Change Request Process Best Practices and Flow

If you ask many change experts out there about handling the change request process, they’re inevitably going to lead you through the most complex and labyrinthine processes and protocols you have ever heard in your life. Well, this isn’t their fault, because companies put procedures and forms in place to make doing just about anything a long journey that tests our very souls. Companies, of course, don’t understand change management on a level that really makes putting them in charge of these procedures a particularly smart idea, though.

So, in stead of giving you the same spiel that you’ve been given by many on how to properly handle a change request process, something defined entirely by companies and not by change experts themselves, I’m going to recommend to you as a change professional, and to any who speak for companies in forming procedures, how to do this without the nonsense. Over the years, I’ve followed such long, drawn out processes and procedures where they were enforced in my work environment, of course. However, whenever I am left to handle things myself with no intervention, or where I’m in a position to put forth these standards of procedure myself, I’ve come to a less … tedious approach.

You’re probably expecting some kind of definition for creating a set of forms to fill out. Well, you’ll probably need to design something like that once you get some momentum going, but in truth, that’s a concern for a later time, not one for right now.

So, let’s just look at what requesting change means from both sides. As a change manager, you are coming before stakeholders and telling them that the status quo in a given system is substandard, or that there is room for significant and positive improvement at least.

You’re asking for them to sacrifice time, expenses and to put their staff through stressful experiences to implement change to a running system, and risk stalling or losing efficiency in the process, even temporarily. Well. Aside from being delicate about how you express these things to both the stakeholders and to the staff themselves, there’s another thing to consider.

You must, before requesting change, analyze the system in question. Get metrics and flows of processes being performed. Perform SWOT analysis on individuals or groups if you must. From this information, locate the negative symptom you wish to remedy, and also the cause, which you will directly change, to achieve such a remedy. Now, with the same data, calculate backwards, with your proposed changes theoretically in place, and build a proposed outcome for the same process after the changes. If it illustrates drastic improvement, you’ve grounds to pose a request.

But wait! Before you do that, you must also have an agenda planned out, which shows the steps from A to B to implement the change, how you plan to handle the people involved, and so on.

Once you have a symptom, a cause, a solution, and a strategy (including the training strategy as well), then you organize a request based on this data. Chart the compared data of before and theoretical after. Describe the problem, and the outcome of solving it. Describe how you will solve it, and how you will implement that change within the group.

Now, you’ll undoubtedly want to create a procedural form system for this change request process before you actively pursue this. This form’s layout and nature should reflect the order and types of data I pointed out above, but it’s between you and the company, or between your company and the change manager, as to exactly how that works beyond that.

Christopher Smith
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.
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