A kind soul once said, “With change comes chaos.” Let the name be anonymous. What you should know is: Changes, without a documented procedure, can do more harm than benefit. One missing step, and you’ll tumble down like a house of cards.
So, does that mean you shouldn’t implement changes at all? Oh, you should.
Changes are inevitable. You’ll crash like Kodak if you become complacent. But you also can’t implement changes without following the correct procedure.
What you need is an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) to manage changes. An SOP reduces the risks and uncertainties. And it makes the outcome predictable.
So, let’s find out how beneficial Change Management SOPs are and how you can create one for yourself. With a planned approach to changes, you can smoothly retire old systems and move to a better one.
Time to dive in.
Why do businesses need an SOP for changes?
Planning and implementing process improvements can make employees anxious. They start getting nightmares of hairy giants, which they may face with the newly rolled-out changes. Their productivity falls. That’s why businesses need change management SOPs.
The following are the benefits of SOPs for change management:
Ensures standardized changes
Standard Operating Procedures ensure the timely execution of activities. Thus, an SOP for change management is essential for a controlled and systematic rollout of proposed changes. It minimizes errors and disruptions in business processes.
Minimizes negative impacts
Changes to processes, systems, and products can introduce new risks to the organization. An SOP helps to identify and mitigate those risks. It reduces the chances of potential negative impacts on the business. And it keeps a check on the after-effect of the implementation.
Michael McCarty, CEO of Edge Fall Protection, says, “Using the SOP has allowed us to save at least a month. […] Moreover, we’ve seen a marked increase in the number of employees voluntarily becoming change champions, leading to faster, more efficient and less frustrating adoption of key changes across our entire workforce.”
For Edge Fall Protection, the SOP reduced the implementation time frame from 3-4 months to (at most) two months.
Another benefit of having an SOP is that it improves communication and collaboration. It brings down employees’ resistance to change and helps them work together.
Proper change management ensures that everyone across the organization works towards the same goals and objectives. Qwantel Mosley, for example, introduces new systems and trains teams with the help of Scribe.
Reduces employee turnover
Nathan Sanders, CEO of Plumbing Navigator, says, “Change management became more straightforward after the implementation of SOPs. […] It’s also easier for us to measure the impact of implemented changes on efficiency and employee satisfaction. […] For instance, employee turnover after the change has reduced by nearly 25% since adopting this SOP.”
He suggests a clear outlining of the respective roles and duties of the people involved in the change management process. It helps improve accountability and transparency.
What does a change management SOP look like?
As per Robert Hoffmann, Marketing Manager at CashbackHero:
“An effective SOP should include three main components: identification of needs for change, assessment of impacts and risks, and detailed implementation plans. Communication plans should also be included so that team members can be informed about upcoming changes. Lastly, evaluation of results should also be done.”
Since implementing the SOP, CashbackHero has seen an increase in operational efficiency and a decrease in risk resulting from changes. It helped streamline processes and reduce delays or disruptions due to procedural changes.
And here are the things a change management SOP should have:
The Objective of an SOP states the purpose or goal of the procedure. It establishes what the SOP is intended to accomplish, as well as any expected outcomes or results. It’s concise and focused so that the reader understands what exactly needs to be done.
The Scope of an SOP outlines the boundaries or limitations of the procedure. It defines what a particular change procedure covers and what it doesn’t. In addition to limits, the scope also mentions the equipment, resources and specific circumstances related to the change.
The Responsibilities section of an SOP outlines the change champions, the special few from each concerned department in the change process. It lists the job titles and the tasks assigned to them.
The Procedure section details all the specific processes to be carried out. It’s subdivided into parts like identification of change, initiation and evaluation. There could be more depending on the complexity of the change procedure.
The Glossary lists the definitions of different terms used in the SOP.
The Abbreviations section defines the full forms of the abbreviations used in the SOP.
The References presents the documents and guidelines followed while creating the SOP.
An easy-to-use change management SOP template
An SOP for change management can be as concise or detailed as you want. As long as it gets the work done, without operational disruptions, you’re fine with what you have.
Here is an SOP template made by Scribe to implement a new project management system in a tech company. The template includes the following:
- Objective of the change process
- Scope of the change process
- Responsibilities for the process
- Project Manager Responsibilities
- IT Team Responsibilities
- Training Team Responsibilities
- End User Responsibilities
- Procedure involved in the process
- Identifying the needs
- Assessing the risks and impacts
- Implementing the system
- Evaluating the progress
- Documenting the procedures
How to create your change management SOP
The steps to create a change management SOP are similar to process improvement. Here’s how to go about it:
Define the objective & scope
The first step to creating a change management SOP is understanding why you need it. The objective (and scope) clarifies the range of processes covered by the SOP. Each type of process change, in each department, might be different from the other. And each level of management might need a slightly different SOP.
Identify the stakeholders
Change management and its SOP need to be a group project. The process should be tackled keeping in mind everyone whose life is (or will be) at risk. Anyone among the executives and team members who take the management-level decisions needs to be considered for outlining the SOP. One cannot, or at least not try to, single-handedly create an SOP.
Pick your change champions
Once you identify the stakeholders, you need a team on whose shoulders the burden of SOP creation will be. This team is made of change champions who know how to manage and execute processes. The team formation may change depending on the change to be carried out, but they always are the ones who can ensure that the process is carried out smoothly.
Assign roles & responsibilities
As important are the roles and responsibilities to implement the changes, they are to create the SOP. Defining the roles leaves no space for ambiguity. The assignees know whether they have to shuffle through documents or interview stakeholders. And it ensures that the SOP is created on time.
Break goals into processes
For productive change management, the SOP needs to be effective. And to build an effective SOP, you must break down the goal into processes. The processes should further be broken down into specific achievable and actionable tasks. An ideal SOP is one that can be followed and executed when the need arises.
Document all the processes
Now comes the phase where you put everything into shape as one or multiple SOPs. Scribe Pages makes it gracefully straightforward to document processes. Documenting with Scribe eases the process for everyone. The documents are accessible to the entire team.
Duplicate this change management SOP template made with Scribe Pages and create your own. Scribe allows for documenting SOPs as well as user manuals and onboarding guides.
Review & refine
The best SOPs undergo a series of revisions before becoming the best. So, have a log of changes handy and review and refine the change management process. And when you come across a shinier gem, a more efficient process, update the SOP accordingly. Change is a continuous process, and it applies to changes in SOP, too… to ensure it’s effective.
Wrapping it up
Although you can’t prevent the chaos of changes, you can contain it from spreading throughout your organization. How? by planning and documenting the Standard Operating Procedures for changes that work the best for you.
Take Scribe for a trial ride and plan out and manage your changes. Scribe ensures uniformity and consistency in processes across the entire organization.