Handling Change Management Non-Compliance

Jim emails ‘Put this one in the blog if you like, but edit out the numbers and change my name. I have to keep track of a 000’s of computers that are on customer sites (we don’t own the equipment need to know where it is). The trouble is our engineers move things and change things without telling me. We have a procedure but it’s routinely not followed. What can I do or should I start looking for another job?’.

Hi ‘Jim’ and thanks for emailing. It’s probably a bit early to start sending your CV out, as there are a few things you can do and suggest to make improvements.

I know from our follow-up emails that you have a Change procedure at your company – the trouble is that it isn’t being followed. A crucial part of your Change process (and indeed most such processes) is the step where the Asset Management/Configuration Management process is informed, allowing records to be brought up-to-date and re-verified.

This non-conformance leads to all sorts of problems, such as: someone phones up to report a problem with equipment which you have registered against site X, but the equipment has been moved to site Y (and subsequently cannot be found) I also know that there is a lot of movement going on each week.

The temptation might be to storm into the Service Delivery Manager’s office and demand that everyone is fired. However, it’s always best to be constructive when trying to solve problems, so I’d try to do a bit of fact-finding first.

I’d want to find out is why the Change procedures, that should notify you of all movements and Changes, are not being followed. Specifically, I’d want to find out:

  • If no-one actually knows about these procedures
  • If the Change procedures are generally known about but are not followed because of some negative perception (it might be they are perceived as cumbersome and bureaucratic)
  • If there was a general culture of apathy and non-cooperation
  • Other cultural factors at play (such as significant time pressure placed on field engineers who respond by moving from one job straight to the next)

What you discover on the fact-find will enable you to suggest solutions.

  • Procedure not understood or known > More training, better documentation
  • Procedures known but not followed > Suggests a re-drafting of your procedures, and/or greater management support and enforcement

… and so on. Be careful how you do your fact-find. Specifically, be careful of asking just managers, who often have a completely different view of the organisation from technicians and engineers.

It also might be the case you need more senior managerial support than you are getting – this is a really vital ingredient. Assuming that any issues with your working practices themselves have been resolved, you sometimes need senior managers to remind people that compliance is mandatory, and not optional.