This essay is about the importance of change management in information systems development and discusses about the issues that will be the result of change in an organization and also the relationship between change management and system implementation. This essay will explain the theories with related examples that were the implications of change in an organization and will critically evaluate and discusses some ideas from my personal point of view. This essay will reflect upon my understanding of change management that I have learned from this module.
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Change and Change Management
Change management is important in any kind of organisations and especially in information system development. It is a structured way to manage change. According to Disraeli as quoted in (Gilley, 2005) “Change is constant”. Change is present everywhere. The change can be in an individual, in a group or in an organization. When an individual is motivated to do something different, the change that happens in an individual is the main reason for the whole word to change. Since the individual is associated with groups, and groups are related to other groups to form an organisation, the important process in part of change depends on all individuals, groups or teams, and organisations and leaders also have an important responsibility in the process of change. (Cameron & Green, 2009).
Technology, globalization, society and evolving legislation forces many organisations to change constantly. The organisation’s ability to effectively implement change decides the success of the change process which completely depends of the person involved in managing the change. Change is necessary for an organisation nowadays because of competetive pressures and to meet the current customer needs. According to (Gilley, 2005), every four or five years, organisations findings planning to undertake major organisational changes and atleast once a year to undertake moderate organisational change. So change management is inevitable in every organisations to successfully manage the process of change.
The induction of this module started with the justification for the need of IT professionals to know change management. Most of the projects related to Information Technology failed due to various reasons in which one would be due to poor change management. According to (Burnes, 2009) Brindle study states that UK government had to admit the failure of its 170 million pounds programme to change the old computer systems that holds the whole country’s National insurance records was a chaos that collapsed the system and leaving the social security number into agitation. According to (Burnes,2009) Done and Willman stated that the main reason for the BA’s Terminal 5 debacle was the failure of its cutting-edge computerized baggage handling system. According to (CMSI Lectures, 2010, Week 1, Slide 11), the role of the IT professionals would be working in a team with other professionals, designing the system which other people will use, expecting how they will use the system and explaining the users how to use the system to their maximum potential. A change management process involves all the above mentioned roles of an IT professional. These points provided me a complete justification and understanding of the need of change management for a person like me who is an IT professional.
The following week I learned about different type of systems and different types of implementations involved in an IT project, other considerations for an implementation, the reason for the implementation and the process of implementation. The different kinds of systems are software such as applications and desktop, hardware system and infrastructure systems such as buildings and network. The facts that should be consider while implementing a system are the level of knowledge in the system, technology, the level of importance with the system and people, whether it is in sourced/outsourced and using the maturity models. According to (Okrent & Vokurka, 2004), there are three types of implementation 1) Pilot implementation in which the prioritized functional area which gives the most benefits is implemented first 2) Parallel implementation in which the change is tested in both old and new systems parallel and 3) Big bang implementation in which the data is migrated from old system to the new system all at once which is the most risky implementation.
The big bang implementation is considered as most risky implementation since most of the projects implemented this way fails. For example, Heathrow Terminal 5 project was implemented using Big bang implementation. The cutting-edge computerized baggage handler system was considered to be “one of the hardest-working IT systems” as said by BAA and British Airways(BA) before its launch of the system and it didn’t work when it was to work. (Swabey, 2008).
There are different types of change such as reactive and proactive change, incremental and ‘All at once’ change, planned and emergent change. According to (Orlikowski & Hofman, 1997) the different types of change are planned(anticipated), emergent and opportunity-based change. Planned change is the change that is well planned and it happenes as we planned. Emergent change is the change which occurs spontaneously out of some experimentation which is not planned. The opportunity-based change is the change that is not planned but introduced purposefully to meet the opportunities that were not expected.
Some various issues and aspects of change management can be illustrated with a case study: GK Printers Limited
GK Printers Limited is a small printing business established after the Second World War.It is a family business in which the current managing director’s father established the business. The company was involved in printing jobs along with producing publicity catlogues for local companies, business cards and stationeries. The business went down due to various reasons such as recession, no computerised printing techniques and no graphics designed printing. This made the managing director to form some strategy along with the printing manager in which the first phase was to subcontract the printing works with graphical design instead of investing more money in new equipments. The company grew very well and they had a good profit and bought new equipments. In 1989, due to its growth in business, it was complicated to manage printing, designing and managing the subcontracting activities all together. The second phase of planned change was to manage company’s costing system, controlling paperwork and production scheduling. After many discussion, the company planned to install Computer Based System(CBS) and it took two years completely to install the working system after purchasing hardwares and refining the softwares according to the company’s requirement. Training were provided to the users and also some managers to use the system effectively. The company had a growth again with their successful installation of CBS and they managed the changes that happened in their organisation. All the changes were in organisation and there were no change in the managerial behaviour of the organisation. The problem again aroused since the customers wants the company to reduce the cost of printing due to recession and they were giving smaller orders. This made GK to think about their survival. Since they were getting only smaller orders, their production cost remained the same and if they want to reduce the price to retain the customers, they will not have any profits. To find a solution, the managing director approached the marketing and design manager to come up with the problems and solutions. The manager came up with the problems and suggested to increase the design business by employing more design staffs. The senior staffs didn’t agree and there were no decisions taken after the meeting. This made the managing director to consider and he approached a team builder to organise the teams inside the company. The team builder came up with a report that all the managers in the company are working and fully committed for the company’s success and the negative point was the way the managing director approach for solutions. He made decisions himself or to consult only with one manager to make up with the decisions. The managing director was upset with this shock and he said he always wanted a team work in the company and henceforth all the decisions will be taken by consulting everyone in the management. This made the managers happy and they were asked to come up with solutions, and after six months, GK met all their customer requirements with the solutions the team came up with and there was a considerable growth in the business. The company also developed the business of designing and developing the websites for its customers in which this business was an accidental development and the managing director created a separate department for this business which become the most profitable and fastest growing part of GK. (Burnes, 2009:383-395)
According to my personal point of view on the above discussed case study, the organisation had three phase of change which means this is a phased implementation. Even though the strategies were not planned and it emerged due to the problems, the approach to the change was planned rather than emergent approach. In the first two phase of changes, the company had changes in the organisation but not in the behavioural which led to some failures such as poor coordination and cooperation between the teams and managers and also the fighting for the position between managers. These led the company for the third phase of change which was the behavioural change in which all the members of the organisation understood and cooperated to work together and also the managin director decided to take decisions after discussing with the appropiate teams.
