Managing change

As you are aware, we live in a changing world. Some of the external changes that affect our work are:

  • One billion Internet users
  • 60 per cent of electronic access comes from mobile devices
  • Users expect everything online, instantly accessible twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
  • The information environment is changing - there are many more players and many more routes to obtaining information
  • Creators of information are not records management professionals
  • New skills are required to support the changes in information management and access.

What does this mean for the information management community and for information governance?

  • We are moving from a predictable world of paper to a volatile world of information in all kinds of formats (not just electronic records management systems)
  • As well as dealing with the amount of paper that is still with us – generally estimated to be about 25 years worth – we need to actively consider strategies and procedures for preserving electronic records
  • The expectations of users need to be met; they will expect delivery, presentation and sometimes the interpretation of information ever more quickly and ever more intelligently.

Managing an ever-changing environment
In order to meet this enormous challenge we need to analyse, design and plan for the operational business changes that will be needed for staff to support the new environment. Business change is an area of large projects and initiatives that often gets forgotten about or, at best, given low priority. Yet it affects every project where change results (and what project does not have that effect?).

Business Change Projects
Business Change Projects should be the norm for any programme that is planning to introduce new functions, new systems or new procedures. Most such projects have the following objectives:

  • To identify, establish and bring into operation the necessary business change across the organisation to accommodate the introduction of systems to support the new programme initiative, and to support other stakeholders in introducing any necessary changes in their organisation, operations and staffing
  • To identify training requirements
  • To undertake a benefits management process – establishing baseline information and eventually identifying how and what benefits can be realised.

Many government organisations that undertake business change and other large projects have adopted the PRINCE 21 methodology approach to project management. The process for managing the areas of work in this way is often divided into seven stages:

  • Identify the scope
  • Develop new processes and procedures
  • Undertake an impact assessment
  • Compile and agree business change plans
  • Implement the business change plans
  • Obtain feedback and revise as necessary
  • Implement revised plans.

Impact Assessment
A key element of the process is the impact assessment. There are many examples of such assessments but, while there are certain generic aspects to them, any particular undertaking has to be tailored specifically for the procedure(s) being assessed. Each project is likely to have a different impact on working practices.
When carried out successfully an impact assessment will help to identify the resources and skills an organisation needs to meet its client needs. Above all it will contribute significantly to strategic planning and the identification of training needs.
An important preliminary to undertaking a full assessment is the gathering of relevant information. There may be areas indirectly related to the process that need to be taken into consideration in effecting any business change arising from the assessment. For example, what is the organisation’s overall information services strategy? Are there plans to purchase new software or hardware in the next few years? Are staffing levels likely to be maintained in the near future? Are there wider government initiatives that have an influence?

Follow-up to the Assessment

  • Action plan – an action plan needs to indicate clearly the issues, proposed actions, who is leading the plan, resource implications, timetable and objectives. The plan should include processes that will monitor the implementation and the outcomes.
  • Wider implications – are there any issues, strategies or procedures that have emerged from the assessment and which will have relevance for a wider audience?
  • Report and feedback – the results of the assessment and the suggested changes to business procedures should be reported and circulated to clients. Feedback should be encouraged and any modifications to the action plan be considered and implemented.

In reality there is no conclusion to this process. Business change is a constantly evolving issue in the context of an activity (such as electronic records and information management) that is itself continually evolving. The advances in technology are inexorable and one of the greatest challenges for records and information managers is to keep pace with them. This brief examination of one element of the process may serve as a timely reminder of what lies in store.

1. See the website for more information on this methodology

Impact Assessment Questionnaire
The following is a broad outline of an impact assessment questionnaire (it uses the development of new electronic systems as an example):

A succinct statement of what the key purpose of the overall Programme is and of what the project is intended to achieve. Questions on current information technology infrastructure.
For example;

  • Broad ICT architecture
  • Software systems used - is there an electronic records management system or a local area network, etc?
  • What is the staffing structure for the ICT discipline, including required qualifications at particular levels?


  • What previous consultations have taken place?
  • What major impacts are identified?

- On software
- On hardware
- On IT infrastructure generally
- On staff/staffing
- On current policies and practices
- On users and stakeholders
- On finance/budgets

Other enquiries
As a result of the assessment, identify other persons or organisations that should be consulted (for example, are there any experts who should be contacted?) Has the assessment identified any additional evidence or information that is required?

For more information
Address: Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU
Phone: 020 8876 3444


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