When management sends out the notice that the company will be transitioning to a new IT provider or solution, many IT team members say they can almost hear the collective groan from internal users. As many employees know from experience, IT transitions can be disruptive.
A common source of disruption is the difference in goals between the provider being phased out and the one being phased in. This is where your people skills will be needed, to encourage both parties to cooperate for the good of you, the client and your end users. It is this “people” side of IT transitions that is often the hardest to manage.
Before you begin the transition, create a plan. This might seem obvious, but minimizing employee impact begins with nailing down project essentials such as project scope, timeline, anticipated benefits, deliverables and data security. If the new technology will require new skills, include a plan for proactive employee training. Also, compile a list of all digital devices that will be affected by the transition.
Second, make sure you have a good team in place. Identify and task a team of your best and brightest. Appoint a Transition Manager, who is a good communicator, has strong project management skills, and understands the processes, business functions and technologies to be transitioned. Be sure to acquire an executive sponsor. Ideally, you should find someone who will be willing to roll up their sleeves and help problem solve.
Third, remind employees of any new features and functionality they may soon enjoy. That might include Find Me/Follow Me phone functionality, voicemail-to-email, secure chat or remote wipe. If you’re moving to the cloud, sell them on the convenience of a single sign-on tool for secure, password-free access to all of the cloud services they’ll soon have access to.
Don’t try to “boil the ocean.” Instead of attempting one massive migration, begin with one service. Since email is the most widely used communication tool in business, it’s often the first service to be transitioned.
Remember that in a difficult process like this, there is no such thing as over communication. Timely information exchanges with employees are critical. A well thought-out communications strategy addresses technical issues, sets realistic expectations and soothes nerves should complications or delays arise. Be sure to provide employees with opportunities to engage in ongoing feedback and discussion of concerns.
Use your IT skills to identify any automated tools or processes to help with the transition. Automation can improve your employees’ experience of the transition by giving them access to self-help tools that can help resolve issues faster. It can also reduce your support staff’s workload so you have more hands on deck for the transition work itself.
Even the best-planned IT provider transition can place additional stress on employees. Start with a good plan and a good team. And be sure to communicate relentlessly with your internal customers. Give them accurate updates on timelines, provide ample opportunity for feedback and keep that light at the end of the tunnel burning bright with reminders of the amazing new functionality to come.