Business-Level Change Management

[article]
Summary:
It's impossible to pin down a universal definition of the term "change management," but what about at the business level? By incorporating executives and senior managers, key employees who are known for driving real change, perhaps we reach a more agreeable single definition.

For more than 10 years, change management has been a key process among CEOs for organizational change. The term change management is interpreted in different ways. One can look at change management as a catch all term that applies to not only the business and solution domains, but also an enterprise-level process. To some, change management is synonymous with configuration management (CM). To others, change management is a means to manage organizational changes. A special group is usually responsible for the change management process and the implementation of changes resulting from that process. Such a group may consist of CM practitioners (if related to configuration management), but if the change affects the organization, this group more likely will consist of designated senior members from different functions of the organization or enterprise.

Business-Level Change Management (BLCM) can be interpreted in a number of ways. BLCM may be viewed as an enterprise activity that includes executive and senior management who make top-level business decisions such as new or revised project management systems, enterprise resource planning systems, financial management systems, business direction, marketing philosophy, re-branding, process improvement initiatives, and so forth. BLCM could also be considered a project-level and system-level activity that manages changes to system development or to systems in operation that are managed by a program or project manager, or by customers or users of the system.

In my own research, I found an interesting number of definitions of change management on the Internet using the Google search engine ( http://www.google.com/search?q=define:Change+Management) which reinforces what I mentioned previously. That is, many believe change management is controlling and managing changes at the enterprise or organizational level, while others have a completely different philosophy of change management altogether.

Industry Standard Definition of Change Management
ANSI/EIA-649 [1] , National Consensus Standard for Configuration Management, defines (configuration) change management as follows:

Configuration change management is a process for managing changes and variances. The purpose and benefits of the change management process include the following:

    • Enable change decisions to be based on knowledge of complete change impact
    • Limit changes to those which are necessary or offer significant benefit
    • Facilitate evaluation of cost, savings, and trade-offs
    • Ensure customer interests are considered
    • Provide orderly communication of change information
    • Preserve configuration control at product interfaces
    • Maintain and control a current configuration baseline
    • Maintain consistency between product and documentation
    • Document and limit variances
    • Facilitate continued supportability of the product after change

The standard includes a fundamental principle for configuration change management: "Changes to a product are accomplished using a systematic, measurable change process." This is clearly a configuration management process focused on products or services, reflecting a business-level change management activity.

Three Basic Definitions of Change Management

According to Fred Nickols [2] , the notion of change management is defined using three basic definitions:

    • The task of managing change.
    • An area of professional practice.
    • A body of knowledge.

The Task of Managing Change

The first and most obvious definition of "change management" is that the term refers to the task of managing change. The obvious is not necessarily unambiguous. Managing change is itself a term that has at least two meanings.

One meaning of "managing change" refers to the making of changes in a planned and managed or systematic fashion . The aim is to more effectively implement new methods and systems in an ongoing organization. The changes to be managed lie within and are controlled by the organization.  Perhaps the most familiar instance of this kind of change is the change or version control aspect of information system development projects.

However, these internal changes might have been triggered by

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