by Paul T. Cottey

How much change is too much change for end users?

Nov 02, 2015
Business IT AlignmentCIOCollaboration Software

It is your job to find the pace which balances the need to change with the ability to change.

Whether Roberto Duran actually said “No mas” in the eighth round against Sugar Ray Leonard or not, many of our business users are ready to say “No more” to the changes we introduce into their worlds.

We IT professionals like to think that the critical path to getting a project done is the speed at which we can convert data, back up and restore a system, or add capacity to a server. That may be true in an IT-centric view of the world.  The true gating factor, however, is the speed at which your users or customers can absorb the change inherent in those changes to the system.

But, you say, we’ve committed to budgets and go-live dates. We’ve made promises to our bosses. We have schedules. We have a project plan. We are being assessed on making our dates! Letting the users decide on the pace of a system deployment is, as an old friend of mine says, like letting the turkeys vote for or against Thanksgiving. Isn’t it?

It is not. The best system will fail to achieve its goals if no one uses it. The best project will fail if the sales team does not understand what to sell and how to sell it. More system capacity won’t get orders out the door faster if the systems’ users are overwhelmed with trying to find the “submit order” button.

It is your job to find the pace which balances the need to change with the ability to change. I think of this as a deliberate pace.

A deliberate pace is one fast enough that people are trained and can apply what they have learned before they forget their training. It is a pace which allows people to be good at, or at least be comfortable with, a new process before additional new processes are deployed. It is a pace which allows people to see the results of their efforts under the new system and to be encouraged to embrace more change.

If you move too slowly, you lose momentum. If you move too quickly, your users end up on the canvas. If you are not sure on the amount of change you can introduce, get some feedback from your users, and don’t forget to say thank you.