29 Replies Latest reply on Apr 3, 2015 7:13 PM by weiss

    Why are I.T. People afraid of change?

    optwpierce

      Two years ago, we rolled out the Web Help Desk system to replace our Home built SharePoint system in our main office.  Although the SharePoint system worked (for he most part) it was not a professional looking or feeling system.  Web Help desk brought that to us.  However, it was a tough fight. Every time I turned around, the developer of the SharePoint site was pointing out something that Web Help Desk did not do (although, their system would not perform these functions either).  The final straw happen to be when the SharePoint System stopped sending emails to the clients or the techs.

      We are now upgrading our Web Help Desk to a Global system and are replacing another SharePoint system with Web Help Desk from a different office.  Again, I am again facing the developer who does not want to shut down their system.  This time, it is not only functionality (which again is things that their previous system never did) but they also want their own version for their users.

      Why is it so difficult to get Information Technology. people to change?  As Information Technology engineers, we know that technology changes every couple of years.  Why hang on to technology that is 5 or 10 years old?  Every time I ask this question, I get the same answer.  "Because it works" or "If it is not broken, we don't need to fix it".  However, that thinking has now limited you to technology that is multiple years old.  What is broken is efficiency.  If I can perform the same function that was build 5 years ago and I can do it 20% faster, doesn't that mean that it is broken?  As Information Technology professionals, we should be embracing new technology, not avoiding it.  Wondering what other people think?

        • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
          solaradmin

          I get this with our monitoring tools as well.

           

          I think its because the system owners have an attachment to their systems. You are basically saying their kids aren't as good as yours.

           

          So now your challenge will be getting those sys admins to use the new ticketing tool.

          • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
            deverts

            Hey, now...don't be using blanket statements lumping us all together in that category.   I can see the point your developers are trying to make, they put a lot of time and work into their setup/system and they are proud of it; and I've had that same argument with peers and coworkers (usually developers). But as a network guy, I'm not anti-change, but I'm anti-change for the sake of change. If it ain't broke, don't fix it....unless it makes sense too. In your example above, if you are only changing things to make them look pretty, that doesn't make sense to me, and you are probably ready for a management promotion (kidding). If, however, you are bringing new functionality and tools to the team, or you are consolidating multiples tools to one collaboration platform...I'm on board.

             

            I embrace tech when and where it makes sense...but it has to make sense for the team and company. "Pet projects" are a pet peeve!

             

            But that's just my opinion...and I have LOTS of opinions.

            D

              • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                optwpierce

                I understand your statement about making it "look pretty".  However, even making it look pretty can have advantages that equate to ROI.  For example, Let say that there are two Ticketing systems that you are looking at.  First one is a great back end system that performs advance monitoring and reporting functions, but the front end looks confusing and is not "client friendly" due to data overload.  Second system does not have all of the bells and whistles but it has a more user friendly front end and is "Pretty" for the clients to use.  Your roll out of the second option will be a more successful roll-out as the users will be more likely to use the system.  If you have to force the users to use a system that is difficult to use, they will either not use it or look for ways around the system (like calling technicians directly).

                  • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                    deverts

                    Oh, I'm absolutely not saying that "pretty" doesn't have it's place and advantage. But, if "pretty" doesn't also perform, then you are back to making changes for the sake of making changes...and that has no ROI. So, I agree with you, there is no reason not to find a solution that is fancy...but it has to perform well. All too many times I've had managers "produce" a piece of software and tell me to implement it because it "looks awesome" and "works great" (in the lab during the demo). And then they want to know why I can make it work in this environment.

                     

                    It's a balancing act between function and useability. Tying that back to the original statements...if the new solution makes sense, and is not change for the sake of change, I'm on board. But to your initial point about your developers, I can understand pride and ego getting in the way. Not that I have either of those issues, I'm the most opinionated, humble individual I know. HAHA

                     

                    D

                • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                  alexslv

                  Nice one I have two points:

                   

                  1. Nothing is wrong with your SharePoint Engineers, I will clean on it...

                  2. I was looking for someone to help with WHD advise, experience and best practises from the user perspective - someone who did it and who prod of his/her work. Would you be willing to assist?

                   

                  Thank you,

                  Alex

                  • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                    rharland2012

                    Are these situations really specific to IT, or is more about the natural human reaction of someone wanting to protect their job? If I'm the Sharepoint guy/girl and someone else comes in with some packaged solution, it's not a huge leap to imagine said Sharepoint guy/girl will feel threatened from an value/employment perspective - especially if they don't contribute significant value elsewhere in the business.

                    IT people seem to be quite similar to many other people in terms of change resistance. Sometimes I think that working in a process that is comfortable and efficient *enough* is very good for some people in the workplace.

                    I've met both kinds - people who will change for change's sake and wonder why they never really refine their workflows, and others who will weep if you take away Server 2k3.

