Changing technology without a change in process: No wonder it failed

Change initiatives and programmes are renowned to fail fifty percent of the time. Several massive information technology change initiatives in the largest of corporations have failed; examples abound of such failed change programmes, from the £12.4 billion NHS IT programme, to the Department of Work & Pensions, to other large private & public enterprises who are constantly changing their IT suppliers due to the failure of those suppliers to deliver on the goals set out at the beginning of such initiatives.

Although there are several reasons why change initiatives fail, but one common theme with changes that are technology led is the reluctance of the organisation to change some of their business processes despite knowing that the new technology may not fully support their business processes. One question you might like to ask is “why is there a change in technology when your business process is not ready for change?”; one other statement I have heard countless times is “business goals and processes should drive the adoption of technology and not the other way round”.  It is noteworthy to appreciate that sometimes change is enforced due to technology obsolescence and that organisations may not have any other choice than undergoing change,  despite the pains of change.

It is not difficult to know organisations that are transfixed on keeping business processes the same when a technology led change should ideally lead to change in some business process. Some of the metaphors in use in such organisations are as follows:

  • Lift and shift
  • Like for like
  • Same features and functions

Some of those organisations also expend an extensive amount of resources (human and financial capital) tweaking and customising the technology solutions to align with business processes, which most times lead to project delays.  Such organisations fail to realise that existing business processes would have evolved over time in order to effectively and efficiently utilise the underlying technological solutions, and a new technological solution might also require some time in order for the stakeholders to become proficient users.

The article is not suggesting all technology led change initiatives should translate into changes in the business process, as every change is unique, however, the article is suggesting that organisations should take a holistic approach to technology led changes and there should be no holds barred discussion areas.

Finally, undertaking a change readiness assessment may provide you with the opportunity to have a more in-depth understanding of how technology change will affect your business processes.

For more information on how to plan for a change readiness assessment when planning a technology led change initiative, do not hesitate to contact the author of this article. He and his team can help your organisation transition smoothly when undergoing a change process.


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