We all know that change is usually hard and often comes with a cost. The profession of the change manager lies in this: it takes a village to change an enterprise.
The elements of change management
The bigger the organization, the harder it gets. Particularly when it comes to changing IT architecture. What causes this? When you look at the job of the change manager, there are several aspects to the job:
- Getting all the relevant knowledge on the table
- Documenting that knowledge
- Verifying the knowledge
- Converting the knowledge into an actionable plan
- Freeing up budget
- Aligning stakeholders and keeping them informed
- Transferring the actions to take to the IT department
And last but not least: there is a strong cultural and emotional side to change. People don’t like change, and it is uncomfortable. And when change means to let go of something you have worked very hard to create, it even hurts. The emotional side of change is an essential part of the process. That’s why Kotter’s change model primarily addresses this side of change in the first three stages of his change model.
Change in the IT landscape
When it comes to IT landscape changes, things get even more complicated. Most IT managers are reluctant to change the IT landscape, as change disrupts the well-defined architecture everyone has agreed upon. Change means taking a risk. And to improve things, you first need to put in an effort.
The current linear change process in the IT landscape is usually not even that linear. Most of the time, it is a matter of zigzagging back and forth between feedback rounds and development. This is caused by a number of things:
- Business and IT do not speak the same language. The business side must explain what needs to be done and have to make their assumptions explicit. As some of those assumptions tend to be somewhat technical, this is a hard thing to do and usually results in an incomplete first briefing.
- Business can’t see what IT is doing. So feedback can only be given based on the output, not the process – a mutually frustrating phenomenon
- It is nearly impossible for the business to design a system that fits all use cases upfront. So iterations and feedback loops are important. An agile way of working can bring that feedback loop down to two weeks. The shorter the feedback loop, the more successful you can be.
Creating a hyper agile yet robust architecture
A hyper agile state means you can make changes quickly and in cooperation. To become hyper agile, you need
- a robust landscape designed to support changes at will. Otherwise, IT will spend too much time supporting the change process;
- a process designed to support immediate feedback from the business to IT and vice versa, so the distortion is taken out of the process;
- a collaborative way of design and implementation.
A traditional linear process takes at least one sprint of usually two weeks. A hyper agile process is interactive and takes maybe two hours. Both approaches are visualized below.
The critical element in this hyper agile process is the collaborative business definition.
This means creating an architecture where business rules – all definitions of business decisions based on data, data analysis, or calculations – are defined by the business. These can be entered into the landscape, either by the business directly or by the IT department in a collaborative session. The way to achieve this is to separate functionality and connectivity from business rules configuration.
Having a landscape where business rules are configured, led by the business, and overseen by IT, also requires transparency and clear documentation. No vague black boxes, but instant documentation, API adjustment, and a no-deployment integration of the business rule engine into the landscape.
In one collaborative session, IT and business can define the changes that need to be made and execute them without being at risk of disrupting the integrity of the IT landscape. This approach reduces the time to change from two weeks to two hours.
With business decisions back in the hands of business and integrations back in control with IT, all departments can focus on what they do best with less risk of things getting lost in translation.
If you want to know more about how Rulecube enables hyper agility, contact us today.