Managing Change within IT Transformation

Principal Analyst

Top of Mind: Managing Change within IT Transformation
Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

In this Top of Mind, Tambellini focuses on transitioning people, processes, groups, departments and the institution to new ways of working and serving constituents successfully. After reading, you should feel confident about the definition of change management, when to think about change management, resources to help institutions, and the goals of change management.

As part of ongoing research, Tambellini asks institutions, “Have you experienced a failed or failing cloud implementation?” When the answer is yes, we most often hear that user adoption, training, and project governance are top areas that lead to failure. These are critical areas requiring proper funding and strong leadership.

Other areas that are routinely mentioned when cloud projects are failing include turnover of key stakeholders during the project, lack of skilled project management, and stakeholder unwillingness or inability to adapt to change. In sharp contrast, institutions with successful projects talk about the visibility of leadership, executive sponsorship, and effective change management. Top institutions with successful cloud implementations often report that change management is a significant priority. Tambellini notes that there are many factors to consider as part of change management, and a tailored approach is likely required.

Change management concepts are not new. What is new is a widespread realization that within higher education, funding change management is critical as institutions shift from highly customized on-premises software to cloud-based solutions. The first project to transform from an on-premises solution to a cloud-based solution will likely be referred to as a transformation project within the institution. This first project will also probably be the most difficult. The transformation could be CRM, finance, HCM, or student. Wherever the institution begins, there will be new challenges that are unrelated to the solution or the vendor selected.

For consulting firms, change management is a major practice area. Higher education institutions of all sizes and types are moving legacy on-premises applications to the cloud. In order to move people, processes, groups, departments and the institutions to new ways of working and serving constituents successfully, executive sponsorship is often mentioned as a key for success. With executive sponsorship in place, institutions have the support required to implement significant changes in processes that impact individuals, groups and departments. Consulting firms approach change management from a variety of perspectives. Some firms have proprietary methodologies. One of the most well-known methods for approaching change management is the Prosci methodology.

You can learn more about how Prosci defines change management here:

Recently Tambellini had the opportunity to interview Collaborative Solutions and to discuss their approach to change management. Collaborative Solutions is a Workday implementation partner, and the company uses the Prosci methodology.

Danielle White, VP of Strategy and Transformation with Collaborative Solutions discussed the importance of change management. Danielle noted that change management helps reduce risk and sets the stage for stakeholder engagement. Part of the change management process is to help institutions think about decision making and governance. Governance needs to be in place before a cloud transformation project begins.

Principal Consultant, Love Anderson from Collaborative noted that change can be harder to perceive, adopt and manage in higher education.

Tambellini notes that in higher education, cloud solutions are often replacing legacy solutions that have been in place for twenty years or more. Faculty and staff may not like everything about the current solution, but it is familiar. New systems may address pain points and requirements, and they require change. Work will be done differently.

Tambellini recommends that institutions budget separately for change management as part of cloud implementations. The budget will vary depending on the size of the institution. Institutions will also need to consider end-user training and on-going staff training as part of the budget. These line items are sometimes overlooked. Collaborative includes some change management with every engagement. As institutions consider cloud implementations, it is important to understand what is in and what is out of scope. While many firms have change management practices, not every firm does.

When an institution begins to think about a cloud implementation, working with a third party to assist with change management can be helpful. Concepts that need to be defined include the vision, goals, and objectives of the project. The team needs to agree on a documented framework for decision-making. Doing the work ahead of the implementation will provide a guiding document to support the project management team.

Project governance should also be defined before the project begins. According to Collaborative, the risk of decision and re-decision is high if project governance is not defined from the beginning for the project. Collaborative also recommends defining the process for escalation at the on-set of the project. They encourage institutions to understand the challenges they are likely to face during implementation before they start a project.

Tambellini is often asked about the wisdom of redesigning business processes ahead of a cloud implementation. Business process design is largely determined based on the solution the institution selects. Business process redesign without context will most often result in work that cannot be used. It is much better to design business processes with the knowledge of how the new system will work. This approach will save time and money. Tambellini advocates that institutions spend time understanding gaps and requirements for a future system.

To begin thinking about a system change, Tambellini recommends assessing the current state. An assessment should focus on documenting current systems used, gaps, requirements, challenges and any functionality that is unique to the institution. Assessments should define current integrations and reporting requirements. Most assessments should take no more than twelve weeks. The approach to assessments varies widely, and many consulting firms offer assessments. Most consulting firms also provide project managers, change management, implementation, and other services related to specific vendor implementations. Tambellini does assessments for a limited number of members each year.

Once an assessment has been done, institutions are generally ready to make a vendor selection. The vendor selection will determine integrations, reporting strategy, third-party solution requirements and a host of other decisions. If the institution has started the change management process early, project teams, sponsors and communications plans are in place. Within the institution, different groups and individuals will have unique perspectives.

As the implementation work begins, stakeholder assessment is a key step. It is important to understand who will support the changes. It is equally important to know who will not support the changes. When major systems change, nearly everyone is impacted. The institution will need to assess the impact to each job function in order to determine how to manage the communication, training and employee satisfaction.

Each functional area will need advocates to support the project. Advocates are generally part of the project from the beginning and are subject matter experts.

Detailed communications plans will need to be developed. Developing detailed plans and strategies is a specialized skill that may be supported by a team made up of external and internal staff.

Training for end users can be overlooked, but it is especially important in large system projects. Not only will training need to be developed for the project roll out, but ongoing training will need to be addressed. The approach may vary depending on institution size. The project team will also need to be trained before the project begins. Post-production training is critical for long-term success and user adoption.

If your institution seeks a change management consulting firm to assist with a cloud transformation project, Tambellini recommends considering firms based on the goals of the institution. For example, if Workday is selected, Collaborative is a Workday-only partner and may be an excellent choice. If the institution is considering multiple options, there are other firms such as Navigator Management Partners that are also trained in the Prosci methodology and that know multiple vendor solutions. Larger consulting firms such as Deloitte also have change management practices with dedicated resources.

In summary, when an institution is planning a cloud migration, change management should be top of mind. Dedicate resources early and throughout the project in order to achieve project success. Contact Tambellini to learn more about change management resources that may be a good fit for your institution. Tambellini can support you through all strategic sourcing stages of a transformation project, including defining requirements, understanding the peer landscape, picking your best fit solution, negotiating on your behalf with a vendor, and helping you to find your implementation and change management partner(s). You can find Vicki Tambellini on Twitter @vickitambellini and can email her directly with comments and questions.

©Copyright 2018, The Tambellini Group. All Rights Reserved.

Share Article:

Principal Analyst
Vicki Tambellini, CEO and founder of the Tambellini Group, has more than 30 years of experience and is an award-winning software company executive, author, blogger, consultant, guest-speaker, and entrepreneur. She has received numerous awards and honors from companies including PeopleSoft, Oracle, and NCR. Vicki has been a guest speaker at SACUBO, the Oracle HEUG, ELearning! Summit Events, Smart Woman’s Network, Richmond Venture Forum, and numerous private venues. Vicki founded Tambellini Group in 2001.

Other Posts From this Author:

Realize Your Institution's Goals Faster with The Tambellini Group®

Higher Education Institutions


Solution Providers & Investors

market insights

Become a Client of the Tambellini Group.

Get exclusive access to higher education analysts, rich research, premium publications, and advisory services.

Be a Top of Mind Podcast featured guest

Request a Briefing with a Tambellini Analyst

Suggest your research topics

Subscribe to Tambellini's Top of Mind.

Weekly email featuring higher education blog articles, infographics or podcasts.