IT politics

With IT reaching every part of a company, IT implementations need collaborative work teams. These teams must consider the political nature of an organization and the influence employees, business partners, shareholders and even customers wield on the outcome of IT projects. Without a collaborative perspective, IT may find disgruntled employees standing in the way of a project’s success. As a result, CIOs will spend their valuable time dealing with the politics of execution. With some advanced planning, these politics and the time spent to deal with them can be minimized.

When establishing a collaborative work team, the involvement of every stakeholder is an absolute necessity. A collaborative work team can develop strategies that underscore the multifaceted and complex nature of stakeholder needs by analysing an organization’s fitness landscape, a process that looks at an organization’s ability to adapt to change.

To evaluate an organization’s fitness landscape, team members need to look at the relationships and the value that each stakeholder brings to a project. Stakeholders typically include employees, project partners, customers, shareholders, vendors, partner companies and executives.

The first phase in evaluating the fitness landscape involves reviewing the business plan, assessing company culture, identifying the work groups affected by a technology implementation and interviewing representatives of a project’s identified stakeholder groups. The second phase is a workshop assessment with stakeholders to explore their needs and roles. If the workshop is conducted with honesty, constructive working relationships among stakeholders will emerge.

While some CIOs may not be comfortable with the reflective nature of this exercise, it’s much easier to develop a comprehensive implementation strategy that delivers value for each stakeholder group after evaluating an organization’s fitness landscape. As the implementation begins, the work team can use the information gained in the planning process to defuse political situations and map a smoother path to completion.

Evaluating the fitness landscape will bring the right people together to complete the job and ensure its acceptance among employees. It doesn’t cost a lot of money or time to consider the people factor in an implementation process, and the payoffs can be enormous: reduced turnover, increased productivity, improved morale, optimized technology and a culture that is able to manage change positively.

Jim Prebil is managing director of e-business, and Tom Colbert is a consultant at Born, an e-business consultancy based in Minnetonka, Minn.