Regular change is inevitable in the ever-evolving environment of ICT. Whether it be upgrades to existing infrastructure, or the introduction of new innovative business solutions, the process will involve change, which will need to be carefully managed with your staff and stakeholders. Although most ICT departments understand the concept of change management, it is often inconsistent in its delivery. A consistent approach to change management is key to ensuring you delivery successful solutions while maintaining happy staff through the process.
We have put together 5 key tips to for the delivery of consistent and successful IT change management:
1. Consistent approach, successful outcomes - Have a change management policy
This may seem like the most obvious tip, but it is common for change management processes to be kept in the head of key ICT staff and not readily available to relevant employees. If you don’t have a documented change management policy, spend the time to write one up that is specific to ICT. As part of this process it is important for the key stakeholders in the organisation to be involved. Once written up, ensure it is stored in an easily accessible location, and is read and understood by all parties responsible for delivering changes in your ICT environment.
2. Communication is key - Select the most effective method of communication
Although it is common to default to email as the quickest and easiest form of communication, it is not always the best method. The key thing to consider here is not what is best for you, but what is the most effective way to get the information across to all your staff. It is not uncommon for a change management process to be followed perfectly, but still fail to reduce the number of headaches. Staff may have dismissed an email from ICT as something that is not relevant to them, and have filed it away without taking in the information. Take some time to consider whether email is best way to get the information across, or whether platforms such as Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams or the Company Intranet might be more appropriate to either compliment, or replace email for change management communication.
3. Risk is real - Help stakeholders understand the risks
When it comes to the risk associated with change, don’t bury your head in the sand. Change comes with risk, and it is important to acknowledge and plan for risk mitigation. Careful planning is obviously the key to risk mitigation but it is also important for the key stakeholders to understand what the risks are, and that they are real. Ensure that the risks are communicated to the stakeholders prior to, and independently of the communication to the broader group. Also make sure details of the key risks are included in your communication to the broader group.
4. Expect the unexpected - Have a roll back plan
They second key point to risk mitigation is to have a roll back plan. In a perfect world change implementation would always go according to the plan, but the reality is despite careful planning, unexpected issues often arise. So plan for the ‘unknown’ with a roll back plan.
Ideally a rollback plan involves reversing the steps you have taken to implement the change, but this is not always possible. Sometimes you will need to think outside the box in your planning. Think about the impacts that your change will have on the business if things go wrong and work out how you can deal with this as part of your plan.
Where ‘roll back’ is difficult (or impossible), ensure you have included a buffer in your outage window to deal with unexpected issues.
5. Make no assumptions – not everyone thinks like you
Albeit a very general tip, it is important to consider other points of views throughout the whole change management process. Examples of where this might be relevant include:
- Impact Assessment – what you deem to be low impact, might have a high impact on other areas of your business (that you may not necessarily know about). Take time to understand how changes may affect the different areas of your business.
- Change Details – be sure to communicate the details of the change a way that is easy for people with a very basic understanding of ICT to understand. Don’t assume a certain level of knowledge when communicating details or instructions to staff.
- 3rd Party Providers – Although you may assume any 3rd party partners have a change management policy, you may find that it is different to yours, or, they don’t have one at all. Ensure you have this discussion with any ICT partners. If you are implementing a new ICT Change Management Policy, get you’re partners involved and ensure everyone is rowing the boat the same way.
Change is one of the necessary but potentially challenging processes that ICT departments must go through on a regular basis. If you take the time to ensure changes are planned, communicated and the risks mitigated, you will give yourself the best chance to deliver successful outcomes with happy stakeholders. We hope these tips will help you with your approach to change management.
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