November 23, 2018
Change management dates back to the early 20th century. But how much of the original framework remains the same today? It’s surprising that despite the major technological changes that have occurred since that time, the basic principles of change management remain very similar.
Change is difficult, and some people are resistant to change, whether it’s within a business or just their personal lives. Resistance to change makes it difficult to implement a new tool or way of working because people are used to the way things have always been done. However, this doesn’t mean that your organization should continue to put up with multiple failed events, ruined weekends and sub-optimal deployments. The old ways are not best practice, and failures lead to loss of revenue, missed cost-saving opportunities, lack of regulatory compliance and increased risk.
This post will outline the state of enterprise change management and how it has changed over time. We’ll also see where organizations are failing and how problems can be rectified.
Change management as a studied concept dates all the way back to 1908. Although businesses have been doing enterprise change management for so long, there have been no major innovations since the Gantt chart in 1910. With the speed at which technology has evolved in every other aspect of society, it’s time that businesses found a better, more efficient way of orchestrating change.
In the 1950s, project management as we know it today began to emerge. The fifties saw the start of businesses using formal project management tools and techniques to aid with complex projects.
But it wasn’t until the 1990s that change management truly embedded itself in the business world. Many of the guiding disciplines that were introduced during this time are still at the forefront of change management today.
As technology and businesses evolved with increasingly integrated technologies, the need for and speed of change snowballed and businesses started to rely on project management tools more heavily than ever.
Businesses now need a new way to manage enterprise change as a substitute for various spreadsheets, emails, phone calls and basic project planning tools which don’t provide collaborative planning, real-time status updates, instant communications and an automated audit trail. There is still drama around enterprise change and weekends are still being ruined by poor change management. The need for effective communication is greater than ever before and there is a greater need for transparency and audit capabilities in enterprise change.
Enterprise Change is difficult, it often fails and is rarely optimized. It fails or is sub-optimal for two major reasons: the complexity of change has outstripped the ability of the tools currently being used to support change events, and businesses do not usually plan change over the long term.
Major failures are often blamed on poor execution, but insufficient planning, rehearsal and improvement are as much to blame as anything. Unstructured data is hidden across the organization, making it difficult to understand all the change that is happening at once and make the most of past experience to improve the change process.
Your best, most knowledgeable people have to spend all their time on administration and communication during critical change events. Due to these reasons, businesses need increased orchestration and communication capabilities at every stage of the change - from planning and scheduling to rehearsal, execution, communications, recovery and post-event audit.
In addition, enterprises need a longer-term view of planned change in order to avoid last-minute changes and possible release contention. They also need to have an effective and up-to-date recovery plan, should anything go wrong.
Many enterprises struggle to improve their capacity for change at the pace required in today’s competitive landscape and often suffer release failures. Making changes to systems that need to be on 24/7 is incredibly difficult and risky. Building release plans can take days, with multiple walkthroughs and briefings that slow the entire process down.
One large UK retail bank was suffering from these issues because they didn’t have the right tooling to deal with the complexity of the changes they wanted to make to their major systems. After adopting an enterprise change management platform that allowed them to plan, rehearse, orchestrate and review every aspect of the change, they saw an improved level of risk mitigation, ensuring planned maintenance and upgrades were carried out correctly and avoiding follow-on incidents that could impact customers.
Building release plans took hours instead of days, and the number of walkthroughs before the change were reduced from ten to one, and the walkthrough was more interactive and engaging, allowing for a better understanding of the change before the event.
A combination of a new platform with updated processes allowed the bank to increase their change capacity by 20%, reduce their risk of outages by 15% and save £12 million per annum on change.
Effective enterprise change management isn’t easy. Existing tools and methods are no longer sufficient for dealing with the speed and complexity of change. Enterprises must find a method to improve execution and planning. They must find a way to manage disparate data and orchestrate hundreds of humans, myriad technologies and thousands of tasks at pace, in hours, minutes and seconds.
To find out more about how Cutover's Work Orchestration & Observability can help you with your change management challenges, download our fact sheet.