Organizations implement new information systems in order to improve their existing or planned operations. Properly designed information systems produce the benefits of improved productivity, increased effectiveness, and greater creativity. New information systems improve productivity by helping organization processes complete more quickly or with few resources. Effectiveness is increased when organization members or processes make the right decisions more frequently. Finally, new information systems can allow organization members to tap into greater creativity by performing routine tasks and allowing them to focus on their own unique abilities (Senn, 2004).
Unfortunately, the benefits of new information systems do not come without a cost. The challenges of integrating new information systems into existing organizations are created when adapting organization members and processes to the new system. Within an organization, there are several forces resistant to change. Different functional groups within an organization may resist the change depending on how beneficial they perceive the change to be. Similarly, smaller groups and teams may resist the change if the change is seen as disruptive to the group's cohesiveness. Finally, individual organization members may resist the change based on their own insecurities and perceptions (George & Jones, 2008). It is the role of executive management to recognize these resistances to change and implement a strategy to reduce their impact.
As Stewart Clegg, Martin Kornberger, and Tyrone Pitsis (2008) so poignantly described it, "managing innovations requires leadership skills and involvement from the top of an organization" (p. 393). Change management is the process of implementing change in a controlled manner so that resistance to change is minimized and negative organizational impact is reduced. In the 1950s, Kurt Lewin proposed a method of change that involved unfreezing an organization from its current state, implementing the proposed change, and then refreezing the organization. This methodology has come to be rejected by those that believe organizations are in constant motion and cannot be frozen. These so-called processual change methodologists promote a constant change process in which smaller changes are implemented periodically. Finally, there is a group of theorists that agree that healthy organizations are in perpetual motion. However, they reject the idea that organizations can be changed systemically, and instead believe that change and innovation arises from the chaos inherent in the organization (Clegg, Kornberger, & Pitsis, 2008).
Despite these differing theories of change management, information technology managers must be prepared for the impact new information systems will have on their organizations. The key to implementation success is an understanding of how the new system will affect individuals and groups within the organization, as well as, the organization as a whole. This understanding, coupled with change management, creates the ability to plan an implementation in such a way that negative organizational impact is minimized.
Clegg, S., Kornberger, M., & Pitsis, T. (2008). Managing and organizations: An introduction to theory and practice (2nd ed.). London: SAGE.
George, J. M., & Jones, G. R. (2008). Understanding and managing organizational behavior (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Senn, J. A. (2004). Information technology: Principles, practices, opportunities (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.