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10 ways to deal with change in an IT service project

Laith Habib
April 30, 2014

Building and deploying IT services, particularly to many different stakeholders in a large organisation, can be fraught with planning, service delivery and recruitment of internal supporters.

Here are 10 tips for successful transitions in an IT service project that will energise the change helpers, enlighten the pessimists, defuse the cynics and build momentum for the effort.

1. Get the right ‘broker’
To ensure the smooth planning and management of all service transition activity, skilled and experienced transition co-ordinators must be used to negotiate a strong and deliverable service agreement between the customer and service provider, and maintain communication between stakeholders. Leaving this role to project managers may result in standards, policies or processes being circumvented due to project commitments.

2. Define success
From the outset, define and agree what successful transition will look like, ensuring all stakeholders have a common set of objectives and perceptions of the service to be transitioned and expectations are managed so that the service transition is more likely to succeed in a set timeframe.

3. Write it down!
Document clear, unambiguous and measurable requirements to ensure that the service meets the expectations of its users and aligns with business needs. Ensure service requirements are sufficiently well-defined, clear and complete for the service provider to agree to them. Define service boundaries and agree what technology and processes are in and out of scope.

4. Take it seriously

Run each transition as a project with the appropriate levels of planning, governance and reporting to ensure its success and the management of any issues or risks. Keep stakeholders informed with the progress of change, whether good or bad, and while you can adopt a flexible framework for the transition that allows the plan to evolve to suit the business needs, don’t compromise on the deliverables or the quality of the service transition.

5. Keep your eye on the goal/s
Services are created to support the business. If the service doesn’t meet business goals, it has little or no value. Make sure the IT department has the most up-to-date accurate information on business goals and don’t be afraid to challenge service requirements if they don’t address business risks and impacts.

6. Own it
Identify and agree ownership of each service requirement: agree who is the user, customer, and service provider for each action and assign clear accountability ensuring they understand their roles and responsibilities within the transition.

7. Buddy up
Ensure external vendors can meet service requirements by explaining the business’ goals and bringing them on the journey with you.

8. Get buy-in
Ensure key personnel such as the incident manager, change manager and configuration manager are aware and support the service transition.

9. Explain yourself
Ensure clear communication to all stakeholders about the reasons and rationale behind the change, the benefits expected, the plans for its implementation and its proposed effects as successful service transition and organisational change is highly dependent on effective stakeholder communication. Develop a detailed communications plan that will target information where it will be most effective and communicate progress regularly.

10. Be the early bird
Engage early with stakeholders. Stakeholder management is a crucial success factor in service transition. Each new or changed service must support and deliver stakeholder requirements to be considered successful and their active involvement will increase the likelihood of delivering as required.

Understand the needs of each stakeholder but don’t waste time on stakeholders who are already in support of the transition or are strongly opposed to transition because effort is unlikely to be rewarded. Instead, concentrate on people who are between the two extremes, who are capable of understanding and welcoming the transition while identifying and addressing stakeholder ‘fears’ as soon as possible.

Create win-win scenarios for everyone for each transition. Chair a workshop to build enthusiasm and commitment (even excitement) to the transition, while ensuring that all stakeholders are clear about how the change will impact them and what will be expected of them.

Author avatar
Laith Habib
Laith Habib is the National Competency Lead for Managed Services at business and technology consulting firm Ajilon.
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