Digital change tips from SolarWinds
|Richard Harris in Enterprise Wednesday, October 30, 2019|
Need digital change tips for your business? Learn about adopting digital change, successful change management, change management mistakes and opportunities for businesses.
Successful change management can identify services, users, applications and devices impacted by technology changes. Digital changes typically impact more than one department, so change management shouldn't be left responsible to solely one team, and when businesses are adopting digital solutions, it is important to keep the change management process going. We recently had a conversation with Matt Cox, Senior Director, Technical Operations, ITSM at SolarWinds who speaks about adopting digital solutions and change management.
Digital Change Tips
ADM: What are the most common change management mistakes companies make when adopting new digital solutions?
Cox: One of the biggest misconceptions companies have is that the process stops once the new solutions are implemented. Ongoing procedures for configuration change need to be put in place to help the organization account for changes down the road, like server upgrades. This helps to mitigate risk over time, ensuring the upstream or downstream impact is minimal in the environment.
Failing to keep the change management process going could create conflict between systems as new updates are added. Deploying new technology requires a large investment of time and money, so without strong documentation, a CMDB, and a post-rollout training plan, businesses may not see maximum efficiency and productivity gains expected from those investments.
ADM: If change management is executed properly, what's the opportunity for businesses?
Cox: Changes have an impact, which is why leadership makes them. When change management is executed properly, the positive impact of those changes is accelerated, and the downtime or transition periods are minimized. The entire concept of change management is to benefit the business, especially by creating standards for implementing the latest and greatest technologies.
Successful change management can identify services, users, applications and devices impacted by technology changes. It can also identify any incidents or problems that might be related to a change, even after a change is closed. This will help the organization improve its operations in an environment where technology changes, as it should.
Change can be painful and disruptive to a business. If your organization changes video conferencing software (even if it’s to scrap a buggy product or upgrade a solution), the short-term transition can make an employee’s day unnecessarily difficult if he/she is not prepared. The larger the organization, and the more reliant on technology, the more of these changes you’ll deploy, which further emphasizes the need for careful planning, testing, and communication. Simply put, effective change management keeps employees online and connected to the best resources to help them perform.
ADM: What are the best strategies for preparing employees for digital change?
Cox: If you’ve identified users as being impacted by a change, then your employees are your primary stakeholders. To keep them productive and happy, it’s important to meet them where they work. The first step is to create a point of visibility beyond simple email communication. Simply sending a mass email about an upcoming change is at best a minimal courtesy, and it will likely lead to the change blindsiding a number of people. Wherever employees go for information on the organization, whether it’s a communications platform, a company message board or intranet, or even the coffee machine, post information in those locations about important changes.
Sometimes, additional education or training will be necessary, so be sure to include these in your change calendars, and try to prepare all of the impacted employees for the upcoming deployment. It will also help to prepare your level one technicians with knowledgebase articles or anticipated FAQs for the tickets they’ll receive.
ADM: What changes need to be made to internal processes to prepare for digital change?
Cox: Communication, system training, and infrastructure tracking are the three areas companies should prioritize when making digital changes internally. Creating clear lines of communication between groundworkers, department heads, the C-suite and external stakeholders is essential to ensuring deployment plans stay on track. Each party involved should have their concerns about new technology heard and addressed, allowing leaders and decision-makers to get their teams acclimated with solutions early on.
Setting up internal training programs to coach employees on using any new systems is imperative. These programs should go into depth about the purpose behind implementing the technology, how to operate the tools for common use cases, and what success for the project looks like.
Finally, businesses need a solid tracking system. When new solutions are added to IT infrastructure, companies tend to prioritize those tools, making it easy to lose track of older systems. To ensure all parts of an IT ecosystem are working together, companies need to clearly document the status of every IT asset – hardware or software.
ADM: How can businesses prevent newly adopted systems from colliding with one another?
Cox: With an IT service management system in place, companies can track the changes being made across the organization, allowing them to identify potential challenges that would cause systems to collide with one another. Having historical data like this on hand is incredibly beneficial to preventing future collisions. As the base of historical data grows, IT teams can find trends in what previously worked to ensure any pitfalls going forward can be navigated before they occur.
ADM: Who should business leaders elect to lead change management within a company? Is it up to one person, a specific department, etc?
Cox: Digital changes typically impact more than one department, so change management shouldn’t be left responsible to solely one team. This ensures voices are heard throughout the organization. For example, IT teams are often left out of the change management discussion, only to be called in once problems appear. However, if the change management process is aligned with an organization’s ITIL processes, business leaders can proactively understand the systems and know which employees will be impacted, making the process simpler for all parties involved. Be sure to identify both a change manager and a change owner to help the rest fall into place.
ADM: How can businesses effectively measure change management success?
Cox: With any long-term deployment plan, there should be KPIs attached to the project. Measuring value, performance and improvement is a key part of any solid change management strategy. If your number one goal in change management, for example, is to reduce risk, and business-critical apps are a high priority, start by tracking their downtime. By tracking the progress through important KPIs, organizations can gain insights into whether the change was truly successful and where improvements could be made in the future.
About Matt Cox
With nearly 15 years of experience in the IT industry, Matt Cox is a lover of creating technical solutions and successful customers. As the senior director of technical operations and ITSM at SolarWinds, he leads the talented team of solutions consultants and implementation specialists who work with customers of all sizes and across many different industries to create tailored service management solutions using ITSM and ITIL best practices.