Why a Business Analyst’s Change Readiness Assessment is Crucial
Founders and entrepreneurs often have dozens of good ideas at any one time about how they can move their companies forward. They know that their businesses need to evolve if they are going to stay competitive and grow. However, constant change can wear employees down — and might not be right for the organization in the moment. This is where a change readiness assessment comes in. Learn more about this tool and how business analysts use it to evaluate a company’s capability to handle change.
What Is a Change Readiness Assessment?
A change readiness assessment highlights potential problems facing the company as it goes through changes and provides insight into how ready it is for change.
The evaluation and planning stages are crucial, according to Niels Van Hove, engagement principal at Aera Technology. He reports that “60-90 percent of strategy implementations fail, while only 14 percent of executives are satisfied with the execution of a strategy.” This insight alone should be enough to convince you about the importance of planning for any organizational change.
Understanding how ready an organization is for change may seem like a vague concept at first. Senior change management consultant Chris Smith breaks down the key elements you are assessing and the answers business analysts need before they can recommend a change process. These are:
- How technically capable employees are of handling the new changes.
- How agile an organization is when it comes to change.
- Which existing change systems can improve these processes.
Basically, you need to analyze how “capable, ready and willing” an organization is to change. Even if your team is open to change, they may not be immediately able or ready to handle a change.
Business analysts provide analysis for whether organizational change is a smart, strategic move. They offer concrete data and qualitative insights that executives might not have.
“Many senior leaders underestimate the degree of effort it will take to implement and sustain meaningful organizational change,” writes Robert Tanner, leadership development professional. “Being at the top of the organization, they are removed from some of the operational factors and people issues that can derail any change effort.”
Additionally, they can be so focused on keeping the business profitable that they don’t have time to consider whether a change is right for their team members. Analysis can guide leadership and prevent an unnecessary or overwhelming change strategy being implemented.
4 Reasons to Conduct a Change Readiness Assessment Before a Major Project
The benefits of conducting a change readiness assessment extend beyond the leadership team. The whole company, from new employees to investors, can reap the benefits of strategic change evaluation.
Business Analysts Can Remove Blind Spots for Leadership
A change readiness assessment can challenge assumptions and prevent confirmation bias in executives who want to move ahead with new ideas.
“Leaders often feel like they already know the answers to some key change readiness questions: who is impacted, are they resistors to or supporters of the change, and how the change impacts those stakeholder groups. A readiness assessment will bring to light any misalignment between leadership and staff,” writes management consultant Amber Pandya.
This means that change assessment does more than just alert management to change barriers: It also highlights the differences between ideas and realities in terms of how the company operates. Some teams will hire outside third parties to handle this analysis, just to make sure they get an objective view.
Leaders Can Understand How Ready Teams Are for Change
Even if executives have a clear view of the company, the organization might not be ready for change just yet. Some experts use the term “change fitness” to determine how capable teams are of handling change.
“If the employees and leaders in a business have low change fitness, the business isn’t ready for change,” says change readiness consultant Dr. Steve Barlow. “They may be ready to start, but they aren’t ready to succeed. They’re ready to run into some serious resistance.”
The change process is a marathon, not a sprint. Your team members need real skills and resilience to handle new structures and ideas. If your company isn’t ready, then your change won’t stick or will stall halfway through the execution.
Change Stakeholders Can Improve Their Plans to Account for Roadblocks
The consultants at Mi-GSO Pcubed explain that failing to assess and understand the impact of change will lead to roadblocks at every turn. Your team members and stakeholders will have more hurdles than expected, which may dilute their excitement and buy-in for the project.
If there are issues with implementing change, especially cultural issues, the change readiness assessment will identify them and get to the root of the issue so it can be eliminated before the change process begins.