                    Just my 2c.

                    • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                      raingeek

                      I've been on both sides of that. One things to consider is that IT constantly deals with broken things - it's part of our job, right? If it's broken or not working we roll up our sleeves and get to work. At the same time we don't want to be dealing with broken tools, that takes away from our efficiency and confidence. If we have a tool and we know how it works and all its quirks - even if its not perfect it is a known factor and doesn't introduce more variables or stress into our day.

                       

                      I know my battered old laptop is three years old and I could get a new one... but dammit that thing boots up faithfully every day, it has everything I need and it NEVER GIVES ME A PROBLEM. I trust in it, and it lets me concentrate my energies on my work that needs to get done.

                       

                      Sometimes it just takes time to build up that trust in a new tool or process.

                      • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                        cahunt

                        We are far past the days of it's not broken if no one complains. We are proactive now, not reactive.

                         

                        Even with the use of our own systems we have to understand when a new option creates a better working experience, and be willing to adapt.

                        • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?

                          I believe some sys admins are afraid of change becos they are not well vested or have little knowledge of products they handle. If you handle a product and you really understand what to do when a new upgrade comes up, then I do not see the need for fear.

                          Some others are just plain lazy and the idea that an upgrade would require them to do additional work plus enlighten users, makes them shy away from change.

                            • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                              aidanlinz

                              It's a lot harder to pin blame on a downtime event on the absence of action, whereas it's very easy to blame a downtime event on the presence of an action--even if that action is entirely unrelated.

                               

                              To quote a former boss in reference to the 9 year old primary intranet fileserver, "Things don't just work one day and not the next, someone must have done something."

                               

                              In reality, the root cause was the 9 years since last hardware purchase--but try proving that.

                               

                              IT is not well understood by the majority of employees in the majority of companies, and people fear what they don't understand. I.T. people only fear change because they fear being blamed for any and every problem that occurs after a change is made.

                               

                              There's a reason "Correlation != causation" is a oft-used phrase--the concept is often not understood or quickly forgotten.

                               

                              That's my theory, at least.

                            • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                              gcp
                              1. You are shrinking their Empire - they control sharepoint, but not the new system.
                              2. You should have 'sold' it to their management first so that they mandate the new software, not you. (Shift the blame)
                              3. For any new software, there is a learning curve, which leads to -
                              4. There is always resistance to change - human nature.
                              • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                                bluefunelemental

                                I think internalizing some of the recent devops strategies like minimum viable product and test,pivot,re-test will both help you create a service more reflective of your colleagues needs and evolve quicker then their system.

                                At the end of the day - if your product is better and has provided new value more recently you'll likely be able to convince them to use it - or make their reluctance look more like obstinance.

                                • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                                  nhkelley

                                  Why are I.T. People afraid of change? My simple answer is that we are creatures of habit. Once we get familiar with a product, application, or system, we resist any change that may require us to do something different.  It is very comfortable and convenient to flow with familiarity than to be challenged with changes. For example, how many I.T. professionals are willing to go through the trouble of learning, re-educating, or training on a new (or upgraded) system that you already mastered? Again, (as you already stated) the "If its not broke, why fix it?" mindset is the prevailing attitude within the I.T community. I agree that resistance to change can get very frustrating despite repeated "clear cut facts" to the contrary.

                                  • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                                    tomiannelli

                                    I think the original question is flawed. Fear is not a factor. The thought of all the extra work at supporting and maintaining a new system, the lack of training on a new technology, the end user training in the use of new technology, all play into a reservation about deploying new technology without a clear vision of the advantages a new system brings. All too often people do not even understand the capabilities of the system they have already. They see the new "ooo shiny" technology and believe it is better, when they have not even tapped into the capabilities of what they own. So a business will spend money on something new rather than invest in what they own and is already very capable. There have been several experiences over my career where we implemented a technology then later someone else looks at it and says, we need to have this new feature so let us buy this new technology. Not bothering to ask if you could do that with what you already have. Often folks don't appreciate the limitations of a current technology are because of the choices made at the time of implementation. I also have seen folks ignore the fact that people who implemented the "old" technology understand its short comings very well and when they look at a new system they are going to ask questions like,"If this is such a great thing why doesn't it do this or that?" That isn't fear that is sometimes the voice of experience. Were the developers asked for their input on selecting the new system or was it simply thrust upon them?

                                     

                                    Then again it could simply be that for old technologists, "Everything Old is new again." Having enough experiences where the supposed new thing was going to bring about great changes and never seeing them realized because the culture didn't change with the technology can make one slightly jaded towards new technology.

                                     

                                    Change is good, I love it. If I had a huge budget and the technical staff to deal with it then bring on the new technology. However, budgets are limited and staffing is really reduced so new technology brings on a high cost and increases the risk of business disruptions simply because you can not go deep enough with understanding the new technology.

