Management foibles risk IT failures

Skimping on change management initiatives -- to compensate for technology budget 'gobbles' -- dooms IT projects to failure.

Management of IT implementations is increasingly under the microscope especially in light of the recent multimillion project blow out the National Australia Bank suffered with its integrated systems implementation (ISI) project.

Roger Hanssen, manager information systems for the Ambulance Service of NSW, said it is essential that change management be addressed in IT project plans to ensure that business benefits are fully realised.

"To not consider the implications of change is foolhardy, and may eventually lead to the failure of the project."

Hanssen said cutting back on change management to contain a budget blowout results in "short-term savings", which will "manifest as long-term problems", that will cost even more to address than if the problems had been managed during the IT project.

Brett Kennedy, director e-business, CRM for Oracle, said IT is responsible for change management being included and treated as a vital piece of the business plan for an IT implementation.

He said focus has to be put on buy-in from users, otherwise the project is "doomed to failure".

For IT, this may be difficult to achieve as "IT has its IT shop and the train of thought and mindset is on solving technology problems", Kennedy said.

"IT may not know the business as well as other sections within the organisation."

He said IT can "never" muster the buy-in to engender the amount of change required within an organisation for an IT project to succeed.

"A CIO doesn't have the momentum to [create] serious business change [without] the cooperation of peers."

Ally Thorne, IT manager for The Wine Society, agrees. "A project that affects users can only be successful if the users know both how the change has affected them and how the change will improve their use of IT resources."

Thorne said a project can be well designed and technically well implemented, but if the users are neither confident or sure of how it effects them at an early stage, pessimistic attitudes can be created which will be difficult to break down or change at a later stage.

If an organisation does not get buy in, the project is a "piece of junk if it's not used", Kennedy says.

Reefe Brighton, chief information officer for Aurora Energy, said the consequences of not getting buy-in and 'stealing' from change management monies allocated in budgets, "probably means a new project will be started to obtain the results the first one was meant to produce".

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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