HSE Knowledge

Improving the Management of Change

An effective MoC process ensures that all aspects of the modification of the product, process, installation, spares, procedures and organisation are adequately assessed, thus ensuring that changes do not lead to dangerous situations. An MoC process requires that for every change the risks must be assessed and everyone has to be informed about the change, so every person involved knows that, for instance, he or she has to operate or maintain the installation differently. MoC is so important for safety that the Labour Inspection has been paying much attention to it in recent years. Are you getting the most out of your MoC process?

Management of Change (MoC) is an important means to ensure the safety of plants; it is also an opportunity for continuous improvement and a means to assess the balance between the advantages and disadvantages of changes. 

A large yield
MoC is primarily seen as a means for safety but can also be used as a means for improvement proposals, thus MoC can be used for channelling proposals and continuous improvements but also to stop any changes that would result in more disadvantages than advantages. If employees are able to request changes in an easy manner, the improvement potential of the company will grow. If the costs and benefits of changes are assessed by all stakeholders, the chance that a proposal will cost more than it brings in, will be greatly reduced.

An effective MoC process can have a lot of yield; often, however, factories do not succeed in letting their MoC process run smoothly. The question then is whether this is caused by a lack of discipline, the procedure, or even the means?

Several possibities
There are several types of changes that vary in size and working area; we find that a single MoC procedure usually is insufficient to handle all these types of change fast and smoothly enough, one then hears that employees find the procedure too complex, submit few change requests or bypass the procedure.

Our experience is that it works better if the MoC process offers various opportunities for large/small urgent/non-urgent changes and changes in different areas. In such a case it must then be possible to request and assess a small and urgent change quickly and with little effort; the threshold for requesting a change is then low and employees have no reason to bypass the procedure. A major change can then be routed through another procedure that requires more information and steps and evaluates all necessary aspects. So a small modification of the installation does not have to go through the entire engineering process with all its phases, assessments, drawings and other documents.

Working area
It also works better if the MoC process can vary with the working area. A procedure for changing the organisation has other steps and information requirements than the procedure for modifying the product. It makes it possible to initiate (and conclude) all types of changes in the same way, but let them take a different course from that point onwards; the change in the organisation, for example, thus runs through the works council, whereas the modification of the product requires input from customers.

The most important thing however is, that the MoC process is not looked upon as being the same as the Engineering or HRM process. The MoC process should only focus on monitoring the core (security, solving the problem) and not on supporting all engineering stages, organisational changes, financial settlement, etc.

Also contributing to a smooth MoC process are the resources one has at one’s disposal to go through the steps in time and to share the information with all the other stakeholders. The MoC process consists of several actions which often have to be done sequentially by different disciplines; if the change request is resting with each discipline for a certain period of time or goes to the wrong discipline, the process is delayed or grinds to a halt. The procedure is a chain where all the links determine the result and tools are required to determine at what point in the process the change is and whether the process is running smoothly. The 'owner' of the change and the administrator of the MoC process should be able to keep a good overview of the process steps taken and to be taken, and all stakeholders should know when they have to take what steps. It is also important to provide feedback to the applicant in order to ensure that employees are being encouraged to submit proper proposals.

What certainly does not help during a MoC process is all those involved to constantly need to write and retrieve the information involved in other documents or systems. If a request is first written on paper, then has to be laid down in Excel to monitor progress and results, and then in Word to record these results, handling changes is too cumbersome and everyone loses the overview. We at iBanx are convinced that a successful MoC process is only possible if the procedure fits the different types of changes and if means are available to share the information properly and make the status of the change transparent to all those involved. And that calls for an appropriate IT system.

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