Donald Reifer here. Many firms are currently searching for ways to save money and cut cycle time in these times of economic contraction. To achieve these ends, many are trying to find ways to cut their costs and spur productivity growth. For example, some are simplifying their software development processes while others are out-sourcing work to try to realize such benefits. But, any change, no matter how trivial, can have adverse effects especially when the staff is not properly prepared and trained to accept it. Take something as petty as introducing a new trouble report. While the goal may be to simplify and reduce the effort associated with collecting defect data, the effort associated with training and bringing people up to speed so that they can effectively use it may diminish the anticipated returns on investment. Fred Brooks in his classic book The Mythical Man-Month (Addison-Wesley, 1975) summarizes the phenomenon when he says that adding people sometimes makes a project later because staff doing productive work has to be reassigned to train the new hires. The lesson learned is that change, no matter how trivial, must be managed carefully. Else, the anticipated results may not be realized.
My new book Software Change Management: Case Studies and Practical Advice (Microsoft Press, 2012) tries to arm its readers with the insights needed to manage change and achieve the benefits they are seeking. It does this by putting the reader in the driver’s seat as it tours ten realistic case studies which examine what can happen when embracing change. Looking at the cases, readers see a number of common themes which they can address in order to increase their chances of success. Take a hypothetical organization that is trying to do more with less by automating its regression testing processes. To do this, they must introduce new processes and tools into a test organization that is understaffed and under the gun to get their product releases to their clients according to aggressive schedules. The three key questions that need to be answered include, but are not limited to, the following:
Is your organization ready for the change?
Are the changes that you are making realizing their potential?
Are you ready to declare success and move on?
These pointers summarize some of the advice offered to those trying to embrace new ways of doing business. I encourage those interested in learning more to read my book’s case studies. If you need insight into the cases, I suggest that you download my Instructor’s Manual. This document highlights key points in each of the cases and summarizes lessons learned.
Happy New Year, everyone.