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Controlling change

The dynamics of modern work processes and atmospheres as well as an ever-changing competitive environment force companies to continuously change with them. Strategies must be reassessed by management and undergo ongoing adjustments; employees are expected to quickly and flexibly adapt to everyday business. Therefore efficient change management is more than just a necessary tool for implementing restructuring procedures. It must take place, first and foremost, in the minds of the employees.

The significance of successful change management was only recently highlighted by a study conducted by IBM Global Business Services. During the course of the study, it was determined that it is primarily “changing the way of thinking” that stands in the way of effecting successful changes. 65% of the 220 Project and Change Managers surveyed agreed with this statement. Any company wishing to implement changes must not only convince colleagues, employees and supervisors using information, but – more than that – it is a matter of gaining their trust to make the change. According to the IBM study, in order to gain this trust, it is important for management to communicate openly and honestly and for employees to be directly involved in the change processes. Management’s unconditional support of the change is, of course, crucial here.

However, changes are not only initiated from management levels. Today each employee ultimately assumes the responsibility of continuously adapting his/her own work to new conditions. This is particularly noticeable in IT, e.g. in software and application development. For example, demands are constantly changing over the course of projects. Because of these changes, the developer is responsible for constantly revising and, if necessary, also discarding popular ideas. In making changes, it is also the supervisors who are required to demand and promote the willingness and the ability to change, to allow room for new ideas and not to hold employees back.

At the same time, it is important to remember that the ability to change is not only an issue to be taken up by management and personnel management. The employees’ technical equipment must also be right – it must be possible to implement change. When developing web applications, this primarily means that a straightforward and flexible development language is needed. When someone makes a mountain out of a molehill, it is usually difficult for him to get from one mountain to the next. IT decisions are therefore often more than purely technical changes. For this reason, it is recommended that the IT department work closely with Management and with the HR department when possible. In this way, it is possible to ensure that a company is and will remain ready for the change.

In the study published by IBM, a very helpful checklist has been provided for assessing one’s own project situation. The study can be found online in German at http://www-05.ibm.com/de/pressroom/downloads/mcw_2007.pdf.