Book Image

Practical Change Management for IT Projects

By : Emily Carr
Book Image

Practical Change Management for IT Projects

By: Emily Carr

Overview of this book

Table of Contents (12 chapters)
Practical Change Management for IT Projects
About the Author
About the Reviewers


Think about the projects your company has implemented over the years. How many of them were successful? How many of them failed? Now, think about one of the projects that failed. Take a minute to write down the three main reasons it failed:

  1. ________________________________________________________________

  2. ________________________________________________________________

  3. ________________________________________________________________

If your company is like most companies, the reasons you wrote down have little to nothing to do with technology. They concern people. People didn't like the new technology. People weren't trained properly on the change. People hadn't received adequate communications and didn't understand the change. People had been through so many failed change projects in the past that they knew if they just waited long enough, this one would fail too, and they could go back to the old way of doing things.

Sound familiar?

Project teams rarely forget to work on the technology, but they often forget to work with the people, and no matter how amazing your new technology is, it's useless unless people use it efficiently.

This book will help you focus on people. It will walk you step by step through the main aspects of Change Management, so that by the time your new technology is ready, your people are ready, too.

How to use this book

This is not a theoretical book. It is a practical book that will prepare you to manage change in your organization. Throughout the book, as I explain each new concept, there will be an activity for you to complete that will allow you to put that new idea into action.

For many of the exercises, I will provide a sample solution. This will give you one possible way to complete the exercise, but it is not the definitive answer. Your answer will be unique to your project and organization. As you come back to this book for different projects, you are likely to find that the answers you come up with differ based on the unique characteristics of the change you are implementing.

If you are currently working on a project, I strongly encourage you to use your project for the activities. Think about how to apply the activities to your organization, and use your real-life situation to fill in the templates. By the end of the book, you will have the beginning of a Change Management plan that will prepare you to help the people in your organization to successfully adopt the change you are implementing.

If you don't have a project that you are working on, you can use the case study that I have included in this Preface. The case study represents a scenario that could easily occur in any organization. As you come to each exercise in the book, think about the case study, and use the details provided to complete the templates. This will give you practice in working with Change Management activities so that when you do have a project in your organization, you are prepared to apply the concepts in this book.

Because this book is specifically written for IT projects, the case study is focused on a technology-based change. Keep in mind though, that all of the ideas, activities, and templates included in the book can be used for any kind of change. They can be applied to culture changes, business process changes, or any other change you might be facing. In fact, few technology projects only make changes to technology. They typically incorporate changes to people, processes, tools, and the organization structure, so make sure you keep these types of changes in mind as well, as you consider the impact of your project on your people.

Case study

If you are not currently working on a project, refer back to this case study to complete the exercises throughout the book.

The challenge

Acme Corporation is currently using a "homegrown" computer system called UBuy to manage their purchasing. They have developed this system over the last 10 years. It has been designed specifically to meet their organization's needs. Every time the organization changes or a new need arises, the Information Technology (IT) department updates the system to meet the need.

Everyone at Acme is very happy with UBuy. Not only has the technology been customized for each department in the organization, but each department has also created their own business processes based on how they prefer to use it.

Everyone is happy, that is, except IT and leadership. UBuy has become increasingly difficult for IT to manage. There are so many customizations that the department is no longer able to keep track of all of the changes to the software. This makes it difficult to maintain. In addition, because the system is homegrown and heavily customized, every time a new person is hired into the IT department, it takes them a long time to learn how to support UBuy. Finding people to join their department is becoming harder each year.

The change

IT would like to implement a new purchasing system called We Shop. We Shop can be bought from a software vendor. Although it can be customized to the organization's needs, it will help standardize the purchasing software across all of the departments.

The benefits

Implementing We Shop will simplify system maintenance and support. It will also make it much easier to find qualified people to join the IT department, as it is a common software that many IT professionals have worked with at other companies.

When the IT manager proposes implementing We Shop to the leadership team, they quickly agree that it is a good idea. Leadership believes that We Shop will bring a number of benefits to Acme. First, they see the implementation of the new software as an opportunity to standardize the purchasing business processes across the organization. The diverse business processes that the departments followed in the past often led to confusion around how purchases should be made and approved. Second, by standardizing the business processes, leadership hopes they can implement new procedures that will reduce wasteful spending and improve the organization's bottom line. Finally, the leadership team knows that many of their competitors use We Shop, and they feel that implementing it at their organization will bring them in line with the industry standard.

