Three Steps to Successfully Implementing Change in IT
Leaders in the business world can typically be placed into one of two categories: innovators and maintainers. Innovators are those who are very forward thinking and always consider new ideas and methodologies to keep a business current and ahead of its competitors. Maintainers are those who respect the traditions and customs of an organization and are hesitant to implement change that would jeopardize them. When taken to their extremes, both leadership styles can be damaging to a company. So, what is the happy medium that allows IT Managers/Directors to make needed changes to infrastructure and policy while respecting the organization's cultural norms? Here are three steps from my experience to doing this successfully:
1. Determine if change is needed.
The most important thing to remember is that change should never be made for the sake of change. While it might sound exciting and innovative to migrate to a new product or platform, it may not be the right fit for that company. To correctly identify if change is necessary, IT management must have the patience to learn the reasons why the company's existing products or policies are being used or implemented. Once this understanding is attained, IT will be in a position to make a more informed decision. When I first started in my current role, we used a particular vendor for our printing and copying that was different from another one I preferred from past experience. After learning the product and experiencing a few very positive interactions with our account rep and the support engineers, I realized why the company had used this product for over 2 decades. The customer service and pricing we received were excellent for our needs, and there was no reason to make any changes in this aspect of our infrastructure.
On the other hand, we did make a change to our wireless infrastructure by upgrading to enterprise-class APs. This was a necessary change since our previous access points were outdated and lacked important enterprise features that modern security needs required.
2. Select the correct type of change
Once you have decided that a change is necessary, the next step is to select the correct form of change. It is possible to correctly identify necessary change but fail on its implementation due to IT management's failure to understand the organization's cultural nuances. For example, if a company decided that it needed to implement a password policy which required employees to regularly change their passwords, the staff might become frustrated if they had to switch from the same password they had used for years to one they updated every three months. Instead, a sensible compromise could involve asking employees to change their passwords once a year or every 6 months which would reduce the "shock" of the new change.
3. Be open to continuous change
Once the appropriate change has been selected and implemented, the final step is to remain open to future modifications to all new plans. Remember that every product or concept that is replaced was once a new and innovative idea which made sense at the time it was implemented. Thus, even the most innovative new ideas of today may become outdated or ineffective in the near or distant future.
In summary, if IT management keeps an open mind while viewing new ideas through the lens of the company's mission and values, they will always be successful in identifying and implementing the change that is needed while preserving the traditions that are important to a company's identity and success.