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Agile/Scrum, Change Management, Partners, Processes

IT Projects and Behavioural Change

Whenever Clyde Williams (ShoNet Systems) and I meet, we invariably talk about how we help clients tackle the change management aspects of projects and programmes. It’s often said that there is no such thing as an IT Project; there are only business improvement projects that happen to have an IT-enabling component. Clyde helps clients to implement solutions based on, mostly in the Third Sector and I have blogged about the importance of digital transformation in this sector, previously.

Over breakfast, today, we were reflecting on how many IT vendors seem to assume that an out-of-the box solution can be lobbed over the wall with the assumption that end-users will love and fully adopt the new technology.

Our approach builds user engagement and change management into the project, right from the start and Clyde’s team uses agile software development approaches to ensure users see useful results early and continuously throughout a project’s lifecycle.

For example, my role in these projects is often to help the client understand how its current (As Is) processes work and to consider what improvements could be made to them (To Be processes). We use process mapping software with client staff to capture today’s processes live, in workshops. There are several benefits to this approach:

  • We get a joint (client and consultant) agreed, single view of how work gets done
  • Clients begin to see possibilities of how their processes could work, once IT-enabled
  • End-users who are involved in designing their new processes are already well on the way to wanting to adopt them
  • We reduce the risks of missing any important requirements because the client has invested time in explaining how they  work and why they do the things they do


Behavioural Change

Clyde and I were also discussing “change readiness” and how often, with projects involving IT, this defaults to “has everyone been trained?”. Frankly, I think this is far too narrow a view because what we usually need to achieve is behavioural change. We need users (or customers) to use our new processes and systems in order to realise the benefits expected from any project.

I recently wrote about the COM-B Model of behavioural change developed by Susan Michie and her colleagues at UCL. This identifies 3 elements that are prerequisites for behavioural change:

  • Capability – can people make the change
  • Opportunity – do people have the time and space to make the change
  • Motivation – do people want to make the change
Michie BCW 2011

Behaviour Change Wheel: Michie et al 2011

The model is useful because it helps us to identify a whole range of levers that we might need to pull when we are trying to create behavioural change. Training is just one of the levers. We also need to think about:

  • Incentives and recognition – e.g. good news stories of quick wins
  • Role-modeling – e.g. senior managers being early adopters
  • Measurement of adoption – e.g. usage rates, click-through rates, dwell-times, help-desk call volumes
  • Communication – e.g. of early successes
  • Environment – e.g. providing quiet and safe spaces to test and try out new software in peer groups
  • Guidelines – e.g. providing process maps of new processes
  • Enablement – e.g. training and supporting lead-users (super-users) who are available to solve problems in real-time as new systems go live

Clyde and I will be running a series of workshops during 2020 to showcase what our clients have achieved, so please look out for details.














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