Research Proposal: Organizational Change

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Organizational Change

While change can come in many forms for the reassignment of duties and roles in an organization to the challenge of corporate takeover, one of the most daunting changes that affect people and organizations on many levels is a change to a legacy computer system that a company and its staff has used for years. This will be the topic of the case study under question. While companies can work along with the same systems for many years, eventually change comes to all systems as new technology is no longer compatible with older legacy products. Still, resistance is high to these changes, and true addictions have developed to the "way we've always done it mentality to change. Take for instance the following case study involving a non-profit community action organization and the need to update their out of date DOS-based Grant and Fund management software to a windows compatible system.

Case Study: Compassionate Community Action upgrade of financial software.

Compassionate Community Action is a private, not-for-profit charitable organization that began in 1964 as a grassroots effort to improve the lives of low-income children, families, and individuals in Compassionate County. We were incorporated as a 501(c)3 in 1966 and are one of over 1,000 Community Action Agencies (CAAs) in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Territories Each year a consumer mix of over 6500 households and individuals come to Compassionate Community Action for assistance. We administer over 16 programs annually, tailored to the needs of an ever-changing community. As a Community Action Agency, Compassionate Community Action endeavors to conscientiously and efficiently utilize all available funding resources to assist our consumers in acquiring beneficial skills and knowledge, gaining access to new opportunities, and achieving economic self-sufficiency. Compassionate Community Action operates 15 sites around the area. Ten of these are Head Start and other After School programs operating out of donated space at local schools

Their mission statement is: Compassionate Community Action partners with low-income households and individuals as they develop to their full potential. Compassionate Community Action is composed of many departments which include; Head Start, Energy Services Department, Family Resources and Housing services. The Agency also has an Administration Department consisting of the Executive Director, Human Resource Director and Chief Financial Officer. The CFO oversees the finance department composed of the Fiscal Coordinator, Payroll/Benefits Specialist and Senior Bookkeeper. It is the finance department that is the major stakeholder for the change and upgrade to a new financial management software system. The background on the staff: The fiscal coordinator is a new member there for 2 years and has an IS background and is in charge of the change process, the payroll/benefits specialist is a 5-year member and the Senior Bookkeeper has been there for 20 years and has worked on the legacy software for 14 years. A change consultant has been asked to evaluate the situation and has interview the CFO about the process.

1. Who do you see as the stakeholders for this change? The Senior Bookkeeper and Payroll specialist .

2. What are the short- and long-term goals of this project?

Short-term is to be able to access our records from past years and current years. To make the changeover as easy as possible and to keep on track with all of the usual financial duties like payroll, vouchering for grants, etc.

Long-term: greater flexibility analyzing and inputting data in to the system. Less time trying to put disparate data together for presentations.

3. What will do you keep this change project on track?

Put key players in the right place. You, for instance, are really going to be my project leader for the finance department. Then Joy and Gina will need to be trained and informed of all activities prior to the actual changeover.

4. Of the stakeholders, have you analyzed the positive and negative viewpoints of each and if so what have you discovered?

After looking over things I think that most of the people involved in the change are fairly positive about it. Except for Joy, who does not play well with change and/or computers in general. This is also going to affect her way of doing things in general.

5. Do you see any pitfalls on the horizon?

I am mostly concerned with any change in personnel during the initial stages of the project changeover. And also with any disruption to the normal flow of events to the Agency at large.

6. What are the strengths you will use to pull this project together?

To create a functioning team with a supervisory leader that has the skills to lead and the it knowledge as well

7. Do you feel that the management team has been positive to the change?

Yes, in fact they have been wondering what has taken us so long to get o with it

8. Do you envision staff changes during or after this process?

a.) if so, are their contingency plans in place to ride this out? Yes, I believe our senior bookkeeper will leave, as of the moment there is no plan in place.

9. Are you looking forward to this change process?

Yes and no, yes because we need to update our software and now because the current system does work well and it is going to a big upheaval to change everything.

10. Are you more interested in the outcome rather than the actual process?

Absolutely, I can't wait till it is over and about 3 months has passed so everything can get back to normal.

One of the most important aspects between the main stakeholders of the change, and one that is certainly missing from this project in light of the interview responses, is a meeting of the minds when it come to the process and the vision. (Senge 1994) the vision held by the CFO and the outcomes she is looking for were certainly not on target with an appropriate transition. She seems to just want to get through it, and this is not very helpful when it comes to either the initial change process or the ongoing momentum necessary to keep everyone on target. (Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan & Switzler, 2008) in fact that kind of strategy, if you can call it that, is very similar to Kotter's decree of not declaring victory too soon (Kotter, 1996). In this scenario, the CFO has one victory in mind of just getting it over with rather than even a real victory like getting the process in place and seeing one month of new reports and checking that everyone's goals have been met. The following says it best: " File your flight plan and track your progress. Strategic direction is never more crucial than during a crisis. Leaders must find the most leveraged plan of action, stick with it, and continually monitor the company's performance against it" (Brenneman, 1998). It is also necessary to function as a team, even though there is a leader or facilitator the team must act as a whole in order to secure and characterize the change process. (Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan & Switzler, 2008)

Kotter also brings up the idea of disciplined people much later in the stages when addressing the ideas of declaring victory too soon (1996, p.13). It takes disciplined people not to get too full of themselves and rest on their laurels after an initial victory; the real lasting change comes from the ongoing and often tedious process of just keeping on.

As Edward Demmings Points out in a few of his 14 points of management that one has to break down barriers between departments. People in any of the departments of an organization must work as a team in order to foresee problems that may arise before, during and after the change that may be encountered with the product or service (Demmings, 2005). This cooperation may be the prototype that can assist in bringing other areas of the Agency together as well. There is another point regarding transformation and change that Demmings asks us to be aware of, and rightly so. It is essential to put everyone in the agency to work to accomplish the change and that everyone is kept informed on changes and as much input as can be had is asked for prior to changes taking place (Demmings 2005). The coordination, managerial oversight and marshaling of resources needed to implement any of these systems make for a change effort like no other.

All too often, however, hopes are dashed, and the effort is deemed a failure. "Various studies have shown that in 30% to 75% of cases, new systems don't live up to expectations, register a measurable financial impact, improve work processes, or bring about organizational change."(McAfee, 2003).

It is also important to secure top management commitment. Such advice always pops up; the question is, Top management commitment to do what? Most of the implementation leaders I've worked with are more than eager to pitch in; they just aren't sure how or where… [END OF PREVIEW]

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