September 27, 2015

Business Continuity – the Key Technology Driver

broken chain


broken chain

   Integration of change    control leads to efficiency


Business continuity management  is made up of many parts, typically made part of the Disaster Preparedness Plan; so integrated change control is an opportunity waiting to happen in most companies, because business continuity drives business. Consider this common current day example. A business unit requests a change to an existing application to deliver a new and exciting innovation for the customer. However, with no change control process in place, this simple example can crash the server, and take the business out of the digital space beyond its recognized recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO).

Now when you think about this challenge business leaders don’t care about recovery time, application flow, high availability or any other concept that technology adheres to. You know why? Because their customers aren’t happy because they can’t process transactions for whatever product or service this business is in business to do.

As a project manager, or consultant you can provide real value to the CIO by promoting change control. I don’t mean a specific software but the concept from the very tactical and simple process of service requests to the Help Desk through the highly strategic, enterprise risk, compliance and governance challenges. There are however, a plethora of apps in the market place today to help solve your change control and integrate them through the enterprise like Cierson.

Change control is an aspect of project management discipline that we regularly follow with Change control Logs, but you need to look beyond this to the concept of integrated change control management. Let me give you an example: data center infrastructure management systems identify existing equipment, location, connectivity and other aspects of computing, and provide real time ability to track and report changes right down to the cable and port level in the rack. Take this example and elevate it to the enterprise risk level, where a Disaster Preparedness Plan (DPP) establishes remedies for man-made risks, or Acts of God. When you apply integrated change control management principles across the enterprise you begin to elevate everything to a visible state, trackable and reportable for leadership. These transparencies do not exist even in the most sophisticated companies. Ask me, I just completed projects for more than one Fortune 500 enterprise.

So you say that you are just the project manager? When is there a better time for you to step forward and begin the conversation about how we can create a better way? Too many times, I witness PMs assume the role of starting and finishing a project with zero innovation. Somehow, the difference between PMI and ASQ has evolved into rigor versus innovation. Don’t get trapped into 100% of either, but make an effort to innovate in your projects.

How do I do that you say? Rely on the business and technical experts that work with you because no one knows better how to solve issues the enterprise faces than these people. Steer people toward problem identification, cost reduction strategies, and eliminating unnecessary activities in work streams. Use all your facilitation skills to motivate, reward, mentor and encourage this innovation. Realize it comes at some cost though. What is this cost? Stakeholder management. It is your best interest to let functional areas promote ideas and business cases or else you become that “Red Herring” in a sea of workers. If you follow this one axiom you should be seen in the best light by your stakeholders: give all the praise to the team members and accept all the problems and failure as your responsibility.

Try to control the things you can, and improve those you can’t! In an effort to give definition to my idea about business continuity and relate it to specific actions for a PM, I offer these thoughts about integrated change control management:

First, organize the improvement efforts around these strategies:

  1. Customers, members, or clients.
    1. Research, analytics, reports, stories, VOM, JD Power, member surveys, social feedback.
  2. Marketing.
    1. Brand, pricing, product, distribution, promotion.
  3. Product.
    1. Solves customer issues and research through Gartner, Forrester, Aberdeen, Google, BI, and CI.
  4. Technology.
    1. Brings solutions to life like user stories, business cases, or technology that brings speed to delivery such as AGILE or SCRUM.
    2. Architecture first as a starting point, and implementing Architectural Review Boards (ARB).
  5. Technology innovation.
    1. Innovation for enterprise technology such as ePaaS, SaaS, private cloud, hyper convergence, governance, risk management, DR and DPP, change control management, ARB, Tollgate processes.

Second, use these inputs for integrated change control management:

  • Scope – any change, even if it doesn’t appear to affect the project scope, are always examined to see if the change may have any impact on the business, IT, and project scope.
  • Schedule – the project manager examines the proposed change to see if the project schedule is affected. The project manager consider resource availability, access to the job site, cash flow predictions, and deadlines in the project schedule.
  • Costs – the project budget is constantly monitored for changes, even minor changes to the project budget can accumulate into significant cost overruns within the project. Labor is typically the largest expense on a project, so overages on completing project tasks can quick drive changes to the project costs.
  • Quality – any change can affect the expected quality of the project work. Any change, in particular changes to the project scope, can affect the quality and must be monitored for defects and unacceptable project work. Changes to the project schedule can affect project quality as the work force may rush through assignments to meet the project schedule, but generate defects in the rushed work.
  • Human Resources – changes to the project may require additional labor, specialized labor, or if the project is delayed, the project manager may lose key resources that have other assignments that now conflict with the delayed project schedule. Changes to the project team, such as team members leaving the organization, can also affect the entire project.
  • Communications – changes within the project must be communicated to the appropriate stakeholders at the appropriate time. When a change happens the project manager must examine who needs to be informed of the change and communicate the change in the best modality considering the change implications.
  • Risk – changes to the project can threaten the success of the project. Minor changes can have a domino effect on the project and introduce significant risks. All proposed changes must be examined for any possible risks the change may introduce to the project’s ability to reach its objectives.
  • Procurement – changes to the project can affect the procurement of the project. Consider changes to the project scope and how the need for additional materials, contract labor, or facilities can affect the need to procure these goods and services.
  • Stakeholders – changes to the project can positively or negatively affect the stakeholders’ synergy, excitement, and support of the project. The project manager must examine the potential affect the change may have on the project stakeholders. Some changes can add or remove stakeholders to the project; for example, adding or removing elements to the project scope can add or remove additional stakeholders to the project.

Integrated change control is a project management knowledge area that maps the effect a change, action, or outcome in one area or more areas and can be used tactically in the project or strategically at the enterprise level. When determining if a change is needed in the project or process it is paramount to perform integrated change control to keep everyone who needs to know involved and informed. A informed work force will perform better and mitigate risk by thinking forward about all changes and how they impact the enterprise.

Dave Howell is senior consultant, with more than 25 years performing program management, project management, 6-Sigma and facilitation for Fortune 500 companies, the United States Government and  small business. Dave is a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI), and holds a Master’s Degree in Quality Systems Management from National Graduate College. For more information contact Dave at 210-802-8949 or email him at or visit Hi Merit.


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