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Why is Current State Understanding so Important?

Understanding current state, “as-is”, is vital to the change story because you need the starting point in order to communicate where you are going.  Think of current state as the beginning of the roadmap to take you from current state, through the “messy middle” (transition), and on to the future state.

Leaders often want to jump to the future state before they document the current state, which is a painful process requiring time and money they typically do not want to spend. Some see this step as a waste of time; they want to get right to designing a new solution. This kind of thinking can lead to design that does not address gaps or solve issues, making it difficult to design the right solution for the future state.

Clear understanding of current systems and processes is critical to building the future state. Whether it is documented or not, there is always a current state, even if a brand new process is being created. Consider these points about current state:

  • Lack of technology does not indicate lack of current state, simply that current state is manual.
  • The details of the current state process are necessary to create a future state which meets the needs of employees performing the process.
  • The perception that there is no current state really means there are gaps in an existing process, which will be resolved by the new future state.
  • The current state identifies gaps that need to be documented into the future state requirements and design. Gaps indicate areas of current state process that are missing. If these gaps are not identified and documented, they will continue to be gaps in the future state. As said earlier, you cannot transform something if you don’t understand the details of what needs to be transformed.

Current state and future state need to analyze people, processes, and technology.  This is important for two reasons:

1. From a business analysis perspective, to ensure requirements for the future state are accurately captured so the new system and processes can be designed to address gaps and requirements appropriately.

2. From an organizational change management (OCM) perspective, to understand the impact of the change – how large, how small, how complex – so strategies can be developed to assist users through the change curve to quickly adopt the new systems and processes.

There are many important benefits to documenting current state – for the business as a whole, for the technical team, for the change management team, etc. This documentation:

  • Helps provide a clear picture of what is changing by identifying gaps in the current state and requirements for the future state.
  • Ensures everything needed to enable the business process has been thought through and accounted for in the future state; fitting all the pieces together into the big picture. This gets everyone on the same page – leadership, project team, stakeholders, and technology vendor.
  • Sets expectations for who, what, when, and how activities are to be accomplished.
  • Helps identify weaknesses and opportunities to further improve your process before implementation.
  • Helps stakeholders and users see and understand the change by being able to visually compare the current and future state.
  • Can easily be augmented with screenshots and further details to become process-driven training, which is more digestible for end users.

The primary purpose for organizational change management is to help stakeholders more easily navigate the transition from current state to future state, leading to adoption and increased utilization of the new processes and technology. Current state analysis provides the foundational component needed to propel the business solution forward.

Current state assessments require the involvement of experienced employees who use the process regularly. If there is no current state documentation, then gather employees who are the primary targets of the change to document the gaps that the future state will solve.  They are the subject matter experts – they know the pain points in the current state and can help identify ways to improve or eliminate those pain points in the future state.