As part of our recent interviews with tool implementation experts, we had a discussion with Karen Ferris about how a team’s capacity for change impacts the success of even the best planned IT change.
It is frustratingly common for changes that seem to have had every feasible step taken to ensure success, fail to deliver the desired benefits. When you are confident that all the technology aspects of the change have been explored, tested and delivered without issue, then it is more than likely that the problem can be found in the way the change has been presented, socialized and accepted by the people in the organization.
More than technology
Change is not just about technology. It’s about people, process and technology. People come first in this list for good reason as the people factor cannot be underestimated. Karen says, “I find that tech projects tend to be led as tech projects, but it is all about people and process. The technology is just supporting that.”
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Factors to consider
As Karen says, one consideration that is often overlooked when planning change is the organization’s capacity for change. This can be impacted by a number of factors:
- What other changes are happing in the organization at the same time
- A history of failed change
- A climate of constant change
- A workforce that is stretched to capacity by ‘business as usual’ (BAU)
Before introducing a new change to a business experiencing these issues, strategies to mitigate these will need to be enacted. Expecting change to be successful in the face of these, and other factors, will put stress on the organization. However, when these factors exist, it does not mean the change will fail. It just means you need to be mindful of the impact these factors will have on the organization’s capacity for change.
Timing is critical
Consider the timing of your change in relation to other events that may impact negatively on the ability of your team to accept and adapt to a new way of working. For example, it may be unwise to schedule a change around school holidays or other events that may see groups of your team wanting to take time off.
If BAU is consuming all available time, you will need to consider hiring additional resource to support the change, and it may also be sensible to extend the timeframe for your change to ease some pressure.
Not just communication
Too often, managing change is seen as being all about communication and nothing else. A good communication plan is critical to ensure success, but on its own, it will not guarantee a change project’s success.
Karen stresses that organizations need to understand the ‘why,’ and the messages around the ‘why’ need to come from someone senior in the organization such as the CIO. Individual managers also need to explain the ‘what this means to me’ to members of their staff. Karen notes that changes may lead to ‘workforce transition’ so managers need to communicate how this change will impact roles now and in the future.
How have you planned and carefully executed IT changes that have created a positive effect within your organisation? How have communication, timing and people played a key role with a successful adoption?