Leading IT and IT leads

by Melanie Basta
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In workplace change management, how important is the IT lead and what is their role? KAREN SKILLINGS reports on technology, IT and the change manager.

This article discusses technology in a workplace project and the important role of the IT work stream. It details the journey the IT lead and change manager will take together and the many elements of user discovery, through to user training, that may be undertaken in your next workplace project.

Technology and the workplace project

Technology underpins the significant changes in the workplace and an agile project in particular is supported by technology. It’s almost certain though, that if there’s no technology, there’s no agility.

It is important that all stakeholders in your business feel that the IT team really knows and understands the requirements and the tools available to the business.

Detailed IT discovery, including business unit requirements gathering and diagnostic questions via the change leads network, will be a vital part to getting the technology component of the project right.

The IT relationship

It’s vital to create a strong and communicative relationship with your IT lead. When building this, the change manager needs to understand that it may take some time for the IT team to land on the new technology solutions for the project.

Various solutions could be core and central to the technology changes ahead. These may include Office 365, Wi-Fi, digital signage and Skype for Business (SfB)

The IT lead may have a portfolio change manager working with them who will help with the rollout of any organisation-wide initiatives. The change manager should build a relationship with this person as well. They will be very helpful to you when you need to concentrate on the technology focus of your change program, as on many occasions you will be working side by side in the delivery of the project.

In understanding what the IT lead and the change manager need from each other, start with key topics such as:

  • What amount of support does the change team need from the IT stream?
  • What materials are required to communicate the technology changes?
  • What is the physical support and education required from staff?
  • What is the best way to mesh the IT change plan with the overall change plan in a timely fashion?
  • What are the technologies that are to be introduced into the existing building to ease transition to the new workplace; i.e. what can be done ahead of time?

Where are the new technology initiatives?

The change manager should find out what the IT work stream will be delivering on and work with them to step the delivery of these messages through any number of modes and channels, such as Strategic Leads and Change Leads packs, meetings, huddles, intranet and newsletters.

There will be myriad different technology solutions for your organisation, but the common ones may be:

  • personal toolkit
  • workplace settings
  • meeting room technology
  • wireless presenting
  • software upgrades
  • voice and video conferencing, and
  • digital signage.

In the early months of the change program, the change manager and IT lead will prepare a few lines on each initiative to share with the business. So, what could you share on each of these technology initiatives?

  1. Personal toolkit – Advise of the technology tools that each staff member will have access to in the office to enable them to do their tasks; for example, high-speed Wi-fi and software-based telephones.
  2. Workplace settings – Advise of the technology that will be available at each work setting.
  3. Meeting rooms – Advise of the core pieces of technology that will be available in the meeting rooms. Will there be a console indicating the room availability?
  4. Wireless presenting – Will the new office enable wireless connection at all, and what is the sell here? For example, will all laptops will have the ability to quickly and easily share screens to the displays in meeting rooms?
  5. Software upgrades – What are the software upgrades that are part of the technology strategy and when will they occur?
  6. Voice and video conferencing – Are meeting rooms video-enabled for collaboration and voice calling? How do staff book this?
  7. Digital signage – What is digital signage used for and where will it be located? For example, it should be placed in strategic, high traffic areas.

Business unit requirements

The change manager needs to remember that the business unit requirements (BUR) gathering exercise is a large piece of work and will involve a great number of IT staff in investigating, validating and remedying findings.

During the BUR gathering the IT work stream may learn of special and critical requests that need to be explored further. These could include:

  1. Some teams currently use Macs so they can run specialist software. The IT work stream needs to understand if this is a ‘nice to have’ or are there PCs or laptops that these staff can use to deliver the same results.
  2. Some teams have requirements outside the normal hardware range supported by IT. If this is the case the IT work stream needs to find out more about this.

IT input to design process

The IT work stream can input to the design process through explaining limitations of the current facilities. This work can occur organically through the project or as a result of the business user requirements where the IT work stream share their own and staff views of limitations that need to be corrected next time round.

IT providing timely messages to the business

The IT lead will provide regular updates on the technology changes for the new workplace as they uncover them and the change manager should incorporate any of these updates into the change program. If the change manager is communicating on behalf of the IT work stream, they shouldn’t try to stay away from explaining anything technical or subject matter they are not comfortable having a conversation about. The IT lead should be the person to tackle the technical discussions with staff to keep the confidence of staff high and the information relevant.

Before any issue of information packs or staff meetings, the IT lead should be provided with the opportunity to update regarding any further discovery, testing, deliveries or training.

Pre-move testing

Prior to any physical move of staff into your new building, the new technology will need to be installed and tested. This includes User Acceptance Testing (UAT) from the business to get staff ready ahead of the physical move. These initiatives may include, but are not limited to, Skype for Business and Managed Print Services (Follow-Me Printing).

Before any technology testing can be organised, the site needs to be clean and handed over. This installation/commissioning and testing can only be completed in a functioning office.

The workplace services and IT work stream should catch up to discuss timings for deliveries and on-site testing.

IT work stream providing content for the Welcome Pack

The change manager will coordinate the gathering of content from the IT lead for the Welcome Pack.

Some topics for the Welcome Pack may include:

  • how to log a service request
  • Wi-Fi connectivity – the connection process and who can help
  • how devices will connect and what is the provision for mobile devices
  • wayfinding and finding a desk
  • locating a colleague, and
  • Follow-Me Printing (and link to instructions on the set-up and registration process).

Day 1 tech immersion support

Tech immersion support is the IT work stream being visible and proactive with staff on day one in the new workplace. They may form part of the Command Centre, but also be an independent sub-team. They will typically be identifiable by T-shirts or caps, so that staff can seek support from them quickly and confidently.

It is important for the IT lead to understand the level of support for staff and to meet this expectation. The IT support team must be fully versed in the type of issues that are foreseeable and be available throughout the ‘heightened support period’ post move. NB: this period will be commensurate to the size of the move.

Decommission, surplus IT and CUC

If your organisation is doing a total exit from the existing premises, the IT work stream may prefer to leave any unnecessary gear in place in user land.

The IT lead may organise their decommission vendors to do a complete sweep of the floors such as drawers, cupboards, nooks and crannies etc, so they will retrieve IT material from wherever it may be.

Key messages for the IT lead on your next project

The way technology is used now in your workplace and understanding the spaces where the technology works and the shortfalls will help the IT work stream identify any future solutions.

Transparent communication with the project team and business on new technology initiatives is encouraged. Motivate your IT work stream not to keep things a secret until the end.

The IT lead and their IT work stream are expected to meet the needs of all business units with the common expectation that exploration will be undertaken early in the project to ensure team needs are adequately addressed and that these needs are recorded safely, so that they don’t fall off the radar.

All recommendations, budgets and scenarios of how the technology will play out should be presented to the project control group for direction in how to go forward to achieve support and acceptance from the business. Just because there are recommendations and scenarios on deployment mapped out, there is no guarantee that the IT will deploy well in the new workplace. The IT work stream needs to work hand-in-glove with the rest of their project team leads and use the services of the change manager to help socialise and gain acceptance for any technology changes or enhancements.

Karen Skillings is the principal of Skillings Education and an expert in information management, change management and relocations. An accomplished author, she has several publications to her name and has developed nationally recognised training programs.

Image: 123RF’s racorn © 123RF.com

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