Organizational Change Management for Information Projects
I had the opportunity to present my “Organizational Change Management: Solving the Hard Soft Issues” to the Data Warehousing Institute (www.tdwi.org) audience last week in Chicago. It will be taught again at TDWI Boston on July 23.
Organizational Change Management (OCM) strategy provides a road map of transformational change activities to include in any project or program. Information management projects (data warehousing, master data management, business intelligence, analytics, big data, etc.) actually do impose tremendous change upon any organization, large or small.
Some of the biggest OCM challenges are getting people to actually use our product – and use it in a good way, getting people to contribute data, utilize more and different data in decision making and utilize new processes for data generation and distribution. These are not insignificant in our projects. The failure cause of most failed projects is not technology. The causes are changing mindsets and attitudes, corporate culture change, underestimating complexity and the lack of commitment of higher management. And these are hard for many technical personnel to take care of.
I showed that 41% of projects are considered successful. That leaves new projects much needing to face the challenge of OCM, which is highly correlated to project success.
A risk that slows down and hinders implementation is everyone thinking that change management happens elsewhere in the organization. I challenge project leadership to take it upon themselves to deliver the product and deliver the change. This responsibility can, and should, be disseminated throughout the organization to others who share the passion for the project and understand the need for OCM. At some level, we call these advocates ‘change masters’.
I gave a rule of thumb that appx. 10% of personnel effort should be allocated for OCM activities. This could include specific roles for communications, training, and organizational alignment as appropriate. Otherwise, it falls back to the project leader, a good reason to distribute the OCM responsibilities.
In terms of tasks to add to the project plans or backlogs, the program focuses on a few key areas. One of them is managing leaders. Organization leaders must be aware of most of these information projects and must have high regard for them. This is similar to another task given, which is ‘managing stakeholders’. Stakeholders are all project constituents – not just executives. They include users, management, information technology and everyone affected by the project.
OCM may include an update of job roles, responsibilities and incentive programs. The time to begin to tackle these is early in the program. They will take some time – time you don’t have once you put your project in production and expect it to be used appropriately.
Training is also a large part of OCM. The training platform, logistics, invitations, policies, feedback forms, etc. need to be developed. There may be several groups that need specific training.
General communications is another task area of OCM. We want more ‘demand’ for our product than supply. We want to be in a state of a bit of tension and we may have to create it. Once there’s no more demand for your work product in the organization, you’re not producing well and that’s not good for anyone involved.
Consider adding OCM skills, awareness, responsibilities and tasks to your project. It is highly correlated to project success and will need to be done – the relatively easy way or the hard way.