In both the media and trade press, much has been written about the impact of the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act. Entire trade conferences were created and executed based on this singular topic. Many of the articles and discussions have focused on the unique mechanics regarding how funding provided by the Act will be disbursed to qualified projects, in addition to how the fund itself will be run. Others have emphasized the importance of transitioning off legacy technology and onto the latest available technologies, which in many cases, happens to be a subtle marketing pitch by vendors for their own technology offerings (just read the small print at the bottom of trade press articles about who the author is). However, in all these discussions about leaving old technology behind, there is a key topic that almost no one is covering: organizational change management.
As some may already know, organizational change management at a high level is getting your team, end-users, and/or agency to accept the changes you are actively undertaking into daily operations. The fact that organizational change management is being overlooked is itself nothing new. In reality few projects give organizational change management efforts the attention it deserves. In many cases change activities are limited to an excerpt in a daily e-mail blast, or maybe placement of an internal billboard posted throughout the agency. As a result of this, many projects actually fail to achieve their projected outcomes because the organization simply does not fully accept the change or does so only after a highly extended timeframe. This common outcome is directly relevant to MGT Act efforts because change sits at the center of the Act’s overall objectives.
To be truly successful, organizational change management needs to be incorporated into MGT Act funded projects because very few of the envisioned technological changes will be a straightforward decommission and replacement effort. When legacy technology is retired, the replacement offering will almost certainly require organizational and business process changes, large and small. In many cases, the replacement will be an entirely new service offering with a new suite of business processes. In either situation, the implementing team needs to take the time to craft a strong change management approach which includes:
- Identifying and addressing the specific characteristics of different target audiences
- Utilizing multiple communication approaches that the target audiences are receptive to
- Identifying, budgeting for, and addressing training needs
- Adapting to the responses received from the target audiences including reactions to the initial change management activities themselves
By incorporating appropriate levels of organizational change management into MGT Act funded projects, the probabilities of achieving the desired outcomes of the individual efforts and the Act itself will increase proportionally.