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How to Align Business & IT: Who is Riding Whom?

How to Align Business & IT: Who is Riding Whom?

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Recently, Comcast brought pureIntegration on to manage a software trial and deployment in a department that previously had been burnt. The last major system they launched was well-designed, however input was not solicited from the end users and their leadership was generally unaware of the need for the tool or the plan for its roll-out. A few months after going live, the metrics made it clear that utilization was poor. To solve this, the business implemented code changes to force utilization. Within 3 months, the app was retired.

What went so wrong? In hindsight, there were a number of gaps. The product team was operating under the assumption that adoption wouldn’t be a problem due to the strength of their idea. However they didn’t have the reporting and metrics necessary to back that up. This, combined with a natural need to hit deadlines, led to a premature launch rather than letting the facts and data determine when they were ready. Additionally, due to the lack of a more formal collaboration with the market-level leadership, the folks on the front-line hadn’t bought into the program. These factors resulted in the end users losing trust in the team and confidence in the product itself. Without the right organizational change management throughout the life-cycle of the project, even the best idea can run into resistance and adoption hurdles – creating a risk to the entire product launch.

As a result (of the above problem), the subsequent project was undertaken with a much more formal change management strategy, based on the Prosci ADKAR Model. This approach is based on the necessary outcomes that must be achieved for an individual to make change successful: awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, and reinforcement. A roll-out will only be as successful as the people responsible for implementing it. Change needs to focus not just on the business side but on the personal side, with additional attention on individuals’ incentives.

Early on, the markets were surveyed for their input and to identify points of resistance. The divisions created and owned their change plans and we established numerous feedback avenues for all levels to be heard. Reporting was stood up early, so that the pilot could be properly assessed for efficacy. We put added emphasis on front-line communication, including full transparency on our progress and challenges. And change goals were instituted prior to the pilot to ensure the impacted populations were heard and surveys were taken of all the affected teams prior to each phase of expansion and launch. We knew we were on the right path when a large expansion of the pilot was halted based on concerns expressed from the front-line agents. Rather than groans and pointed fingers, there was universal support (and a little shock) from our end users.  Never before had they seen a program of this magnitude halted based on their input. They were actually being heard! Instead of trying to force the product upon them based on pre-determined milestones, we listened to what they needed in order to feel comfortable expanding and adjusted our priorities and timeline accordingly.

The end result of this engagement was feedback from the field that “this is the way we should deploy everything!” By engaging both front-line and executive-level stakeholders, we were able to anticipate concerns early on and effectively develop a roadmap that met their needs. Continual check points enabled us to adjust accordingly along the way. We obtained their buy-in and commitment ahead of time and they took pride in the end product as a result.