How New Technology Invites Chaos

At the root of most “Shadow IT” efforts are good intentions. It’s not uncommon to get excited about discovering a new productivity tool that will help the enterprise perform more efficiently, or accomplish very specific tasks or goals. It is a good thing to bring tools to people to assist them in their job. When I deployed SharePoint for the first time while working with a customer to help them better connect their employees across multiple locations, it was fun to watch the rapid adoption — and the innovation and teaming that happened as a result.

The thing to keep in mind with any new tool introduction is that it brings with it change – and often multi-faceted change. Some of these changes include:

  • Organizational — Processes, policies and procedures will most likely be affected by introduction of a new tool. These adjustments should be analyzed and planned for in the implementation.
  • Infrastructure — New hardware, software and/or services  will most likely be required. This affects budgets, and needs to be accounted for to ensure all pieces are factored in to make sure nothing is missed – especially in a phased approach to deployment. We don’t want to add ‘surprise’ to ‘change’ if it’s not necessary!
  • Business Strategy — How will this new tool affect the overall strategy and goals of the business? Nothing should be introduced into an ecosystem that does not strive toward a planned goal or objective for the business. This is where organizations can easily hemorrhage in budget, profit and efficiency.
  • Cultural — Individuals can view these tools as ‘just another thing to learn’ and not recognize the long-term value. How are the masses accounted for in this change? Miss this mark and despite the best of intentions, a deployment can become a grand failure.

In most technology deployments, the launch of a new tool or productivity solution often originates within the IT department — but this is changing very quickly, as business users are growing more confident in their ability to find and acquire new technologies. The rise of the “citizen developer” is a real movement within the modern workplace. Regardless of where the solution originates, when planning begins, it can be very energetic. Excitement abounds with getting new gear and new software, but along with setting up new infrastructure, determining compliance and governance steps, and aligning with existing and defining new processes, the chaos is inevitable. But with proper planning, there are steps you can take to manage the chaos.

Over the next several weeks I’ll be writing a series on modern business process planning and design, and on concepts surrounding change management. Watch for updates, as well as interviews via the CollabTalk YouTube channel and podcast.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Apps & Services MVP, and the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Lehi, Utah, through which he provides fractional-CMO for partners in the Microsoft ecosystem.