In any organisation updating IT can be a painful experience. IT projects may feel they have an unequivocal mandate to change, but the business will push back if the migration will compromise its ability to work. As a result, costs mount and the dreaded ‘m’ word looms large – mop-ups.
Because of my interest in IT and passion for change, I was asked to represent my part of a company on a huge IT upgrade programme. I was responsible for migration to Windows 7 (showing my age) and that encompasses rationalisation and standardisation of apps, an email server migration and network upgrades.
In my previous day jobs in the same company I had experienced migrations and, while no worse than at other companies, there were aspects I was keen to avoid. In particular, I wanted to:
- leave no-one behind, I have experienced first-hand the disruption from team members attempting to collaborate across different platforms (and in a matrix organisation, everyone is at most two degrees of separation from each other)
- minimise business disruption – in a previous migration my laptop was taken from me in the morning and replaced in the evening
My two masters had different ideas:
- The IT project wanted me to make the business comply with their migration strategy and plans.
- The business wanted me to eliminate any work they had to do to migrate – as well as any issues or other forms of disruption.
I started by reviewing a migration in an overseas site. The same project team managed the migration and my colleagues were more than happy to point out the problems they had experienced.
- Using my findings, I worked with internal IT colleagues, a Big Four consultancy and two specialist IT firms, to understand what they needed to do and how they planned to work.
- I also set out my stall with the business understanding what they needed to minimise disruption and what I needed to do to gain their compliance.
Sometimes I had to persuade the project to change its practices (for instance, I insisted on a pilot at the start of the project and go/ go no gates before each migration); sometimes I had to be firm with the business as some teams and individuals tried to opt out.
Most of all, I focused on the outcome and approached each risk, issue or concern analytically and pragmatically – my solutions ranged from training, more and better communications and hands-on support to IT changes including changes in architecture and a shortening of the of the ‘no changes’ window before each migration. I hasten to add the latter was for additions of people, if we had failed in our preparations I would have moved people to another migration.
There were some major post migration issues, none of which were repeated and, frustratingly, a slew of chronic issues with the hardware and build. But we held reviews for each migration and one of our closeout criteria was that all issues were resolved to the satisfaction of the business.
At the end of the project each migration was being closed within two weeks, we knew exactly who hadn’t been migrated and why. I put in place a BAU (business as usual) solution to migrate people returning from maternity leave, overseas placements and long-term sick leave, as well as making sure all new starters received the right standard of hardware and access to infrastructure. The project migrated 98% of 5,000 people in less than six months – with no mop-ups.
Business outcome focus – ensuring business readiness, ensuring project readiness, issue resolution, lessons learnt, scheduling migrations around business constraints, ensuring the business complied with the readiness process
Communications – use of local communications via the group President to enforce compliance with migration, network of local champions, rewrite of corporate communications and how to guides, use of email, posters, documents on desks, team meetings and intranet
Business analysis – structured list of all users with key data and change control, audit of application discovery by individual and function, understanding of business critical periods, processes and programmes
Risk and issue management – identification via network of local champions, functional representatives and lessons learnt, joint RAID log with IT project team, regular reviews and escalation, maintained local list of post-migration issues and drove closure and confirmation of closure
Project governance – common terminology, reduced cost of IT processes, go/ no-go gate before migration, business only review and closure
Do you need to upgrade your IT tools? Are you worried that IT and the business will clash instead of co-operating? Contact us today to discuss your requirements and learn what Delta Swan can do for you.