Laying a Foundation for IT Change
This blog is the second in our three-part series on “Successful IT Change Management.” In our last blog, we discussed resistance to change. This time, we’ll introduce practical ways to address and overcome it, and foster a culture in which the implementation and acceptance of change proceed more easily and effectively.
In today’s business environment, you’re either changing or dying. As the digital revolution continues its breakneck pace, the ability to manage change effectively can be a substantial and sustainable driver of strategic advantage. That ability lies to a large extent in the culture of your organization—consensus and momentum can’t be imposed on a project from the top down, but must be cultivated at every level through clear planning and communication between IT and the business.
First, a matter of terminology. We’re actually talking about two similar and related concepts here: the management of change in organizations, and the formal process of ITSM Change Management. The connection between the two is straightforward—you’re trying to manage your organization to be more accepting of change, in order to enable a more consistent and robust approach to the ITSM Change Management process. Don’t overthink it, but do try to keep this distinction in mind.
Understand the user’s perspective
Often, it’s only with hindsight that we truly understand the importance and power of change; not many people or organizations welcome change as a matter of course. With good planning, through, you can help employees understand the inevitability of change—in fact, they’re probably already aware of it—and shift their focus from fear to excitement about the opportunity for new growth. That will bring your business much closer to a quality IT Change Management strategy.
Make friends at the top
Senior leadership can play a powerful role in sponsoring and advocating change—getting them on board can make employees more likely to follow along. Each leader in your organization needs to talk about the power and value of IT Change Management with the enthusiasm of a believer and the power of a teacher. This means that word can’t get out in small doses. You must front-load the time and energy it takes to enact change management. If you haven’t already created a culture of change in your organization, now is the time to start doing so.
Keep IT in the loop
Vision matters—a lot. Be clear and explicit about how adopting a more rigorous approach to IT Change Management will benefit both IT team members and the organization as a whole. Give examples of the performance measures you intend to track, such as change success rate, incident volume by service, and so on. Then explain what the team’s role will be in helping to move those KPIs in a favorable direction. This will give both a strong sense of practicality to the project and an invitation to be an active participant in the overall goal of the project. In fact, involving all stakeholders in the design of your new IT Change Management processes can make a world of difference, showing that you value their expertise and trust them to be a part of the process.
Start with a pilot project
A small group of early adopters can be highly useful for leading the transition to a more thorough approach to IT Change Management, acting as both a steering committee of stakeholders and a resource group. In addition to helping to publicize and showcase the initiative, a pilot IT Change Management project can help you uncover stumbling blocks and key questions before you roll your new process out to the broader team. Make sure that they have all the support they need—you want to make sure they succeed as well as possible!
Keep it simple
No matter how deep you’re going to go with IT Change Management best practices, it’s crucial to keep processes simple and clear. Even automated processes should be clearly documented in alternative forms, from written guidelines to flow charts. Your IT staff, Change managers, and requestors must clearly understand how to get help when they need it. The help they receive must be rapid, positive, and focused on making sure they understand the reason and impact Change Management will have on the entire business.
These guiding principles can help you build a culture of communication and acceptance around change—and prepare your organization for the successful adoption of IT Change Management processes. The implementation of these processes will be the topic of our next blog.