A large number of you are providing change management support to large-scale system changes: major overhauls of the basic technology that supports the business or the installation of an enterprise resource planning system. This is going to result in a fundamental restructuring of the way your company does business.
It’s logical that the technology, being the impetus for the change that will result, has a strong presence in the change. It’s also logical that the IT department is playing a large role in the implementation of the software. But as it is the business that will change as a result of the introduction of the new or revised software, it is also logical that there are people from the business on the project team as well.
There is a natural and inherent conflict that can develop between these two groups. Their goals are fundamentally different and their goals drive how they operate on the project. The goal of the technology people is to get the system up and running. That’s their area of expertise and that’s what their management up in the IT chain of command holds them accountable for.
The members of the project team who come from the business have a different goal. Unless these two groups recognize these differences and address them, the project team can become locked into a tension that ultimately paralyzes the project. There is a natural tendency, as a project team forms, to jump right into the design of the project plan. But with conflicting goals, the design of the plan can get bogged down in discussions of line items on the Gantt chart that take hours and hours to resolve.
As the change management person supporting this team, consider challenging the team before it starts on the implementation. Ask them to look at themselves and agree on a mutually acceptable set of goals. This is a much larger picture of the operation than just the org. chart. It means addressing the issues of who on the team has the ultimate authority in dealing with technology elements, the elements that result in process changes. Who has the authority when dealing with job redefinitions and the determination of what screens and dashboards will look like, how the changes in thinking about the work and how the work gets done will be addressed? In other words, the team must first come to terms with how much change this change will cause and what their role, collectively and individually, will play in its achievement.