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Lessons Learned in a Change Management Implementation

In 2017, Georgia Tech adopted and implemented ITSM change management. Our goal, like so many other organizations, was to standardize methods and procedures, promptly handle changes, accurately assess risk, maximize service value and availability, and reduce incidents and disruption of service to our stakeholders. The implementation was admittedly challenging at times. Adopting change management means changing process and culture. That combination can seem impossible, but it can be done.

Eighteen months later we are still learning and maturing but now have a robust process that is truly providing value to our large department and the entire institution. In that time, we have learned and observed some significant lessons.

Top Down Adoption and Support Is a Must

Adoption of any new process and procedure requires a commitment from leadership and support throughout the organization. To be successful, every level and part of the organization has to commit and support the adoption. One broken link in the chain can and will cause failure. Before kicking it off, training, or trying, you must have assurance from the highest level of leadership that they will support the process and hold people accountable.

A Champion Is Needed

In addition to leadership commitment, you must have a champion. Real organizational change that involves adopting new policy and procedure needs someone to be a constant supporter and communicator for the cause. This individual needs to carry their soapbox all over the organization. After they sell it to leadership, they have to sell it to the rest of the staff. It is a message that has to be given repeatedly and often. The champion must continue to be a cheerleader after adoption to keep momentum.

Clear, Concise Communication Is Not Optional

Change requires rich, succinct communication that continually flows. Communication should come from the highest level in support and then the champion or the implementers for details. Know your audience, say what you mean, and mean what you say. Be direct and honest. If it feels like you are over communicating, you might be doing enough.

Transparency Is Critical

Being open and freely sharing the purpose, plan, and process is absolutely necessary. If an organization senses secrets, non-disclosure, or hidden agendas, the process is doomed. Be an open book. Be willing to share openly with multiple channels, and be available for questions and comments all the time.

Focus on Process, Not Tools

Technology people love tools. There is always a risk that a person, a champion, or an organization can get enamored by the tool or software and neglect to spend the time honing their process. Process and tools are two different things. While a tool can definitely ease the use and promote positive feelings about adoption, a tool without foundational policy and procedures will fail every single time.

Invest Time and Resources in Proper Training

Do not expect people to begin a new process or use a new tool without proper training. Proper training means investing in all the resources needed to give adequate access, tools, and time to learning new things. Development and design take a lot of time. Do not underestimate the time needed in that stage and borrow from training time to hit your go-live target. Complete training is an investment that will pay for itself many times over with a prepared and ready staff.

Accept that Change Is Hard

Introducing a new process is change, and change is hard. It is important to recognize going into any big adoption that it will be hard work and will require heavy lifting.

Constant Continuous Improvement Should Begin at the Start 

Adopting an attitude of continuous improvement is a necessity. Day one of the new process is an opportunity to look for improvement. Resist the urge to want to relax or rest right after implementation. Immediately begin looking for ways to develop and mature the process.

Reporting Is Critical

If you aren’t measuring it, it didn’t happen, and it doesn’t matter. Reporting is a powerful tool to show how the process is helping the organization. It sets standards and lays the foundation for goal setting to further mature and grow. That said, reporting doesn’t necessarily mean formal, traditional reports. Spend time learning what audience needs what information, and present it in a way that makes it meaningful and useful.


Vicki Rogers has more than 20 years of experience in service management, change management, and leadership development, helping organizations create service desks, implement ITIL, and insource IT. She is Senior ITSM Change Manager at Georgia Institute of Technology and is completing her doctorate in leadership and organizational development at the University of Georgia, where her research focuses on cultivating and developing women leaders in IT. She's passionate about helping organizations and systems develop and engage people, and she loves hearing and sharing stories because she believes there's always more to learn. Follow Vicki on Twitter @vickirogers.

 

 

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