Change management was a dominant theme for questions at the Inter-American Development Bank workshop, The Cutting Edge on Information Technology on Public Financial Management last week. There was only time to summarize how FreeBalance deals with this challenge. Typical project management techniques are unlikely to overcome the organizational change management challenge for Government Resource Planning (GRP) transformation in emerging economies.
That’s because GRP transformation could be the organizational change management “perfect storm” by combining the challenges of:
- Large IT projects, like ERP, that have significant change challenges and low success rates, with
- Government, with more complex organizational structures and different incentives that increases challenges, with
- Emerging Economies, with different political economies and socio-cultural contexts that increases challenges, with
- Transformational projects, that promise increased transparency, accountability and citizen engagement that threatens the status quo
It’s no wonder that we view change management as the critical skill for GRP success. And, it is no surprise that the subject was top of mind among attendees as the workshop. I will articulate our approach to organizational change management challenges in a series of blog posts.
This first covers technology choice.
Technology Choice and Change Management
There is consensus that technology choice plays virtually no role in organizational change management. It seems that most observers separate the technology from the process of implementation. That makes sense because the technology solutions are similar: ERP and custom-developed applications have similar complexity characteristics. It is difficult to drill into the organizational change consequences of focused government applications versus generalized applications. There appears to be a view that software customization and complex system infrastructure is the “cost of doing business” that can’t be avoided.
FreeBalance differs from legacy enterprise software vendors because of our laser-focus on government and our business model of involvement in every project. This gives us insight into improving our products and processes. It has also led us to “productize” to help overcome some GRP change challenges. This includes:
- Government-focused design using public sector terminology and concepts that makes processes more intuitive
- Configuration of business rules, workflow, language, metadata, help, and information fields makes it easier to support existing processes to reduce change resistance, while enabling future progressive activation and reform
- Localization of language and terminology to be easier to understand, including the ability for the terms, help, labels etc. to differ among countries that use the same base language
- Content managed-help including courseware, government-specific screens, and procedure manuals to make the software more intuitive
We believe that this approach, within the FreeBalance Accountability Suite, reduces some of the friction associated with change management.