"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." - Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

When you are undertaking a change initiative, no matter how large or small I am a firm believer that you must start with a plan.

If it is a small undertaking you may be able to use a simple project plan that includes the goals and objectives of the project (including benefits).

However if you are undertaking a larger improvement initiative which involves multiple processes, multiple functional areas, multiple departments, significant capital expenditure, a number of internal and/or external resources you will need a much more comprehensive business or strategic plan. The challenge with these larger initiatives are that they will probably involve more groups with many touch points but there is a high probability that there may be multiple possible solutions.

Given this complexity you can use the development of this business plan to:

  • Involve the effected parties
  • Build support and buy-in for the effort
  • Clearly articulate the goals of the initiative
  • Outline and understand potential solutions
  • Select the optimal solution to meet your goals
  • Identify gaps in your plan (e.g., resources, capital, etc.)
  • Understand and document the risks and benefits of your improvement effort
  • Develop a cost/benefit plan with a project timeline
  • Communicate with senior management to ensure alignment and support
  • Use as a communication vehicle to a broader audience

Another benefit of a plan of this nature is you are able to understand various solution options, understand their cost, benefit, risk, and acceptability to the company and ultimate narrow your options down to the approach supported by senior management.

For example, a client I was working with had two main goals reduce and stabilize there “back-office” costs while setting the stage for future expansion. After careful evaluation and involvement of most of the effected parties we were able to develop a plan that, although global, started with the United States operations and defined how each process would be handled (e.g., remain local, move to a shared service center, or outsource). We also developed a detailed plan for the next steps and a business case so they would understand the costs and benefits of moving forward.

This blog is a brief overview of what should be done to plan for a major change. I have been involved in many of these efforts with all types of companies (i.e., Retail, Entertainment, Pharmaceutical, Manufacturing, Energy, etc.) and have found it the best way to start large change initiatives. You can be sure everyone understands what you are proposing and you will understand the level of senior management support. Best of all, depending upon the scope of your change initiative and the level of detail your organization requires a plan of this nature can be completed in less than 3 months.