We live in a world of constant change. To quote Heraclitus of Ephesus, “The only constant in life is change.” We experienced this last year and continue to do so today. We wrote about it on our blog in The year of the pandemic – the change management workshop article.

Intuition tells us what change is. We know it’s an inseparable part of life. Besides, although we feel subconscious resistance to change, we are also aware that it’s not only a risk but, above all, an opportunity.

Change in IT project – what is it?

What about change in IT projects? To better understand the issue, it’s worth looking at the ITIL® definition, according to which a change is “the addition, modification or removal of any authorized, planned, or supported service or service component that could have an effect on IT services.”[KK1]

Change in an IT project may involve one or more aspects:

  • Architecture
  • Processes
  • Tools
  • Metrics
  • Documentation
  • IT services area
  • Information systems configuration area

Changes in IT projects can be very extensive, their implementation – stretched over time, and the risks very high. What’s more, IT projects essence is high variability resulting from modern technology development dynamics. When we add to this the changes introduced as part of the IT system development in the company, we see even more clearly how many people are affected by these changes and how strongly these changes affect their daily work at various levels. Hence the need to introduce a change management process.

We should keep in mind that there is always a large percentage of people who are reluctant to make any changes. It’s also an important guideline for those who are behind the changes and decide on their implementation. While focusing on the technical and performance aspects of IT project changes, one must not overlook the human side; one must always keep in mind the comfort and needs of people affected by the change.

 

The change management process in an IT project – why is it so important and what is it all about?

Let’s start with ITIL’s definition, “The Change Management process is designed to help control the life cycle of strategic, tactical, and operational changes to IT services through standardized procedures.”

Regarding the purpose of introducing a change management process in IT projects, I want to use the ITIL’s framework definition, “The goal of Change Management is to establish standard procedures for managing change requests in an agile and efficient manner in an effort to drastically minimize the risk and impact a change can have on business operations.”

To summarize, the goal of implementing such a process is to mitigate risks to an organization’s IT services and business processes, as well as to ensure that the benefits of the change itself are maximized.

Implementing changes always involves risk. It is worth pointing out that the purpose of such a defined change management process in the IT project is not to eliminate all the risk but to mitigate and control it better. The same applies to the change’s impact on the IT services or business processes functioning. The introduction of a change management process does not make the organization completely unaffected by the change, but it allows reducing the negative impact on services and processes to an acceptable minimum.

Many companies fail to implement an effective change management process – some due to incomplete understanding of the issue; others only partially implement such a process; still others fail to communicate.

 

Communication and its role in the change management process

It should be remembered that, regardless of such factors as technical sophistication of change management tools and the budget size, the entire process’s success is largely determined by the organization’s/project’s preparation for the change. Behind this preparation is properly planned and executed communication. Effective communication in the change management process should meet two requirements: not only to inform but also to involve in the change process.

Effective communication takes the recipient through four stages of change:

  • Awareness
  • Understanding
  • Acceptance
  • Commitment

Even everyday message will fail if it is incomprehensible and difficult to accept; the message will not result in commitment of those directly affected by the change. Conversely, even perfectly structured messages will fail if they are not delivered with sufficient frequency. As they say, it’s not always what you say but how you say it ☺

Although it’s difficult to overestimate the communication role, one should remember one more thing. Even a perfectly devised information campaign cannot replace the manager’s involvement in change management. I highly value the participation of their representatives, especially top management, in such activities. The fact that all important information regarding the company’s Covid-19 situation was regularly communicated at Craftware from the management level had a positive impact on my sense of security and comfort during this difficult time.

Why is this aspect so important? It’s all about authority. If the benefits that the change brings are communicated from the board or senior management level, the manager’s authority supports the message. Employees then know that the implemented change is in line with the company’s strategy and/or values, and it is easier for them to follow the change.

Author

  • Katarzyna Sharman
  • Business-System Analyst
  • Involved with analytics for over a decade, with Craftware for three years. Oriented on relationships, both with the customer and within the development team. Privately a passionate traveler and non-fiction writer.

Editorial study
Anna Sawicka
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