Implementing change within an organisation is never easy, particularly when it comes to replacing whole IT systems.
That’s why the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s (DIAC) chief information officer, Bob Correll, relied largely on 'super users' to lead the IT change management in the department's ambitious Systems for People program, begun in 2006.
Dubbed 'Goldies', the users weren’t necessarily tech savvy, but were identified within their local business unit for their enthusiasm, respect among peers and ability to lead the charge in adapting to the role-based portals and new business processes resulting from the program.
“You spot those sort of people who are going to be effective leaders of change in the organisation and they’ve become incredibly important to us,” Correll told attendees at the CIO Summit 2010 last week.
“If we lose our Goldies we’re in big trouble, because if we haven’t got them on side, how are we going to have a hope of getting the rest of the organisation?”
The four-year, $500 million Systems for People program began after what Correll described as a “very bad year for the immigration department”, and involved the implementation of 12 role-based portals to eventually replace the department’s legacy systems and business processes.
The rollout of the last portal - a single client view for easier processing of visas - has been delayed until “a touch later” due to the announcement of the Federal election, due to be held on August 21.
Systems for People has become the “first wave” of a transformational change within the department, and is set to be followed by a second, five-year change process to begin this year once the last portal has been implemented.
According to Correll, Systems for People involves “change management on a grand scale, significantly addressing the views of our stakeholders and perceptions of the organisation”.
To achieve this, Goldies were given advanced access to new IT systems for a period of up to two months ahead of a wider rollout, with training around systems scaled up as they and other users progressively became comfortable.
“We start with our Goldies, build up our Goldies, then start spreading it with the help of our Goldies at the local level, they become our change agents in the field,” Correll told the summit.
Feedback from DIAC employees found that most were happy with the Systems for People changes, provided relevant departments engaged with them early and didn’t involve marketing spin to push objectives.
While the Goldie club was exclusive in some respects, Correll said he hoped to reach a ratio of one Goldie to each 10 new users within the department.