Any type of organizational change requires purpose and intent. However, meeting the challenge requires more than just good planning and execution. Managing change in times when everything is constantly evolving requires companies to treat change as an enduring process that overlaps and never ends. This means, expecting change and knowing how to deal with it, should become a normal practice in the whole organization. However, change is not always an easy process. In order to have a smooth transition, follow these 5 keys for successful IT change management.
1- Communicate effectively
Without communication, attempting to make any type of change to IT infrastructure can quickly turn into a disaster. Very often, management will spend a significant amount of time planning and strategizing for the change. But not enough time is spent communicating these plans to assure everyone is on the same page. This failure to communicate leads to overlapping tasks, delays, and overall confusion.
Communication should occur at all levels from top executives to entry level employees who will ultimately be the most effected by the changes. Gathering input from all stakeholders helps the process move along much smoother. Also, communication does not stop once the change has ceased. Employees will likely require training, and it's crucial to collect feedback in regards to the actual change and the way the change process was handled as well.
2- Commit to the change
In order to create any type of sustainable change, there needs to be commitment. CIO's and other stakeholders need to be focused on the plan of action and be determined to see the change through to the end.
There is a difference between commitment and compliance. Compliance means that people are simply going along with the proposed change because it's mandatory and they may or may not have faith or belief in the new system. This can create a group of people who will do the bare minimum and will likely not give their all during the change process. In order to help increase commitment, CIO's should be prepared for resistance and allow employees to express their gripes and issues about the change. Ultimately, change should be part of a company's corporate culture.
3- Be clear
Unless the end goal has been clearly defined, internal staff may question the point of change. In general, people have difficulty working towards something that they cannot see. CIO's and the team heading the change need to be able to explain:
- What is wrong with the current system
- Why the proposed change is necessary
- How the change will affect them
Until those points are defined, change will meet significant resistance. Explaining the "idea" is not sufficient enough. Take the focus away from the "what" and place more importance on explaining the "why" of the change. Clarity will extend beyond explanations as well. Make sure that all possible bottle necks are addressed and put teams in place to handle them when they arise. This attention to detail and strategizing will reduce the level of risk involved with the change.
4- Assemble a strong team
Making IT changes requires a lot of time and effort. Generally a large portion (if not all) of employees will be affected. With a solid team in place, you can exercise control over every change. An IT change management team will consist of:
- A change leader- Higher level sponsors of the change. Ensures that the proper personnel is in place and looks at the overall picture of the change.
- Change agents- The people that will be involved in the planning and strategizing of the change. They have to ensure that all people involved in the change are working towards the end goal and that there is synergy.
- Change advocates- Those who have significant influence on employees. They can help boost morale and make sure the change happens more efficiently.
5- Set metrics
To help gauge how well the change process is going and how effective the new change is, setting meaningful metrics is very important. Because change will be constant, being able to measure and compare change techniques will ultimately provide companies with the best mix and approach to future changes. When companies are able to show employees that the change had a positive impact, it becomes easier to implement change in the future and also creates a sense of pride for all the employees involved in the process.