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article imageQ&A: Why employee resistance hampers change programs Special

By Tim Sandle     Nov 25, 2018 in Business
Many change programs fail to achieve their goals, in large part due to employee resistance. However, this can be overcome by incorporating ITIL into the change management process, according to Michael Mazyar.
It's no surprise that people fear the unknown, so it's important that organizations build clear communication channels when introducing change. By incorporating ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) into the change management process organizations can provide clear communication to the people affected, preventing (or at least reducing) frustration while improving service quality and consistency across the day-to-day operations.
CTO of Samanage, Michael Mazyar, discusses how he implements this process in his own teams and how organizations can use ITIL to formalize the change management process.
Digital Journal: Why are change management programs important for businesses?
Michael Mazyar: Business need sound change management practices to organize their evolving IT landscape and minimize service disruptions. As part of ITIL best practices, the goal of continued process improvement pushes us to look at how we are designing and operating the services needed to run our business. To make good decisions about improving our processes, we need data and consistency.
DJ: Do change management programs need to be linked to technology?
Mazyar: Absolutely, and probably in two ways: Today’s work landscape requires not just many tools as the business solution, but sometimes many connected and interdependent tools. Hardware and software are the most obvious things to manage under a change program.
To facilitate that change program, technology can do the heavy lifting: network and agent based discovery of the environment being managed, tracking access to systems, and even dependent job control processes. Tying these into the right tools will show stakeholders what is changing, the impact of the change, any change collision, change calendar, and more.
DJ: Why do most change management programs fail?
Mazyar: First there must be management buy-in to champion the process and show that it is valued at all levels.
Second, the organization’s needs must be appropriately considered. There are a lot of questions to be answered, such as: ‘What are our requirements?’, ‘Who are our stakeholders?’, ‘What should be considered a Standard, Normal, or Emergency change based on the Configuration Items in our CMDB?’
Follow the process, be consistent and accurate. Just like anything else we are designing, ITIL principles should be applied. This means we should strive for continuous improvement.
DJ: How can employee resistance be tackled?
Mazyar: Referring back to our champion above, if management champions this process, it should not be an issue. There are a few things to look at that may help understand why some employees would resist, such as is there too much friction in the process? Are we causing people to not want to fill out a change request? Is the RFC (Request for Change) process too cumbersome? Are we creating unnecessary delays that are slowing things down?
Can we better identify standard changes that don’t need to go through the process, as a low hanging fruit?
Your tech stack shouldn’t be the wild wild west. If all else fails, point to data showing change management works, preventing unplanned outages. Any IT professional can appreciate not getting the call at 2 a.m. because of a service disruption.
DJ: How should business leaders behave in order to promote change management?
Mazyar: Again, champion the process. By attending CAB meetings and asking questions, they serve as the voice of the recipients of the service. Business leaders should also support their teams regardless of whether they are asking for a strategic change in a Change Proposal or a corrective change in an RFC.
DJ: Are there any notable case studies of poor change management practices?
Mazyar: From my experience, you can always look for room to improve. The key is to always keep the ITIL principle of Continued Process Improvement top of mind — this enables your organization to analyze and optimize processes on an ongoing basis. As service providers, this is something we should all strive for all the time.
DJ: How about positive case studies - where have change management programs succeeded?
Mazyar: The positive case studies are all very similar, and that’s great news. One of the most memorable customers I worked with was right here in North Carolina. They told me ‘When I started, we had an average of 33 outages a month.’ I couldn’t believe that. But then, the customer went on to say, ‘Once we implemented a change management process, we got that average down to just 4 outages.’ The success for this customer can primarily be attributed to finding out which systems were causing their pain points. Once they knew which apps or hardware were the troublemakers, it was easy to address.
DJ: How does ITIL assist with change management?
Mazyar: ITIL is a great framework for helping professionals approach the subject and is non-prescriptive and vendor neutral. It identifies stakeholders and suggests the way that processes should be created.
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