A CIO’s guide to change management


We all know that one colleague whose enthusiasm for the latest bit of technology is as evangelical as it is unceasing (well, until the next thing comes along). Everyone in the company knows about their passion (and for that reason will make sure they aren’t in the break room at the same time as the besotted one).

In fact, you may even be that colleague. Or more importantly, you can see beyond its novelty and understand exactly what the value of an adoption will mean for your organisation. And unlike your colleague, you are actually in a position to implement it.

But before you go turning the company upside down with a whole new system, you need to truly understand what the change means, and not just to the current technology set-up. In order for a tech change to be truly transformative and meaningful, you need to approach the project not as a tech set-up, but as a business management project.

Why do change initiatives fail?

In fact it is suggested by an IBM study that over 40% of IT projects fail in that they didn’t meet ‘schedule, budget and quality goals.’

Part of this failure is attributed to a perceived resistance to change. Not just to the people whom it could affect, but an entrenched top-down wariness to the differences change could bring.

In order to combat this, you need a well-structured change strategy that accounts for every level of the implementation, including how the change could affect the business.

Change management

A great way to implement lasting and positive change is to employ a method called change management. Change management is described as:

‘a structured approach for ensuring that changes are thoroughly and smoothly implemented, and that the lasting benefits of change are achieved.’

Establish who will be affected by the change

But the focus just isn’t on the operations, it’s on all the people who could be affected by the change and how those spearheading the change can move them from their current situation to the new one. This isn’t just work colleagues, it’s anyone you’re dealing with. It could be the public, government departments, even family members. Write down everyone you think could be affected by the change.

How will they be affected by the change?

When you need to start thinking about how the change will affect their lives, a great way to do this is to find the time to sit down and ask them questions such as:

  • How will they benefit from the project? (emotionally, financially)
  • What do they need from you?
  • What are their relationships like with other people in the business?
  • What are the concerns they have about the project?
  • How will they be using the new software in their role?
  • What are some of the frustrations of their current role?
  • How could the change fix their frustrations?
  • How could new software disrupt their role?

Contrary to popular belief, most people will be more than happy to discuss their point of view. Not only will this exercise allow you to gain insight into how to implement your project, but engaging your colleagues at the early stages is demonstrating that you value their opinion and trust them. This contributes to creating an open and transparent working culture, which can be important in making change less scary and more positive.

Find your champions

After you’ve had a chat to your colleagues, you will have a clear idea of how they feel about the project. At this point, you need to start thinking about who could be influential in herding the change through and who might present the most objections.

One of the biggest problems change initiatives encounter is that the senior management team are not presenting a united front. In order to make meaningful lasting change it is vital that the senior team (led by the CEO) get together and ensure that they are keeping their teams up-to-date with the latest developments and empowering them to come up with solutions. Actively getting people to be involved means that they will:

  • Understand what change means for them
  • Feel proud that they had a hand in implementing the change
  • Are more likely to embrace change initiatives in the future

The leadership team needs to understand that it’s not enough to communicate the change, you need to engage. The difference between the two terms may feel pedantic, but the distinction is important. Communicating is merely passing on information, whereas engaging is actively listening to the needs of your team and including them in the process.

Being honest and collaborative with your organisation engenders trust and goodwill. If people can see positives (and know that there is a solid plan to mitigate the pitfalls) then they will be more open to embracing this project and future changes.

Embracing change

Implementing change management strategies won’t just be the difference between a successful project and one that fails, great management will also ensure that colleagues will feel more open to other changes in the company. If change is adopted thoughtfully and carefully, it can completely lead to a more agile, responsive, transparent and dynamic company culture.

Would you like more information on how technology can change your organisation. Then you need the 2016 CeBIT Australia CIO Summary Report. Download today!

CeBIT Australia CIO Summary Report