The human implications of the change process can be noted in the above case study. When GK want to change their manual system to computerized system, the workers themselves suggested some companies to GK to discuss about the CBS system. The managing director gave the responsiblities of CBS system to the group of people who were the students analysing GK’s requirements to install the systems and write softwares for the system. All the organisation changes that were made in the first two phases and the behavioural change that were made in the third phase were accepted by the individuals in the organisation. According to (Burnes, 2004) Lewin was interested to analyze the origins for change and he wants to understand why people dislike change. Lewin’s theories includes about the planned change embarked by the organization and unintended change that happens suddenly due to some contingencies, the three stage model (Unfreeze-movement-refreeze) and models of changes. But in this case study, the organisation has no individuals who resisted change.
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According to (CMSI Lectures, 2010, Week 4, Slide 16) Mintzberg’s definition of strategy as five ‘P’ s’ can be applied on this case study as a prescriptive stream since the strategy preceds change and implementation flows from the strategic plan. Some of the plans involved in the GK’s strategy was to make the manual systems computerized, meet the customer requirements and build a good team in the organisation. Some of the ploys involved were to provide customers with graphical design service and to satisfy all kind of customer needs.The position of GK’s place in the market is high and they are one of the best among in providing creative website development for the customers.
In contrast to the planned approach, the example of Volvo’s approach which is one the leading Swedish motor vehicle manufacturer to reorganising vehicle production from the traditional methods of car assembly can be taken as an approach to change as emergent. The decisions are based from the workers of the company and it is completely based on the group work in which Volvo’s approach to change is unique in its way in which it considers human-centered approach to work.
A consultant is a person who is having skills that are different or unique and they have different perspective on an issue. The reasons for using this consultancy approach includes requirement of extra staff resources, on a temporary basis, need for expert help and knowledge to deal some situations, look differently about a particular situation and for outside opinion and disinterested information. (Nachimuthu, 23 November 2010). In the above case study, since no one in the organisation were aware of the changes to be brought, the managing director approached a lecturer at a polytechnic who is the friend of printing manager, in which the lecture suggested one of his student studying business can act as a consultant for the company’s improvements. The student worked as a consultant, studied the company for two months and produced a report of the organisations’s finding to the managing director and the printing manager which was the basis for the change in the organisation.
Management involves doing things right whereas leadership involves doing the right things. Management is about maintaining stability and leadership is about bringing the change. Management processes focus on the present and leadership processes focus on the future. Management processes involves implementing policies and procedures whereas leadership processes involves creating a culture based on shared values. Management processes uses the power of their position and leadership processes uses the personal power. Leadership roles get strengths with different personality types. (CMSI Lectures, 2010, Week 7, Slide 21). For example, the case study that I was using in the seminar about the Shell Company fostering its new level of individual power can be taken. The leadership skills and personality types of Chris Knight were discussed. The case study explains the strategies followed by Knight. Chris knight was a good leader with skills such as motivation, knowledge of the business and ability to manage the change and system implementations that turn around the growth of Shell. (CMSI Seminars, 2010, Week 7)
Whether if it is planned or emergent approach to change, if it is at individual, group or organisation level change, or incremental or continuos change, there should be one person to manage the change and take responsibility of the change. Change agent is the one who takes that responsibility who can be a managers, internal or external consultants or it can be a team. (Burnes, 2004) states that ‘Expect the unexpected’ might be the motto of most change agents since the change agents should be capable of dealing with the unexpected.If I was an agent of change in the Heathrow Terminal 5 project, I would have tested the computerized baggage system with more load and would have given training to all staffs in how to get to the parking area and especially how to handle the baggage system. I would have not compromised on testing as the chief executive of BA did on the Terminal 5 project. (Massey, 2008).
It can be concluded from the above discussion on various issues of change, its implication on human as an individual and groups within an organisation, the different types of approaches to change, the need of consultants and importance of leadership that the knowledge of change management is inevitable in any organisation for a successful system implementation in which the GK case study is an example. The need of change management, its relationship with systems implementation and its importance in Information Technology is justified from the above discussions.
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