The impact of IT changes, caused by disruptive technology within your organisation, are interpreted differently in the various parts of your organizations. Every group of users is looking from its own perspective and interest towards a change within IT. Your users don’t care about IT infrastructure. They just need it to work so they can do what they want, at any given time on every device. The Business teams are looking for a quick response to their (new) IT demands with fast leadtimes of the transformation. They need new technologies to explore the full possibilities of new markets and opportunities, or respond to (new) competition. Your IT department has to satisfy all groups, including themselves, without compromising their current performance, security and quality standards. And with an increasing pace, IT departments have to deliver more, faster, better and without extra costs.

So, here you have a disruptive technology, users, different business teams, executives and their requirements and use cases. We have decades of experience and knowledge in how to manage this in an IT project. For example, perform an assessment, create a design, have it validated and start your building, testing and implementing activities. And as long as the new technology is delivered within time, money and quality, you performed a good job.

However, I discovered a gap to breach. The part about people in these projects. People do want to change. However, they do not want to be forced to change. Organizations ignoring the importance of the human aspect within an IT Transformation, might end up with a piece of new technology which is only partly correct or even wrongly used.

The new technology is not adopted by command, nor by hanging out some posters, enabling an intranet site or sending newsletters and emails. When we talk about IT Transformations, we talk about dealing with people. All with different interests, demands and even emotions. It's all about: "But we have always worked like this….", "What's in it for me?", "Self-service? You mean less service!", "Will my job still be there after this project?", "I’m always the last to hear about …. ". So, if you want your IT Transformation to be sustainable and therefore successful in the long term, the focus on the human part is needed. Some areas to take into account:

  • Pay attention to culture. What culture is present now, and what culture suits the change / the desired outcome?
  • Role model behaviour and leadership. This is necessary for the culture change and the commitment for a change.
  • Build on trust and openness, so that any resistance can be discussed.
  • Assessment on the talent and knowledge of the staff. What are the people good at? What is the level of knowledge? Are people in the right position?
  • Listen to employees and managers on what they have to say about the IT Transformation.

Because an IT Transformation is not only about the new technology, but also about the people, you need to create a bigger plan. A plan which contains a broader vision why the transformation is needed. Relate the core values of the organization, to the added values of your change. Communicate key elements of the transformation, the use cases which are an improvement for the organization and what will be delivered in the end. How should you plan an IT transformation with the same focus on both technique AND people? That is the question managers need to answer, if they want to complete their IT Transformation successfully. But where to start? With many IT and consultancy suppliers performing a job on completing their project from only a technical point of view?

This is exactly why I like to start an IT Transformation with a preparation phase. Mind you, this is long before the actual technical implementation of the project will take place. In this phase I have three objectives in mind:

  1. Find out what the real trigger is behind the (proposed) idea or IT Transformation. Get to know the Why this new technology is so much wanted. Get to know the real need for changing the current IT environment.
  2. Define the stakeholders. Who are the sponsors, influencers, opponents and so on.
  3. Create a guiding coalition, assemble a group of people within the organization with the power and energy to lead and support a collaborative change effort. Involvement of the organization's executive is needed.

The need for a guiding coalition is perfectly explained by J. Kotter. His second step, of his eight-step model, written down in his world famous book "Leading Change", is about the creation of an guiding coalition. They are there to inspire others on why we have to change the IT infrastructure and they understand the impact on Technology AND people. This group, normally 2-4 persons, guides your IT Transformation through the process and is your steady rock in difficult times, and can and will make decisions with the  original vision in mind. The success of the IT Transformation effort largely depends on the quality of the guiding coalition and the trust and attention it gets from executive level.

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Paul Legierse Technologist ITTS

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