Tech Talk Live Blog

Software Change Management: Using an Intrapreneurship Strategy

Margie Morales

People typically do not like change and this is especially true when IT departments deploy new or upgraded systems and software that staff use to do their daily work. Technology administrators know that making inevitable enterprise changes can be stressful to staff, so planning and communication is always crucial. Having a strategy similar to this applies to application development as well. Convincing project stakeholders that your idea to solve a problem is the way to proceed takes some skillful intrapreneurship tactics.

According to businessdictionary.com, the word Intrapreneurship is defined as the “Practice of entrepreneurship in an established firm. Intrapreneurship applies the ‘start up’ style of management (characterized by flexibility, innovation, and risk taking) to a secure and stable firm. The objective is to fast track product development (by circumventing the bureaucracy) to take advantage of a new opportunity or to assess feasibility of a new process or design.”

Recently, I began working on developing a new process for an existing business process in a system that is already in use. Complicating things is the fact that staff are doing the business process in the existing system using a workaround. In a perfect scenario, the existing workaround could integrate with the software change, but in this instance, it is not possible because it would not work with the project requirements. An easy route would be for me to throw an unexpected solution out there and say, “This is the only way to do this,” but I prefer to communicate that reality with a bit more finesse to increase the probability of stakeholder’s acceptance. In other words, I need to get buy-in when I pitch a new process change that will fundamentally change the way staff interact with the software system.

My friend and colleague, Matt Kernicky, recently wrote the blog, The Most Important Tool in Your Toolbox: Buy-In. He talked about how it was not solely up to him whether or not his preference of a specific type of diagraming tool is used in a project. I fully agree with his assessment and his willingness to change for the benefit of the group. While a different scenario, in contrast, is that sometimes there is a need or desire to “sell” an idea or solution when you think stakeholders would not expect or accept it. There is definitely risk with this strategy, including failure, which is not necessarily a bad thing as a learning experience, if an employer supports employee intrapreneurship.

The realization is daunting that stakeholders may not be receptive to your ideas, or at least at first. Because of this, it is important to remain flexible with an idea or solution and invite others on the team to analyze, critique, build on, and share ownership. Sharing ownership is especially important when a proposed solution causes additional work for the stakeholders such as having to communicate new process information and requiring additional training for staff. As an application developer, when you spend time being creative and coming up with a solution because you are passionate about solving a problem or streamlining a process, I believe that you owe it to yourself to use intrapreneurship strategies when managing software changes. It may not work out, but I believe it is worth the risk.

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