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CIO Speak

Change Management / Transformation Management

From technical perspective, the IT implementation is fast becoming commoditized. India boasts of very good IT vendors who have matured processes for technology implementation that increase the success rate. Despite this, the IT initiatives fail to take-off in many organizations. The problem is generally not related to the technology deployment; it is likely to be in the areas of adoption by the users.

In order for IT initiatives to deliver intended business results, often the end-users need to change the way they function. Human being resists a change in whichever form it may be. Thus this kind of change will obviously get resisted. Unless we manage this transformation carefully, the resistance at times may pull the plug for IT initiative. Transformation management is an art as well as science. Its modalities and methodologies differ from organization to organization and from culture to culture. However fundamentally, the successful transformation management is built on three pillars namely Involvement, Communication and Education; one can call it ICE for transformation management.

Involvement: If we need to transform someone then it is necessary that we involve him in the process. Transformations thru thrust are more likely to fail. There are many ways to involve stakeholders in the IT deployment. It is best when they are involved right from the state of selecting the IT solution platform, so that they have ownership starting at that stage itself. There are different ways of involvement such as steering committee participation by the senior levels of users, participation in the requirement gathering and process mapping stages, involvement in testing, involvement of select group of users to train other users etc. The motto is to take as many stake-holders as possible with us, throughout the journey of IT solution deployment.

Communication: It is said that 90% problems of the world are related to communication and same is true for transformation management process as well! Frequent communication with the stakeholders of is very effective tool in transformation management. It generally starts with Top Management of the organization communicating regarding the importance of the said IT initiative and its strategic fitment with the business goals. Engagement starts from there. The IT initiative management needs to frequently communicate the progress of the initiative, the challenges faced , the risks & their mitigation etc. One then feels a part of the entire process and the resistance starts to dilute.

There are multiple tools available for communication and there is a scope for continuous innovation in this area. No communication will ever be called "excess". Communication should also be two ways. In the era of web 2.0, face-book etc. the days of one-way communication are over. IT initiative management team need to provide for platform wherein the stakeholders can communicate with the project team any time giving their suggestions, sharing their concerns etc. and the said communication needs to be very effectively addressed. Internal portal, user meets, informal channels of communication etc. are very effective to make the same happen.

Education: IT initiatives are generally resisted since there are many misconceptions associated with it. For that matter any change gets resisted and hence IT initiative is no different. For example, people feel that IT tools are very complex to use or that IT tools have many bugs and they make life much more difficult. Such myths can be addressed thru effective education and training. The more training gets imparted, the more practice done by the end user, the better it is to remove the fear about IT. Education and training can never be completed in one go. After initial training, one needs to go for retraining even 3-4 times over 6 – 8 months for the IT solution to get properly understood. For effective deployment of any IT initiative, it's a must to have that high magnitude of education as well as training. When someone says that my training expenditure for a certain imitative is within budget, one can be reasonably certain that the initiative may go thru tough waters over a period!

In nutshell, making IT initiative a business success is more dependent on handling soft-issues than the technologies, since the later has become more matured and more predictable. CIOs and their teams need to transform themselves first in order to appreciate the importance of transformation management and then give due time share and mind-share to transformation management in order to achieve sustained success of their initiative.

With Regards

Satish Pendse
Highbar Technologies Limited

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