Change Management: What is it? When Should I Use it?
Change Management:
What is it? When should I use it?
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Change Management: What is it? When Should I Use it?

Donald Baldwin

By Donald Baldwin
President, Baldwin Aviation Inc.

We are asked quite often for a detailed explanation of how to “manage change” and why we must do so in an aviation organization. The simplest answer is that changes bring about additional risks that need to be mitigated and controlled. A few examples of change may include the following:

  • Replacing an aircraft with another type
  • Change of leadership personnel
  • Changes to policies and procedures
  • Crew retention and turnover
  • Adding other locations and operating bases

Although most changes in an organization will be pretty straightforward, ANY change in an organization requires some attention. Too often we hear people say that they do not have time for managing a change to a flight operation because they don’t have the resources. This avoidance could have severe consequences going forward.

Let’s start with a definition right out of ICAO Document 9859:
“A formal process for systematic and proactive identification of hazards and of appropriate mitigation strategies and measures, to be applied to all changes concerning the safety of services provided by an aviation organization.”

Where to start? A change management process should identify changes within the organization that may affect established procedures, processes, products, or services. Identify what is changing as early as possible, what is different, and what the change will impact. The goal of this process is a reduction in the safety risks resulting from changes made by the organization to the As Low As Reasonably Practical (ALARP) level.

For example, consider the following issue:
The FAA is considering eliminating a circling approach procedure to an airport where you operate. You have an older aircraft without approved area navigation equipment.

Will you be able to serve our customers during IFR conditions?

What impact will there be on your organization? Possibilities include:

  • Advising customers on the change and alternatives
  • Chartering an aircraft capable of flying the required approach
  • Installing equipment capable of flying straight-in approaches
  • Amendments to the policy on circling approaches
  • Crew training
  • New maintenance requirements
  • And the list goes on…

“System description is one of the fundamental preliminary activities in the planning of an SMS. The objective of the system description is to determine a baseline hazard analysis for the baseline system.”

Consider the following:

  • Critical nature of systems in this process
  • Stability of systems and operational environments
  • Past performance

Identify each specific area that will need to be addressed such as management, equipment, operations, training, etc. Identify each and every aspect that the change will touch. Once each area is identified, document and do the following for each:

  • Describe how the change will impact this specific area and how critical it is
  • Assess the risk and resulting exposure
  • Document the mitigation implemented to decrease risk to its lowest reasonable level
  • Assign a champion to be responsible for this specific area of change

This is a proven plan for managing a change in your organization. Spend time to ensure everyone who is impacted is briefed and understands what is expected.

“As the system evolves, seemingly small, incremental changes in the system (or the environment which provides the context of operation) can accumulate over time, which will mean the management of change, the system description and the baseline hazard analysis should be reviewed periodically, even if circumstances of change are not present, to determine their continued validity.

When changes to the system are made, and periodically thereafter, an organization should go over its system, its anticipated, and its actual operational environment, to make sure it continues to hold a clear picture of the circumstances under which the provision of service takes place.”

The time spent on your change management process will be beneficial in reducing and mitigating future operational risk. It is well worth the small effort to avoid a significant mistake.

To participate in Baldwin’s next Town Hall Meeting (July 31st) focused on Change Management, contact Candace Hobus.

Baldwin Aviation Inc. Baldwin Aviation Inc.
Customized Safety/Quality Management programs and related business solutions developed by experienced and credentialed safety professionals include training, manual management and SMS implementation/software. Based on ICAO and other international standards and regulations, Baldwin’s programs support Business Aviation, Charter, MRO, Ground Operations and Handling, FBO, Airport, Medical Transport, UAS and Regional Airlines by providing scalable/flexible software, an outstanding customer experience, and our Commitment to Excellence.

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