Friday, January 05, 2007

Change management when introducing new IT

Article in December 06/January 07 The Chemical Engineer.
Titled 'All aboard' and written by Christopher Abiodun of IBM Global Business Services.

Concerned development of the Enterprise Asset Management system for BP's Greater Plutonio oil field operations in Angola. The system was intended to manage maintenance, but was also integrated with materials management, purchasing and supply chain management.

As well as teams dealing with the system's main functions, a change management team was put in place to assist with the people issues such as stakeholder management, project awareness, communications, and training - to ensure engagement with end users. It was felt that this was invaluable in keeping stakeholders engaged, raising awareness of the project, and assessing and communicating to the end users how the system would change current ways of working.

A key functions of the change management team was to analyse training needs and ensure that users got the training they needed. The team found that training was required in using the new system, but also in the underlying business processes. This was to help users understand why the system was designed in the way it was and how to get the most out of it. Also, it reduced intertia and resitance to change.

Abiodun writes "The importance of using change management from the early days of the project through to its conclusion to ensure engagement by stakeholders cannot be overemphasised. It was a key factor in engaging over 200 geographically-dispersed users across two continents to adopt the new system.... The effort this takes should not be underestimates; assessing the impact of change brought about by the new system, developing change strategies and executing them took hard work and dedication."

There is an element of risk in everything. By assessing this early on the risks can be managed. For this project the number 1 risk was reliance on network communications to a deepwater offshore facility. The project had enough time to identify, evaluate and assess a number of potential solutions.

Final quote from Abiodun. "A well-equipped and motivated team of seemingly ordinary people can achieve extraordinary results - although it helps to have the odd one or two extraordinary players in the team."

Andy Brazier

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