Written By: Pamela Erskine
Many IT organizations are changing how they operate in an effort to transform into a division that is business oriented. They are attempting to strengthen existing services, strategically invest in new technology, and provide support in a manner that is aligned with the expectations of the business. All of these steps are important if the IT organization is going to optimize costs and support the changing strategies of the business.
The challenges are vast but perhaps the most challenging aspect relates to the people involved in the changes. After all, IT service management is all about people supported by processes and technology. People are key to success with any transformation initiative. Transformation requires them to engage by providing and sharing knowledge, supporting new processes and technology, and teaming with other areas. It requires them to learn, grow, and change. It requires them to step out of their comfort zone and try something different.
Traditionally, the ‘people’ aspect of transformation is managed with a communication plan and possibly some training. Merely sending emails about transformation or conducting a few hours of training will not achieve the desired outcome. To recognize success, traditional planning must be enhanced to include fostering engagement of the team and creating a desire to participate in the transformation initiative.
How do you create a desire to participate?
· Create a compelling vision. Describe the required outcomes using an example they understand. The staff need to connect with the vision on an emotional level. Consider providing opportunities for the staff to provide feedback on the vision and associated strategies. Allowing input will help to foster buy in.
· Develop a message about the cost of doing nothing. Ensure the staff understand why the transformation must occur. Link the changes to business strategies and objectives. What happens if the organization doesn’t make these changes? Prepare leaders to have conversations with their team about potential outcomes.
· Engage the staff in determining how to achieve the vision. To ensure a solid plan is developed, include the people that are actually doing the work. It is important they are involved. They have experience and often, they can provide input that is crucial to success.
· Invest in training for all levels of the organization. The entire organization may need to complete some foundational level best practices training to ensure everyone is speaking a common language. All levels of management need to be prepared to effectively support their team members. Staff need more than just an email about a new process. They need the ability to operationalize the process which requires a thorough understanding of the process, procedures, tasks, and systems.
· Create documentation that the staff can access when needed. Training is important but over 80% of training is forgotten within 3 days if it is not used. The staff require a way of accessing information as needed so they an be successful.
· Routinely review and publicize metrics throughout the transformation initiative and beyond. When the metrics reflect positive change, thank the team. When there are challenges, express concern but engage the team in determining the right course of action.
· Reinforce the required behavior changes. Update job descriptions, performance objectives, incentive programs, and policies. Ensure the right behaviors are incentivized. Find ways to publicly reward employees throughout the project.
Success with any transformation initiative requires engaged employees that are open to making a change. Considering that 70% of IT projects fail due to issues relating to people, the additional time required to plan for the “people” aspect of transformation is probably the best investment the IT organization will make this year.