                                    • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?

                                      Great discussion thread! Enjoying the comments from the community as well.

                                       

                                      New technology always drags along the associated inertia to adoption. It could be due to the "if it ain't broke, do go around fixing it," the "don't have resources (time/money/people) to do it," and the "don't mess with my livelihood" mindsets, which boils down to the people and their process and not the technology itself. When virtualization with all of its benefits was first taking root, there were plenty of IT domain silos who resisted and delayed the inevitable in their organizations. Now virtualization is a given in nearly all data centers because of its ROI. Plus, virtualization didn't displaced these IT pros with specialized domain expertise. It merely re-purposed them and their expertise. And it also provided many opportunities to folks like myself for advancement in our careers.

                                       

                                      Speaking of ROI, I like how you surface this aspect because it is often either ignored or misunderstood by IT pros. But with external pressure from IT outsourcing and IT-as-a-Service providers, it can no longer be left alone. Think chargeback and showback. IT departments and pros need to be more effective and efficient because it's now easier to compare the services that they deliver to external alternatives.

                                       

                                      We, as IT pros, will always have to deal with change management, especially the speed and scale of changes.

                                        • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                                          nhkelley

                                          I agree that this is a great topic of discussion. I want to focus on one key element stated by Kong Yang which is Change Management.  Here is a definition of Change Management from a Project Management perspective: "Change management is a systematic approach to dealing with change, both from the perspective of an organization and on the individual level. A somewhat ambiguous term, change management has at least three different aspects, including: adapting to change, controlling change, and effecting change. A proactive approach to dealing with change is at the core of all three aspects. For an organization, change management means defining and implementing procedures, and/or technologies to deal with changes in the business environment and to profit from changing opportunities." (What is change management? - Definition from WhatIs.com). Here is my question on this topic with everything that has been said to this point. Can the reason why some I.T organizations and individual are resistant to change be directly attributed to management not training or educating workers, customers, and users on why change is needed and good?  Thoughts?

                                            • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?

                                              nhkelley - thank you for your reply and reference to change management's definition.

                                               

                                              Your assessment is correct. Lack of management support and organizational buy-in manifests itself in many forms including inadequate training opportunities for IT pros, uneven expectations when level setting across an organization, and inability to clearly define what success should look like.

                                               

                                              Change management when handled efficiently and effective will lead to disruptive innovation opportunities. And when it's not handled, it will lead to scope creep, adoption inertia, more meetings, and eventual changes especially in IT management.

                                          • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                                            sqlrockstar

                                            This is not just an IT challenge. This is a human challenge.

                                             

                                            People fear what they don't understand. It's that simple. Show them something new, even something familiar, and there is something instinctive that comes out and says "do not like".

                                             

                                            Think about every time iTunes gets a facelift. You've been using it for almost 10 years, but when it changes, you hate it and wish it had just stayed the same.

                                            • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                                              emoore@empireiron.com

                                              I loathe the "It's worked for the last 50 years why change it line"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The fact always is that it's not working it's just you never know better cause you have never tried anything different!

                                               

                                              ...hmmmm.... May still have a few unresolved issues there I think

                                              • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                                                bleggett

                                                Two words:  risk aversion.  I agree with earlier posts about fearing the blame game.  It stinks, but it's the nature of the IT game.  There is a general lack of understanding, both outside of IT and within, of the interaction of various systems, and that fosters mistrust.

                                                • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                                                  tigger2

                                                  Why I don't fight: change

                                                  As a monitoring admin one of my "rules" is "never fall in love with your apps".  I've found as soon as I get good at one I can start doing things most people can't/don't do because it goes "beyond the easy wizard tool" or "it's not on first page of a web search".  As a result, I can make the system do things that are not normally done, but I *can* get it done so it's "do-able" and, well, it's fun to do something deeper than the superficial day-to-day things.

                                                   

                                                  But, as a result: I start to have this emotional attachment to what I did.  All the time and details and such lends a sort of pride to it.  And thus, when someone comes along (always a salesman around somewhere) and says "this is ever so much better" I find myself trying to find out how much of it's "better" and how much of it is marketing fluff and/or empty promises.  Since no one else cares as deeply as I do I come off as a "negative Nancy" because I can point out things that my (our) system can do that theirs cannot do (or as well).  Basically if you're willing to write code in-house you're going to be able to pull off some things that vendors selling "generic" solutions cannot do or do cheaply.

                                                   

                                                  Anyway, all of this discussion almost always leads management/teammates/etc. thinking I'm just protecting my system.  Which I am...which I'm supposed to do (protect the process I guess), however I've found many times that the things I care about the most no one cares about so they don't defend the old stuff....they have a long list of annoyances about the old system and hopes and dreams about the new one.

