We’re all familiar with the term disruption. Most of the time it’s a negative experience, but sometimes it brings about much-needed change. For those of us in the IT space, disruption generally means a journey to digital transformation. I use the word journey because that’s exactly what it is—you start in one place and through incremental changes, whether to your infrastructure or your workforce, you end up someplace else.

Too often, managing this process is referred to as change management, but I’m here to tell you that is incorrect. Simply put, journey management is not change management. It involves more than just training. Journey management is a strategy in how you take employees from one position of knowledge to another position of knowledge. It’s about ensuring that the journey is as quick as possible, that it doesn’t degrade much during the changes, and that adoption results in a new performance level that’s also sustainable.

Our job as IS/IT professionals is not to deliver applications. It is instead to ensure sustainable adoption of the solutions. This applies not only to the application and technology to enable it, but also the processes and talent that will use and maintain the solution. And the way you get there is through journey management.

IT and Business Teams Working Together on Journey Management

Traditionally, the IS/IT team is tasked with delivering a solution and making sure it runs in the background, while the accountability for proper utilization of the solution usually sits within a business unit function. However, when we think about a modern IS/IT organization, we need to understand that our job is not done after we deliver the solution. We must also work to ensure that there is a sustainable process in place so that the business function is properly using the solution. If they’re not, it’s because we didn’t approach the journey management properly.

As we build more modern IS/IT teams, we should look for journey management to be a skill set within the team. That skill set involves the ability to manage and execute, while also understanding adult learning and behavioral change.

It used to be that each business function was responsible for its own processes. But when an organization undergoes a digital transformation where one business function directly affects another, someone needs to be accountable for not only relaying that message, but also making sure it is understood and capable of identifying where there are gaps. That is all part of journey management, and I believe the responsibility of the IS/IT department. Once that is in place, then it is up to both the IS/IT and business function teams to work together to ensure it is sustained. The balance is that the IS/IT team is the one that delivers the solution, puts the programs in place to make sure it is being used properly, and the business function should be responsible for actually executing on that plan, operating the solution, and making sure resources are available to train their teams, the key users.

Taking the Steps to Start Your Journey Management

As many organizations today are looking to downsize or shift priorities because of this global pandemic, it’s critical to think strategically in how you approach journey management. The first thing to consider is that journey management is not a role, it’s a skill set. The second thing to keep in mind is that journey management is also not equivalent to a Center of Excellence, as the focus of a CoE is on software and hardware.

When you’re thinking about journey management, do not approach it in terms of creating something new, but rather as a process you integrate within your existing projects and workforce. The IT/IS team should be accountable for getting the ball rolling, but everyone is involved in keeping the momentum.

If you’re new to this concept, run an experiment where you bring in someone who is really knowledgeable about how journey management works. Have them offer guidance and best practices with a smaller project you are currently working on. Learn from them and be willing to change accordingly going forward with future projects.

Follow the Journey Every Step of The Way

At the end of the day, journey management is an end-to-end process much like the systems you run. The difference here is that the goal is to create a process where the people tasked with delivering on the systems have an understanding of how to do so.

Part of the role of journey management is to minimize a decrease of productivity due to lack of knowledge. It’s to ensure your organization is functioning at its best, that your systems are being fully utilized, and that your workforce is capable of sustaining both.

As we have all learned this year, the key to remain successful lies in the ability to be flexible and agile. And the best way to remain agile is to fully understand the journey you’ve taken from one point to the other, and to know how to quickly change processes while also making sure those changes are being adopted. Journey management is a mindset every organization should adopt and implement.

If you have a question or suggestions, please reach out to undercovercio@asug.com. If you’re an executive and an ASUG member, join us for our Executive Exchange Virtual Summit: Looking Forward on Nov. 18, 2020.

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