Anyone in the IT space who has had to manage the introduction of a new technology into the enterprise understands the nightmare that rolling out a new service can be. However, despite the headaches involved, most organizations understand the need to continually upgrade their IT infrastructure and solutions in order to support their operations and remain competitive.
The implementation of technologies that represent a paradigm shift (i.e. client server, distributed computing, network appliances, internet, service oriented architecture, cloud computing, and many to come) can be even more controversial. However, history has taught us that companies that fail to embrace advancement in technology are lagging behind their competitors (or worst!).
The challenges in adopting a new technology can be categorized into three groups:
Tools: The difficulty of integrating the new technology into the existing infrastructure
Processes: Resistance to any changes to the established workflows
People: Changes in team members’ roles and responsibilities.
By carefully analyzing the existing people, processes, and tools, and by understanding the benefits of the new technology, leaders in the organization can develop a balanced path to success that will ensure a smooth transition and successful adoption of the new technology.
Developing and executing on the path to success requires focus on Change Management . Without it, what we often see is an ineffective rollout of the new solution: either it gains very limited adoption (until it evaporates altogether), or - worse yet – it is forced into outdated workflows, not allowing for the realization of the ROI and the real benefits that the new technology provides.
How to start?
Consider the Top 10 Do’s for Managing Change:
Recruit new technology champions
Create a vision and evangelize it
Document bottlenecks and areas for improvement
Clearly articulate how the new technology will address the current situation
Develop success criteria
Develop path to success
Recruit change agents
Create small successes and recognize people who embraces the new technology
Make difficult decisions
Persist and persevere
1Recruit New Technology Champions
It is important to identify who are the ‘technology enthusiasts’ and who are the ‘traditionalists’ in your organization. The traditionalists tend to be risk adverse and they tend to excel in operational-type environment. The new technology enthusiasts tend to be interested in progress and excel in development-type environment.
The two perspectives are equally important to the successful adoption of the new technology. You must consider the impact of the new technology on the existing business operations and plan the transition accordingly.
First, recruit the technology enthusiasts - they will help create the vision. In addition, place the necessary procedures to ensure that operational perspectives from the ‘traditionalists’ will be incorporated in the process.
2Create a Vision and Evangelize It
It is important to create a vision that is coherent and realistic. An attainable vision goes a long way in unifying the various groups in the organization. Without such vision, confusions will emerge as many people may struggle to understand how their current work style will be affected. This confusions may breed fear, which will create resistances.
When developing a vision, you must establish a Stakeholders team consisting of leaders from various groups that are affected by the new technology. This team ensures that all perspectives are analyzed and understood.
A balanced composition of technologist enthusiasts and traditionalists will facilitate the development of believable and attainable vision. Next, the vision must be clearly articulated to the rest of the organizations. It will take several meetings and seminars to address all questions and doubts. A few dedicated evangelists are required to ensure that the vision is clearly communicated and understood.
3Document Bottlenecks and Areas for Improvement
The Stakeholders team must analyze the existing people, processes, and tools and document the current workflows. Through reviewing the existing workflows, roles and responsibilities and chain tool, the team can quickly identify the bottlenecks and the areas for improvement.
Through an iterative process, the team will agree and prioritize the bottlenecks and the areas for improvement. The resulting data from this workflow analysis must be documented clearly as these are the reasons and drivers for the organization to be adopting a new technology.
4Clearly Articulate How the New Technology Will Address the Current Situation
Once the Stakeholders team agrees on the prioritized list of bottlenecks to address, it needs to define:
The new workflows
The new roles and responsibilities of the people involved in them
And how these workflows and responsibilities would utilize the new technology:
For each step/area in the workflows, the team must define the benefits of the new technology, the prerequisites to ensure successful deployment and adoption, and the new changes in responsibilities . The clarity on the changes is paramount to preventing the confusions and fears among the people affected.
5Develop Success Criteria
Once the benefits can be articulated clearly, improvement targets and success criteria must be called out so progress can be measured. Confirmed progress is a great motivator for the team to stay the course and adopt the new technology. If progress is slow, it is an indicator that adjustments need to be made. This proactive approach ensure resistance to change doesn’t spread.
6Develop Path to Success
By now, the team has not only documented the current situation with the bottlenecks and areas for improvement, but also documented the target environment with future benefits and success criteria. In short, before and after views are clearly understood. The next step is to develop path to success - the path the organization must take to move from the before to the after .
All the pre-requisites indentified in the workflow analysis must be scoped and planned. A timeline with weekly measurable deliverables should be developed to synchronize the parallel efforts performed by the different groups and functions.
7Recruit Change Agents
Often, when organizations are trying to adopt a new technology they tend to assign a successful Operational Manager or director to be in charge of the rollout initiative. At first glance, this looks like an obvious choice, but - interestingly – what we often see is that this person can also be a key factor in stalled, or failed, adoption.
Operational managers are often ‘traditionalists’ and are risk-adverse to change. They are often able to address the first few complaints about the difficulty in adopting the new solution (integration issues, resistance to changes to the established workflows or responsibilities, etc.) However, after a while, if resistance remains, they start having doubts and often go back to their comfort zone and usual mode of operand.
A Change Agent, on the other hand, is motivated by progress. They will persist with the path to success till progress is observed. This type of individual is a hybrid of an evangelist, a project manager, and a solution architect. Furthermore, a Change Agent would desire a different set goals for their role and compensation – along the lines of a contribution to the company’s bottom line achieved by an improvement to the business process or utilizing the new technology.
8Create Small Successes and Recognize People who Embraces the New Technology
The path to success needs to have a phased approach, with minimal efforts for creating small successes – so they are likely to face less resistance while providing a great motivation for the next steps.
Additionally, the small successes are the building blocks, the foundation assets, to realize the larger part of the vision.
People who are successful in realizing the small successes must be recognized and recruited to be the evangelists. This will fuel the excitement for adopting the new technology and alleviate the remaining fear of change. A compensation structure that includes a bonus for implementing change in a group can also be an effective incentive.
9Make Difficult Decisions
The small successes will help leaders be less apprehensive about making difficult decisions, because they can extrapolate future results based on the progress to date. Some common difficult decisions that organizations procrastinate are, for example, decommissioning outdated, convoluted tools, addressing hires who are not willing to change, or changing the organizational structure.
Bringing in outside, objective, help to navigate through these sensitive and difficult issues can be instrumental. An outside change agent can help separate the facts from the emotions and (since they are impartial in the organization) collaborate with the team to list the pros and cons of different approaches so the correct decisions can be made based on facts.
10Persist and Persevere
When the leaders in the organizations believe in the attainable vision and have the Change Agents along side with them to execute the path to success , then all you need to do is to persist and persevere throughout the transition period. Progress reports will give the necessary information to make any adjustments if required.
The road may be difficult at times, but the rewards are just around the corner! So hang in there!
Implementing a DevOps or Continuous Delivery solution can be bumpy – but pays enormous dividends in the end. You need to holistically address all aspects - people, tools and processes - to successfully adopt and utilize the benefits of CD.
Hopefully the above blueprint would help you on your path. Let us know in the Comments section how you manage change in your organization to facilitate your CD transformation journey, or check out our Professional Services if you need help or want to discuss your specific challenges.