because they are stupid, and does not necessarily mean that they are resistant to your vision and strategy, but it does often mean that the jump from vision and strategy to practical implementation is too big for them to make – without support.

This means that managing change, at the task level, requires hands-on detailed management [micro management on occasions] in the specifics of what to do and how to do it. This is especially necessary during the early stages.

As change leader, it really is your responsibility not to make assumptions, and to “grind out” and communicate those actionable steps.

So often, this just doesn’t happen. Leaders don’t lead and managers don’t manage. It is assumed that: “they’ve been told what to do and they’ll go away and do it”. Wrong! It is assumed that there isn’t time and it isn’t necessary to take the time to translate the ideas communicate those actionable steps. Wrong again!

It is up to you to define and communicate those actionable steps, and to manage your people through the process of implementing and integrating those steps as the new modus operandi.

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