After working as a systems engineer at IBM, Rich quickly moved up the ranks as an IT leader. He first became CIO at a mid-level retailer in 2003. This company declared bankruptcy, forcing Rich to make difficult choices and take huge risks to streamline his IT spending. His next CIO role was at a large-scale retailer, working to scale up IT to meet the demands of tech-savvy customers. Finally, Rich worked as CIO at a large insurance broker. Here, he discovered a passion for developing personnel and helping future IT leaders. Now, he works as an executive coach and consultant within the tech space.
Here are some of his top tips for embarking on an IT transformation project of your own:
- Identify your 3-5 main objectives for the project. Make sure everyone understands why you’re embarking on an IT transformation journey, and what the goals are. Every single person involved should be able to give the elevator pitch for your transformation project.
- IT Transformations are about more than technology – they’re about changing business processes. There is a human element to any system change. You need to make sure business leaders and employees are ready, and that the new processes are clearly outlined.
- Migrating to a new system means you might not immediately have all the functionality you currently have. Make sure business leaders know what functionality they’re gaining. But also, be sure to outline any functionality that people will be losing.
The Humanity Behind Technology
Rich decided to focus on developing personnel for a reason. An IT project will only get as far as the people working on it. And technology will only be as successful as the people who use it.
With any IT change:
- 20% of people will be very excited about new tech
- 20% of people will be extremely resistant to any change, no matter how minor
That leaves 60% of people for you to win over. How do you do this? By making sure that everyone knows what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. You can’t just tell people you’re migrating to a new platform. You need to tell them why you’re migrating to a new platform.
You can also gain people’s trust by being honest about challenges. Sharing a full picture of what to expect will help believe in your vision. No migration is free of issues and be upfront about the issues facing your transformation project.
But what about when your organization is too big, and you can’t make sure that every person is on board? That’s when you leverage a buying committee.
Using a buying committee to drive IT transformation
A buying committee is crucial to success. Together, members weigh in on key decisions, such as those requiring more money, large changes, or adjustments to the timeline. In doing so, they drive alignment from their respective sectors.
A good buying committee is made up of business leaders from every aspect of your organization, not just IT personnel. Before embarking on any IT transformation, be sure to pick your buying committee carefully. And make it clear that if you don’t have engagement from business leaders, then the project won’t get off the ground.
What to Do When You Start Second Guessing
IT transformation is difficult. And no matter how tight your project plan, there will always be a point where you’re faced with complex problems, overdue deadlines, and tech that doesn’t work.
When faced with these problems, just keep thinking back to your 3-5 main goals. If the problem you’re facing stands between you and your objective, then just keep pushing. Trust in your team and trust in the technology to transform your business.