Using a Change Management Approach to Implement It Programs

By Hornstein, Henry | Ivey Business Journal Online, January/February 2008 | Go to article overview

Using a Change Management Approach to Implement It Programs


Hornstein, Henry, Ivey Business Journal Online


Too often, implementing enterprise-wide information technology neglects the human factor. Thus author demonstrates that attention to organization development and change management in IT implementation has resulted in a positive impact on productivity, job satisfaction, and other work attitudes, in the end, justifying the pursuit of change management effectiveness in most organizational interventions, particularly in IT initiatives that traditionally tend to turn the organization into which they are introduced upside-down.

To respond to change today, many organizations have invested heavily in capital-intensive expenditures such as new equipment and/or technology (such as ERP packages like SAP and Oracle) in the hope that these will reduce cost and increase productivity. They have had these hopes because they have believed the slick presentations provided by consultants and sales representatives which promise positive results over-night. Alternatively, they have adhered to a century-old belief, which has since been largely debunked, that has said that through technological innovation alone survival and prosperity will be assured. Unfortunately, the prevailing belief is that the shiny new thing is more "sexy" and easy to sell to customers who are looking for the one thing that will solve all their profitability and survivability issues.

Nonetheless, much of the recent academic research has shown that it is not the "hard" technology acquisitions by themselves that guide organizational success, but the integration of these assets into organizational change management processes that elevate the importance of the human system. It is the integration that really makes the difference. As an illustration, in 2003 a Standish Group International survey showed that an astounding 66 percent of information system (IS) projects failed/were cancelled or were challenged (Standish is a market research and advisory firm that regularly tracks the success of IT projects around the world). It maintained that a significant contribution to this poor showing was the failure of most IS/IT interventions to effectively integrate employee adoption issues (including how to effectively resolve resistance to change).

This article will attempt to demonstrate how important it is that the users and marketers of IT tools recognize that in order for computer technology to make the impact that it promises, they must recognize that the users must be engaged in implementation planning at the beginning instead of as an afterthought. After all, the current technology available to business at large does not run itself; people impact and are impacted by it. It is far past time for there to be more than lip service paid to this issue.

The need for the proactive management of change

In 2004, Statistics Canada reported that investment in information and communication technologies (ICT) had contributed to strong labour productivity growth in Canada after the mid-1990s. Moreover, industries that have invested heavily in ICT, for example retail trade, finance, and communication services, have experienced more rapid productivity growth. Rapid technological progress in ICT-producing industries has also contributed to strong productivity growth in Canada after the mid-1990s.

However, the point must be made that simply purchasing advanced technologies does not necessarily lead to success. Firm performance critically depends on how these technologies are implemented. Successful implementation of these technologies requires among other things a human resource strategy to develop the necessary worker skills and engage them in the process.

Police and public safety and security services, although having been buffered in the past from change by layers of bureaucracy and their broad public service mandate no longer find themselves able to dodge the scrutiny that has been visited on their government brethren. In Canada, the financial transgressions of the prior sitting government have resulted in the passage of legislation whose intent is to bring fiscal accountability back to the everyday functioning of government, i. …

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