Stakeholder management key for IT project success, say experts

Educating end-users about the benefits of new IT systems before rollout can help muster support for new technology and reduce resistance when managing change, The British Airports Authority said this week.

Educating end-users about the benefits of new IT systems before rollout can help muster support for new technology and reduce resistance when managing change, The British Airports Authority said this week.

When firms increase their own use of technology, it can take years for that technology to win over disinterested or uninformed areas in the company, slowing delivery of innovative capabilities for business and new revenue, The British Airports Authority (BAA) warned.

Presenting at the IT Directors' forum, Tom Everett, communications consultant working on the Terminal Five project, said that handling stakeholder expectations is essential.

 CTOs needed to measure the potential success of new systems before installation by using two metrics: the level of current support for change, and the level of understanding amongst stakeholders about what the changes mean for them, he said.

“If understanding and support is low, it is likely the IT project will be unsuccessful – a ‘dead duck’. If support is low but understanding is high, then IT managers may have to deal with opposition groups from within the company - ‘project saboteurs’. If understanding is low but support is high, then the project lacks direction and might not deliver its intended benefits.”

To deliver both high awareness and support, Everett said that managers should identify key stakeholders, define their current problems, and map how the functionality of a new IT system will improve on these aspects.

Heathrow, with 67 million passengers a year and thousands of operational staff is home to some 90 different airlines and Europe’s largest engineering and IT projects, Terminal Five. Within this environment, Everett said that the execution of change is complex. “One of the biggest challenges for companies remains to inspire and motivate people in different departments to support IT change, not oppose it.”

Clifford Ferguson, managing partner at Rainmakers, a management development consultancy said that IT workers know that the benefits of new technologies are not often communicated well enough to other areas of the business – which is a problem, since IT has the role of enabling other departments in the company.

Professor Stephane Garelli, of the International Institute for Management Development, one of the largest business schools, said that CIOs and CTOs were not responsible for just planning future IT systems; they were responsible for making sure the system is installed, and managing change with different departments was central to this. 

He said that to remain competitive in today’s market not only requires managing the efficiency of new IT systems, but also the management of change while they are being developed and installed. “This can not be done in isolation.  Successful change management in IT is an integrated process.” 

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The International Institute for Management Development >>

IT Directors' forum >>

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