The situation

At the next employee meeting, the Vice President of IT at Acme Corporation stands up and informs everyone that over the next year, the organization will be implementing We Shop. He explains why they are implementing it, and encourages everyone to help with the project in any way they can. Some people will be asked to participate on the project team, while others will not use the system until it goes live in a year. He believes that this is an important change for their organization, and expects that everyone will support the We Shop implementation.

The IT manager watches the presentation from the back of the auditorium. He sees many people nod their heads in agreement, and he leaves the meeting feeling optimistic about the project.

Over the next week, however, he begins to get worried. As he walks around the office, he hears more and more people talking about the project, and most of them are very negative. The Facilities department is worried that the new system will be difficult to use. They're so comfortable with the current system that they're scared to learn something new. The Finance department is worried that because the new system is standardized, it won't meet their specific data capture and reporting needs.

The Human Resources and Sales departments are worried about the changes to the business processes. Some people are worried leadership will use this opportunity to implement rules that will give them a "big brother" view of every purchase. Others are concerned that the new processes will be cumbersome, increasing the length of time to purchase basic supplies. Still others feel that the work their departments do is too unique to be able to fit into standardized business processes.

The IT manager also hears people in the Purchasing department worrying about their jobs. The people who currently do the purchasing for each department are wondering if they'll still have jobs after We Shop is implemented. Even his own team is worried. Many of the employees in the IT department are so specialized in UBuy that they aren't sure they have the skills to continue working in IT after We Shop is implemented.

More distressing than the complaints he's hearing though, are the people who are silently plotting. The IT manager knows that because a number of projects have failed in the past, many people have decided that if they just wait long enough, this project will fail too. They haven't actively planned to make it fail, but they aren't planning to help it succeed either.

After a few days of hearing these conversations, the IT manager sits down to make a plan. He isn't worried about the technical aspects of implementing We Shop. He knows his team has the skills necessary to deploy the system. The people it's being deployed to are another matter. He is very concerned about whether they will be willing and able to make We Shop a success. He knows that even if his team implements the system perfectly, if nobody at Acme Corporation uses it, the project will be considered a failure. With this in mind, the IT manager decides it's time to create a Change Management plan.

Exercise – 20/20 hindsight

Think about a time when your organization faced a situation similar to the one described in the case study. How did the leadership and/or team implementing the change address the people's challenges? List three actions they took to address these challenges. For each action, evaluate how successful it was in overcoming the challenge and helping people adopt the change.

  • Action 1: _______________________________________________________________

    • Evaluation of success: ______________________________________________

    • Reason for success/failure: __________________________________________

  • Action 2: _______________________________________________________________

    • Evaluation of success: ______________________________________________

    • Reason for success/failure: __________________________________________

  • Action 3: _______________________________________________________________

    • Evaluation of success: ______________________________________________

    • Reason for success/failure: __________________________________________

Getting started

You know how to use this book. You've taken the time either to think about your current project or to read the case study. You have reflected on past change in your organization and what activities helped it to succeed. Now, it's time to begin learning about Change Management. By the time you finish this book, you'll have the beginning of a Change Management plan in hand and will be ready to share Change Management concepts and activities with others in your organization.

So, let's get started!

What this book covers

Chapter 1, What is Change Management?, provides a brief overview of Change Management, including a description of the Five Pillars of Change.

Chapter 2, Establishing the Framework for Change, covers three main topics: Change Management frameworks, integrating Change Management with other teams, and organization design.

Chapter 3, Building Sponsorship for the Change, explains how to increase support of the project amongst Executive Sponsors, Change Agents, and Super Users.

Chapter 4, Managing Your Stakeholders, helps you identify and support the key stakeholders for your change.

Chapter 5, Communicating the Change, walks you step by step through building a communication plan about the change.

Chapter 6, Using Training to Prepare Your Stakeholders, gives you the tools to begin creating a strategy for training people on the change.

Chapter 7, Ready, Set, Change, summarizes the key points of the book.

Who this book is for

Although the case study in this book focuses on an IT change, the concepts and templates in the following chapters apply to any kind of organizational change. Whether you're an IT manager, HR manager, or a new Change Manager learning the ropes, this book is for you.


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