Change Management: The CIO’s Roadmap

A successful, large-scale technology implementation, such as an Enterprise Performance Management or Business Intelligence rollout, has the potential to fundamentally alter the ways in which your organization conducts business, how decisions are made, and how people work. The success of any new implementation relies upon the right balance of business and technology. Effective change management is one of the critical — and most often overlooked — components of every new implementation.

Successful change management requires equal attention to these four components:

  • Process

  • Technology

  • People

  • Corporate culture

By including a careful consideration of process, technology, people and culture in every new implementation, you can ensure that all stakeholders — from your C-level executives to your end-users — are equipped to maximize your new solution.

Unfortunately, the mistake that many organizations make is that they approach such changes in the context of system upgrades and departmental solutions, with the idea that this is how to achieve their stated goals. Most organizations overlook the fact that any new technology implementation represents an opportunity to review, improve and/or streamline the underlying processes.

With every implementation, the criteria and goals are unique to each organization, but we can identify some very broad, basic commonalities for implementing any change. These usually involve finding ways to improve efficiency while reducing the effort required to complete certain tasks.

Sounds simple, right? Guess again.

The best approach to any technology implementation begins by evaluating how to improve current ways of doing business. You can’t manage what you can’t measure, so understanding which elements you want to manage, and how you want to manage them, is critical.

Let’s use the finance world as an example. Stakeholders in this arena are keenly interested in the quality of budgets and forecasts, accurate reporting, and optimized costs. Technology improvements can offer tools to deliver quality, accuracy, and reduced costs, but technology can’t govern the people responsible for the quality and accuracy of the data and reporting.

A successful change management initiative relies upon the right balance of business and technology. The desire for change is most often driven by business needs, and IT is involved in defining the goals to make sure the proposed solution is feasible, supportable and scalable. If business needs and supporting technology are not aligned, the organization ends up with siloed information and mismatched goals.

For example, let’s say one of the goals of your change initiative is to reduce your company’s order-close cycle from seven days to three days. Achieving this will probably require streamlining, upgrading and/or improving the technology being used. But that’s only part of the equation. To determine the best way to achieve this goal, your organization will need to review the process, as well as the technology, to see how both can be improved simultaneously. In order to do this, the CFO and CIO need to work hand-in-hand to eliminate silos between the business units and IT.

In any change management initiative, the CIO must understand the "what," "why" and "how" of the information that the business units need. This requires stepping out of the safety zone of technology and asking these eight questions of your business users:

  1. Where do the data come from?

  2. What is the timeframe for information delivery?

  3. How does the information need to be delivered–e.g., via Web, static reports, or spreadsheets?

  4. What are people doing with the information?

  5. Who has access to what information when? For example, are there periods when data is available to a broader audience and other times, such as blackout periods, when it is restricted to a smaller group?

  6. Do the users need to be involved in the process?

  7. Are they adding value to the process?

  8. Can the process be streamlined by bypassing select people and delivering information directly to the individual who needs it?

By asking these questions, you can establish a roadmap to achieve the goals of the change initiative. The answers to the questions above will help you determine what investments are required, as well as what process changes are needed. You’ll also understand how these factors redefine what people do and how they contribute to the process. Once you have a complete picture of the organization landscape, you can create a new vision for how technology, process, and people can work together to achieve project goals, and how your company’s culture can adapt accordingly.

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