                                                   

                                                  So: I've found that "not loving my app" is the only solution. .I say: Cool, no problem.  I bring up my points and then let xyz discussions occur as a result of all the people who want to make the decision.  I don't fight too hard because most of "it" doesn't *really* matter.  The reason I "lose my app" mostly is because a vendor is doing about 10 more things my app is not doing (even if not well, even if no one needs or will ever use those things) or it's cheaper/simpler than the old app so it's decided to scrap the old(er) system.  Fine by me: all my work is flushed down the drain....GOOD

                                                   

                                                  The benefit is: I get another app to add to my resume, I get to learn some new stuff, and I get to "trash" a lot of code/configs/system of what usually ends up being a lot of little requirements no one really cared about anyway.  The fresh start is worth it to me.  The long list of annoyances with the new system starts over...

                                                  Why I fight change:

                                                  - Sometimes people want to just take everything over from other people (empire building).  You buy an app...then you find out they bought an app that does the same thing (possibly even the same app).  Management starts to question "functional overlap" and you don't want to lose because there is no reason to give up something you are actively making use of. I don't care too much because I usually have more than just 1 app to manage/use, but I will fight until someone can prove (just a little) that taking ownership away makes sense.

                                                  - Sometimes vendors can dazzle people with empty promises.  If a few discussions reveal things are not up to snuff, I will fight so I don't have to support a horrible product.

                                                  - Sometimes I can tell a new product will *not* replace the old one.  The old one will linger forever and will need to be forever need to be supported....BY ME.  I will fight to make sure the new product can replace the old one so I won't be left holding the bag to support an app with a few features that no one will ever spend time trying to integrate with the new app.

                                                    • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                                                      tigger2

                                                      More come to mind in the "fear change" category:

                                                      - If IT isn't THE business, it is frequently looked at as a "service" and something that doesn't make $, therefore it's costs always need to be brought down and made cheaper.  It's a target for frequent restructuring and change simply because the business side does not normally care how IT does its thing, only that it keeps doing it.  IT *itself* frequently promotes this self introspection.  As a result: People keep wanting to change it and always make it better/faster (or User interfaces prettier...hey: It's better for some people) as everyone can have their finger in the mix of how IT provides service.  I've never heard IT actively questioning how the business side works "The staples we're producing just don't feel sharp enough, and I also think our logo needs updating" and then bringing in other competing businesses to check up on it  "Sharper Staples LLC says that they can make these staples 100% sharper and cut costs by 50%.  They're subcontracting to get a Marketing and graphic design team to evaluate our logo"  .

                                                       

                                                      Since anyone internal or external can come in and request everything in IT be evaluated (an evaluation request by any single person, a vendor, other business areas, Santa Claus, etc.) it causes constant flux of having to stop and have meetings to re-justify things. Over and over. And this slows things down...yet IT has to keep going at the same or faster pace as before. As long as the evaluation is "honest" I don't think IT should have an issue with it, but it's when it's "motivated" by politics or someone with a grudge or some other odd factor then IT tends to fight because they know the changes are being requested/made with a non-technical bias.

                                                       

                                                      The "if it isn't broken don't fix it" gets brought up as there's only so many times you go through re-evaluating the same app/process before you start demanding a stronger argument or clearer set of requirements or business/technical case to do it over again.

                                                    • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                                                      optwpierce

                                                      I find it funny that a lot of comments are about the example I placed about SharePoint.  I was making a blanket statement and used SharePoint as a recent example.  Do you find that SharePoint is one of those application that you do what we in our office call a "Ron Popeil Set it and Forget it"?  What other applications do you find that are like that?  I find that Windows (XP and 2003 are still in our environment), SQL (We still have some 2003), backup software and IOS versions are the ones that we have in our environment.  Even if it will fix known issues, there is a certain cringe factor to updating these systems.  Curious what others have found. 

                                                       

                                                      Thanks for all the great feedback.  Keep it up.

                                                      • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                                                        superfly99

                                                        Around here it seems to be "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

                                                         

                                                        So whilst we are proactive and seeking out issues before they appear, generally if it's working ok, then it's left alone.

                                                        • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                                                          cahunt

                                                          I've come to think - to some degree at least - that there are those who watch and those who innovate. Those who innovate truly know the systems in and out, and are thinking of ways to adjust change and maneuver their process to improve their lifestyle.. for most of us that I know that becomes making it easier, quicker or automated - this way I can go watch the coffee brew. I fix it so I can go watch the coffee brew, and think about what else I need to improve to provide myself with more time to sit and watch, and think, and drink, and watch it all brew. Call me lazy, but it keeps me busy!

                                                          • Re: Why are I.T. People afraid of change?
                                                            weiss

                                                            Great discussion. I can relate to several of the posts.

                                                            In my experiences, I have perceived it as laziness. The guys just don't want to learn the new technology and keep up with the changes. And I have heard the "if it isn't broke don't fix it excuse too".