Cloud computing is offering faster, more agile, and less costly solutions that have IT departments across the industry facing change on every front.
So, what does the future hold for service managers who are looking to find their way in a digitally transforming industry?
“In the old world, IT service management was very much focused only on technology. We thought about servers on premises, data centers, operations, processes, and infrastructure. Now, IT is focused on delivering end-to-end services from the cloud,” says Kym Lukosky, a senior program manager for the modern workplace in Microsoft Core Services Engineering (CSE, formerly Microsoft IT).
“Modern service managers don’t just deploy technology, they are thinking about the change management steps needed to get people to use new technology to kickstart their businesses,” Lukosky says. “They need to focus on changing end user behaviors and helping their users use new tools and processes to drive business outcomes and increase productivity.”
Internally at Microsoft, we deploy many different updates and changes to Office 365. Our service managers are constantly managing change. More and more, service managers agree they need a structured, well thought out change management methodology to help achieve widescale adoption and healthy usage.
No matter which change management methodology you go with (there are many to choose from), there are four common things you should try to accomplish:
1. Build awareness around the change you want
Service managers need to make sure everyone is aware of the change you want to bring—people can’t change if they’re not aware of what you want. The most effective way to get your users to understand why change is happening is to get an executive sponsor to explain it to the organization and to have them show enthusiasm for the change. Service managers may need to lead the effort to find an executive sponsor, create their communications plan, and hammer home how vital it is to lead the charge.
Tip: Get your executive sponsor to communicate the “why the change is important to your business” message in an email, meeting, or internal social channel.
2. Seek personal commitment to change
Assess where resistance might come, and actively forestall that by asking each user to make a personal commitment to embrace the change. You should also show them very directly what they will get out of it—people will commit once they understand what’s in it for them. Managers are key to communicating this message so ask them to be involved in messaging change to their employees.
Tip: Enlist front-line managers to help your users understand how getting behind a new technology or feature will help them do their jobs, be more effective, and drive positive business outcomes.
3. Craft readiness assessments and plans
Plan what trainings and information will be needed to get people onboard. Assess your organization and individual needs first so you can tailor information and training plans that meet the needs of your assessments. We think about what skills, knowledge, and behaviors are needed to help people make the change.
Tip: Establish awareness, personally commit, and lockdown your readiness plan before you deploy to get results quickly.
4. Reinforce the change
Celebrating success and reinforcing change helps increase the likelihood that it will be sustained and creates an important muscle memory in an organization. You can reinforce change by helping users celebrate success, giving recognition and rewards that help sustain change, and redirecting users if they are not making change successfully.
Tip: Think about creating a champion program across your organization. These visible mentors can serve as both technology and behavior re-enforcers after deployment.
As a final point, Lukosky believes that communication should happen at each of the four steps. “Successful service managers need to develop a communications plan that shares the right message at the right time to the right audience,” she says. “People need to hear a message five to seven times for it to sink in, so messages should be delivered in a variety of ways. This means doing more than blasting out group emails—service managers need to look at all channels and create an appropriate, reinforcing message for each.”
Change management works best when supported by a structured methodology that aligns organizations, increases change adoption, and accelerates business outcomes around change, Lukosky says. Every service manager can benefit by bringing change management techniques to their organization.
Interested in finding out more? Read the technical case study “From systems to people: rethinking service management” to learn about the different ways Microsoft service managers are rethinking how to deliver an end-to-end service.