Change happens. No matter what industry you work in, you’ve likely dealt with change at your organization -- whether that’s something major like working with a new software application or something more small-scale like switching from paper cups to ceramic mugs.
How do organizations enact and monitor these changes? You may have heard the phrases “change management” and “change control” before -- perhaps used interchangeably. While change management and change control do share similarities, they refer to two distinct processes. Specifically, change control refers to a particular element of a larger change management procedure; while change management refers to the full span of a particular change process, change control describes the deliberation and approval process that determines whether or not a particular change will occur within a given organization.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the definitions of these two processes and explore how they interact with one another:
At its core, change management is the logistical process of enacting and tracking change within an organization. The change management process is an essential element of all organizations; however, it is especially important in industries with precise and regulated processes, such as manufacturing and healthcare.
While on the surface it may seem simple to make a change within an organization, change is a complicated process that requires forethought, research, planning, and approval. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of moving parts operating at every organization, and changing just one piece of the puzzle can cause a domino effect with far-reaching impact across departments.
Every organization should have its own change management procedure. What that process is depends highly on what sort of industry you work in, what kinds of processes your organization operates on the day-to-day, and what sorts of standards and regulations your company is beholden to. Regardless of industry, however, there are a few standard elements to a good change management process, including:
- Identifying the problem at the root of the change
- Submitting a change request
- Gaining approval from stakeholders
- Developing a strategy to enact the change
- Tracking the success of the change once it has been implemented
Dr. John Kotter, author and thought leader in the field of business management, has an outline of a practical change management model in his bestselling book Leading Change; this outline is a good starting place for organizations looking to establish their own process. Once the process has been outlined and finalized, a good process management software solution like Issuetrak can be invaluable in ensuring each step is completed quickly and in the proper order.
Change control, while deeply related to change management, refers to a distinct concept. change control is the process of evaluating suggested changes and determining whether or not they should be enacted within the organization. The change control process exists as a way to prevent organizations from undergoing too many unnecessary changes, ensuring that each approved change will be beneficial and worth the effort of integration.
In most cases, change control falls into the jurisdiction of an individual or a group of people who have the knowledge and authority to make overarching decisions at an organization -- typically people in management or leadership positions. These individuals serve a highly important function by objectively evaluating change proposals and helping to maintain order throughout a company. They review change requests, ask relevant questions, analyze potential company-wide impact, and ultimately make the final approval decision.
Software solutions like Issuetrak provide both those proposing change and those deliberating on approvals with tools that streamline and expedite the entire process. From automatic notifications and updates for stakeholders to easily-customized forms and templates for speedy submission, Issuetrak helps to standardize and simplify the change management and change control processes.