The readiness assessment isn’t meant to serve as an approval or denial of change, but rather a roadmap to readiness, says Bernard Gallagher, IT principal at I.S. Partners. If your company isn’t capable of handling change right now, the assessment will identify steps leadership can take to make team members ready. It will highlight roadblocks that need to be cleared away or create a timeline for when changes can begin.
The assessment can kick off some of the pre-planning needed to ensure a smoother change implementation.
Teams Can Get to the Root Cause of Change Resistance
Getting to the root of the issue is incredibly important in change management. Too often, business analysts place employees in one of two categories: ready for change or not ready for change. However, this doesn’t explain why some team members are change-resistant. They likely aren’t just being difficult, but rather have valid reasons for being change phobic.
Ogbe Airiodion, senior change management consultant, says they could be experiencing burnout or work for someone who has taught them to oppose change. The only way you will win these employees over is if you get to the root of their problems.
“Purpose is a huge motivating factor for employees,” the team at AchieveIt writes. “Everyone wants to feel like their contributions impact the success of their organization.”
Some employees might not push back because they don’t like change, but rather because they can’t handle it or have been burned by change before. This assessment can help leaders pinpoint employees that need to align with the overall vision for the company so they can instill a sense of purpose in their work.
How Business Analysts Can Effectively Assess a Company’s Readiness for Change
Business analysts have a number of tools and resources for conducting a change readiness assessment. The methods you choose can vary based on your organization and change needs.
Identify What You Want to Measure
Change management consultant Daniel Lock, keeps a growing list of tools and resources that BAs and leaders can tap into as they look to assess and implement change within their organizations. He insists that his clients use a variety of tools to assess, communicate, and implement change so that their analysis is thorough.
One tool he highlights is the “Buy-in Index,” which measures attitudes about change throughout the course of the project. A simple survey with a few questions can help you see who supports the change, who understands what is happening, and how people think their peers are responding to the plans.
Evaluating concepts like buy-in or change resilience isn’t easy. That is why the team at SiriusDecisions created a comprehensive list of metrics you can use to evaluate business objectives, project performance and stakeholder adoption. This shows how you can take a seemingly qualitative metric, like “willingness to change,” and add quantitative insights such as job performance changes, support requests, employee feedback and behavioral shifts around an idea. You can use their metrics as a guide for your own evaluations.
Choose Which Tools Are Right for Your Team
One of the great things about conducting a change readiness assessment is that you can use tools based on your needs and expectations.
Amanda Athuraliya at Creately developed a guide that breaks down different charts you can use to evaluate the change process. These include Gantt Chart tutorials and process maps as well as culture mapping (which allow you to understand where the influence lies), plus a force field analysis that helps business analysts identify the forces working with and against them. You don’t have to use all of these tools, but it’s good to know what is at your disposal.
Implementing a change assessment like a cultural mapping or a force field analysis can help management focus their efforts once the change process is underway.
“It’s up to management to ensure employees tasked with bringing about change don’t have to contend with [entrenched] opposition,” writes the team at Reflektive, referring to employees that are actively opposing and pushing back against change. Managers should step in when someone resists change to that degree. Knowing who the problem employees could be beforehand can save teams a significant amount of surprise issues.
Your Readiness Assessment Isn’t Your Whole Change Plan
A change assessment isn’t meant to serve as a comprehensive tool to execute change. Tim Creasey, chief innovation officer at Prosci, says assessments should only be planning aids, different from the actual planning process itself. The goal is to use this assessment, among other tools, to prepare for change and help the team understand what needs to happen and why.
Business management consultant Patricia Lotich says the assessment process can also help your company make a case for change within the organization. “No one wants to change for change sake, so it is important to create a case for change,” she writes. By reviewing the roadblocks and barriers to change, business analysts show how the change will improve the company as teams eliminate these barriers.
Your change readiness assessment isn’t even the first step before implementing change. It is the process that comes before step one. It is pre-planning and evaluation. Without this insight, you could end up starting a project that is doomed to fail or requires significantly more effort than you realized.