Enterprise Initiatives

This blog focuses on Enterprise IT topics such as Enterprise Architecture, Portfolio Management, Change Management, Business Process Management, and recaps various technology events and news.

In response to the recent surge of bad publicity that SOA has received, I have been screaming from my soapbox that SOA is the real deal, it's just the people who keep screwing it up. I offered my recipe for success and my ideas about change management. As I look back at my SOA journey, I identified one new role that I would add if I ever get an opportunity to lead another SOA initiative. That role is an Organization Change Management (OCM) specialist.

What is the OCM Role?
The OCM role is critical to the success of any large scale culture changing initiative. This person is responsible for accessing the readiness of the organization to change and then creating a change management strategy to help the organization transition from its current state to the desired future state. Developing a communication plan is also a key deliverable. People at all levels of the organization need to receive frequent communications of the impact of change, when the change is coming, what it means to them, how their jobs will be impacted, what the deliverables are, what training they will receive, and when will it be delivered. To make matters more challenging, each layer within the organization will need this information in a way that makes sense to them. For example, developers will want the low level detail, the business will want it in business terms, the financial people want it in dollars and cents, and senior management want an executive summary. There is no one communication fits all.

Then there is the skills assessment. What skills do we need? What can we address with training and what do we need to go outside for? Do we need to change our incentives and rewards programs, our recruiting process, our software development life cycle process, etc.? Does our existing job titles and pay scales make sense for the skills we need?

You can see that from this list of questions the scope of this role is more public relations (PR) and human resources (HR) then it is architecture.

Who fills this role?
There are a few options. This can be filled internally by an executive sponsor, an HR generalist, or even a project manager. However, only fill this internally if the person has clout and is near 100% dedicated to the project. If they have another day job then don't bother. External resources are also an option. This has many benefits. First, you can get someone who lives and breaths change management and has been through many of these types of initiatives before. Why reinvent the wheel and learn this from scratch when there are experts in the field. Second, the hours needed each week may fluctuate. You may need 40 hours one week and 20 the next. With an external resource you can pay only for the hours you need. Third, it is advantageous to have a fresh perspective from an outsider who is not tied to existing processes and cultural barriers. Fourth, this person can give candid feedback to the higher ups without worrying about getting fired. For example, let's say a senior executive is not pulling his or her weight in one area of the project. The consultant can confront that person and in extreme cases go above that person to provide feedback without worrying about their next pay check.

What are the benefits?
Investing time and money in change management can make or break a project. In my case, several of us took on various tasks in this area, but collectively we did not have sufficient time to communicate at the level we needed to. Some areas we didn't even get a chance to address. Leveraging an OCM specialist greatly improves communication, addresses project risks, helps people adjust to change, and greatly reduces resistance. You can survive without this role, but it will be much harder, cost more, and take longer due to resistance to change and communication gaps. Take it from someone who has spent the last two years fighting the good fight, change is good, but dedicated change management specialists are better.


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