Market conditions are changing quickly; firms need to make the best possible business decisions at the right time and base them on timely, accurate and relevant information from business intelligence (BI) solutions.
The repercussions of not handling BI change well are especially painful and may include lost revenue, lower staff morale and productivity, continued proliferation of shadow IT BI applications, and unwanted employee departures. Ineffective change management often lies in the process of preparing the people affected by change rather than in planning the technology implementation. Firms that fail to prepare employees for enterprise BI change early enough or well enough will be left behind. They need to implement a multifaceted series of activities ranging from management communication about why change is needed to in-depth, role-appropriate employee training.
Why change management is so critical? Most strategic business events, like mergers, are high-risk initiatives involving major changes over two or more years; others, such as restructuring, must be implemented in six months. In the case of BI, some changes might need to happen within a few weeks or even days. All changes will lead to either achieving or failing to achieve a business result. There are seven major categories of business and organizational change:
- People acquisitions
- Technology acquisitions
- Business process changes
- New technology implementations
- Organizational transformations
- Leadership changes
- Changes to business process outsourcing or IT sourcing
Don't forget to consider that change management is not project management. When organizations decide to implement change, detailed upfront planning puts the framework in place to make that change a success. Project and change management teams work in parallel but have many points of intersection. Project managers focus on aspects like tasks, timelines, and technology, while change managers look at which people will be affected by the change and plan ways to mitigate fear. With any change, no matter how small, do not neglect the people angle by focusing only on the project management aspects of the change.
In the modern world, one cannot leave technology to technologists. In BI, this is especially challenging and critical with the added complexity of increased business involvement. Unlike other enterprise IT applications, where business and IT partner, in BI the business owns many BI components and work streams. In the world of BI, technology is everyone's job. Therefore, pay particular attention to several ways in which project leaders differ from change leaders:
- Project leaders focus on tasks; change leaders focus on people.
- Project leaders and change leaders work together to integrate their plans.
- Change leaders are "people persons" with credibility in the organization.
- Team members have a wide range of competencies but add additional value with a specialty.
- BI projects are iterative; BI change management is constant and ongoing.
Forrester previously set out a general framework of change management activities and best practices in the "How To Get Ready For Change" report. Firms can apply most of these activities and practices to a broad range of enterprise software platforms and applications. Our new report, "Get Ready For BI Change" adds BI-specific context to that framework, describes the components and activities that need to be in place during the change preparation phase, and outlines a step-by-step process for how to implement them.
This blog originally appeared at Forrester Research.