According to author, Dan Millman, “the secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Nowhere is this wisdom more apropos than in the business world and the ever-evolving technology that drives it. Change will come to every organization and, eventually, every department. Whether you are swapping out key components of your tech stack or upgrading to new systems, it’s essential that you have a plan in place to help navigate the often bumpy road of change.
We, at Evolve IP, believe that “change” doesn’t have to be a bad word, though. Rather, change represents a horizon of new opportunities for business growth. If you’ll commit to it, streamlined change management can be the secret weapon for long-term business success.
Like many of our customers’, Evolve IP has experienced a lot of change in its 14-year history. Here’s a crash course in what we have learned about change management over the years and how to minimize disruption to business operations.
Change Management in IT
In IT, change management usually centers around tracking and managing software updates, which itself is facilitated by software. While that may sound like a chicken and egg situation, IT leaders understand that having a plan for new software implementation that allows you to manage all resources, communication, data, and more, is invaluable.
Four Key Components of Effective Change Management
A solid change management process should have four key components:
- Planning — Change management isn’t reactive or on the fly. It is carefully road mapped in advance, with meticulous research justifying and informing each task.
- Design — Change management should be artfully designed, taking into account the necessary sequence of events, and allowing margins for error or inevitable shifts in processes.
- Execution — When a new change management process is first implemented, it’s an all-hands-on-deck situation, with IT teams often working extended hours to carry out their carefully designed change management processes. While these processes may become cyclical or routine in nature over time, they still require careful attention and methodical implementation, just as they did on the first day of implementation.
- Analysis — Anyone who works in software development or management knows to expect the unexpected. Analysis checkpoints will ensure an eye is kept on what happened, is happening, and is likely to happen next, as a result of a planned change.
The Tasks of Change Management
Managing change will be essential across the entire development lifecycle. In software development, change management will include technological tasks, like tracking artifacts, including code and requirements. It’s a critical process for application development.
Tasks that typically take place in change management in software development include:
- Tracking change requests
- Bug reports
- Managing and monitoring digital assets
- Securing access and overseeing security
- Tracing changes across the lifestyle, even back to the source code
- Monitoring file and system status
- Measuring the impact of changes
- Comparing tracked changes with historical data and baselines
- Generating and analyzing reports
The goal will be to create repeatable processes for change management. Rather than it being a reinvent-the-wheel scenario, it becomes a “rinse and repeat” process your team can carry out the same way each time.
How to Support Change Management in Technology
Change management isn’t exclusive to software or tech departments. It is a common operational or organizational process, executed by all types of teams. There are some important differences, though, when you’re managing a change of a software system.
If you’re on the IT team or in charge, here are some tips to supporting successful change management:
- Create a process in the context of your business processes. Change management for your tech department or tools shouldn’t happen in a silo. Be aware of how changes will impact everyone else and how the end-users can all stay in the know. This will decrease confusion and problems down the line.
- Test and validate. That’s probably something all tech experts already know, but it’s worth repeating. We’ll never grow beyond the need to test and validate changes in software before we make them permanent. This step has to be built into the protocol and timeline.
- Make it easy for people to know what will change, what is changing, then what has changed. It may feel unnecessary since most end-users or staff won’t understand high-tech changes, but it’s important that you proactively communicate during those three stages of change. Be sure you prioritize communication with leadership, then with the company as a whole, so everyone knows change will come, is coming, and has happened.
- Rollout incrementally, if needed. It may feel easier to update or change the software in one fell swoop, but if this change dramatically impacts system users, you need to be careful. Too much change all at once runs a risk of increasing margins for error, as well as not giving people time to adapt.
BONUS: The Seven R’s of Change Management
Some business analysts have used the Seven R’s concept to analyze the full process of change management. This can easily be applied in a tech context and may help you identify gaps in your own sequences or tasks:
- RAISED = Who raised the need for, or requirement of, change?
- REASON = What is the reason behind the change?
- RETURN = What return should you get from the change?
- RISKS = What risks are inherent in the proposed change?
- RESOURCES = What resources will be necessary to deliver change?
- RESPONSIBLE = Who is overseeing or responsible for building, testing, and implementing change?
- RELATIONSHIPS = What is the connection or relationship between this change and other changes?
Key qualifiers in a change management process (i.e., what else will it affect and what should the measurable results be?) will matter greatly to company leaders, and they should be considered at every step of the process.
Change Management Software Solutions
In a digital age, companies must stay on the cutting edge of the latest tools and technology. Responding to the rate of change may feel like running a sprint all day every day. Creating change management processes, then refining them until they’re instinctive, is the only way to keep up. Whether you’re upgrading to virtual desktop services, a unified communications platform, or any other cutting-edge business tech, Evolve IP is the award-winning team for you. We are experts in change, operating already in the “what’s next” of emerging technology and bringing the best products and services to our clients. By integrating unified communications, collaboration, voice, virtual desktop, and contact center tools from leaders like Microsoft, Cisco, and VMware, and filling in the gaps, we are improving the user experience for both employees and customers, while centralizing technology management. So, no matter how locations, tools, and partners change over time, you have a robust and reliable workplace solution that makes the future of work better for everyone.
Contact Evolve IP today to learn more.