Changing processes, regardless of how inconsequential it may seem, can have a big impact on your business. That’s why it’s so important to anticipate as many challenges as possible before you fully implement new variables. Below are some areas that process changes affect the most, so you can review your own operation and reduce downstream issues.
Productivity slowdowns and shutdowns
Process changes can always affect productivity. Without proper planning, slowdowns and shutdowns are a major possibility.
Even if you do everything in your power to avoid them, production issues are sometimes unavoidable. If, for example, you have to turn off the process so you can install and test new equipment, you’ll need to plan ahead for that.
It’s best to predict these problems in the first stages of project planning. In my experience, having a dedicated change management process is the key to avoiding unintended consequences. If you track everything you’re doing during implementation, it’s easier to foresee and avoid problems.
Learning curve for employees
Most process changes will require your employees to change how they do things. In some cases, major changes result in a big learning curve. If that’s the case, you might want to consider new process training.
Here are some examples of what employees might need to learn or re-learn:
- How to work new machinery
- How to work existing machinery differently
- The order of steps in the process
- How to put on, inspect, and use new PPE
- How to perform new inspections and checks
Quality defects and customer issues
Changing processes can negatively affect customer experience if it disrupts the quality of your product or service. In manufacturing, for example, a new piece of equipment may unexpectedly alter the final product. Before you change how you manufacture goods, always review your quality assurance process so that no errors slip through the cracks.
Or maybe you’ve changed your customer support process and now your clients are struggling to resolve basic issues. If you’re changing your services, make sure customers have easy access to support in case unexpected problems arise.
New health and safety risks
Introducing new equipment, chemicals, tools, and other variables into a process can negatively affect health and safety. When changing processes, it’s important to conduct a risk assessment of the new setup. That way, you can better identify and control hazards.
I’d also recommend that you review how the changed process affects employee behavior. Is it likely to encourage unsafe choices or cut corners?
Behavioral safety is equally important as the risks that come from equipment. If you expect possible unsafe behaviors to develop, address them in your revised training for the process. At the very least, new employees should learn how to interact with the new variables in the safest way possible.
Tenured employees who may be set in their ways could have difficulty adjusting habits to the new process. Just expect this ahead of time and commit to supervising the process for the first few weeks so that all employees develop safe behaviors.
Use MOC software to avoid issues
One of the best ways to reduce issues with process changes is to use management of change software. This helps by ensuring that your team follows a standard workflow for approving and implementing new changes.
It also has the added benefit of documenting everything you’re doing to introduce process changes. That way, you have records of various projects for either internal or external purposes.
If you’re interested in exploring Frontline MOC as a change management solution, check out the webinar below or schedule a demo with our sales team.