Some IT projects forget the saying “things do not change; people change. [1] Lack of attention to the way people are affected by change is the root cause of many failed projects. Change needs to be managed with as much rigour as the IT aspects of programmes.

Change can provoke a wide range of initial responses. Some see it from a negative perspective because it means leaving the comfort of expertise and the well-known. They see it as destabilising and threatening. Some people are sceptics – they see another big idea that might not happen. Some people are exhausted by the thought of yet another project – and some are excited by the new opportunities.

In theoretical terms, these ‘mindsets’ usually fall into one of four camps [2]:

  • Proactive advocacy
  • Passive advocacy
  • Apathy
  • Resistance

It’s important to identify what people are thinking and how they are feeling. What they feel will influence what they do. Change management that includes a comprehensive approach to communications helps to create understanding and advocacy.

It is important that the business teams feel that they own the changes that IT systems will be helping them achieve. The business also needs to own both the change itself and the process of embedding change. It can be tempting to fully outsource the change process to consultants. However this route can diminish the business’ buy-in and risks the long-term success of the change. Consultants should lend expertise, structure, knowledge and a methodology – but they can’t “change for you”.


[1] Henry David Thoreau

[2] Andrea Shapiro – Creating Contagious Commitment: Applying the Tipping Point to Organizational Change