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Manage Change Effectively To Avoid IT Project Failure

Think of how difficult it is to change yourself, then imagine how hard it is to change others. In the world of launching & implementing IT initiatives the single most critical point of failure lies in not managing change effectively. Most CIOs are aware of the difficulties in launching new technologies; they have delivered projects that involve integrating new technologies and they they have first hand experience of how difficult it is to drive change across the organisation. This article will address some tools available for CIOs to effectively manage change.

SearchCIO.com research shows. "CIOs are involved with managing the project portfolio or adjusting priorities among projects at less than 20% of organizations with more than 1,000 employees, according to our survey of 304 organizations this spring. Rather, those duties are most often performed by IT directors or governing bodies. Instead, the CIO's role is one of communicating a vision and driving a change management strategy that will result in greater user and organizational acceptance of the projects selected for development. The CIO can't just delegate project management responsiveness to the staff because he must lead by example."

Change management has to take place in the beginning because the overall IT strategy will succeed or fail based on this. To manage change effectively the CIO should introduce initiatives to everyone affected by them, and should also introduce any new roles or expectations to team members to get everyone on the same page at the same time. It eliminates any surprises which so often results in a disenfranchised workforce. It is about creating a culture that embraces change and does not view it as a threat because they have clear understanding of roles, responsibilities and expectations. But ensure not to have too much process around change because that can also lead to a problem where it becomes bureaucratic resulting in projects never going anywhere waiting for sign-off from the 12th person. As commented by Turner CIO of Point B on SearchCIO, "Tighter budgets have led many organizations to add checkpoints for proposals, aimed at weeding out unnecessary or unrealistic projects before they even start. And although these processes can prevent wasting time and money on projects that don't provide a lot of value, they also stifle innovation and discourage new ideas. Finding a middle ground is difficult. If there are too many approval points, people get frustrated and throw up their hands in defeat, but not enough, and engagement can fizzle out"

One of the most effective tools for managing change is to complete a stakeholder matrix for every IT project, whereby you clearly identify all the important contributors to the project and draw up a plan for how to ensure they support the project. Start basic, envisioning a plan that has better stakeholder alignment and overall clarity into what the business problem is that is trying to be solved by technology, then communicate the plan and get everyone's buy-in. Try and do these meetings face to face as there will be some important non-verbal signs that might indicate if someone is onboard which you will miss on a conference call.

At the end of the day the CIO's objective is to keep operational spend under control while still supporting a business that is constantly changing. Empower short wins, speak in a language that engages the business leadership team, get the vision right, and communicate for buy-in at every opportunity. You can have the most effective change management strategy with the best project management workflow out there, but without the support of the management team, the IT projects will not be delivered successfully.

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