Change management can help IT modernization succeed, Oregon CIO says

Change management frameworks are much more than just training, said Oregon Chief Information Officer Terrence Woods.
(Getty Images)

Changes to how people work inevitably follow any large state IT project, and that’s not always welcome, Oregon Chief Information Officer Terrence Woods told StateScoop in a recent interview.

“It’s easy for us to watch other people change, but when it pertains to us it’s very hard, so it means a lot of early communication and putting together a change-management plan,” Woods said.

Terrence Woods
Terrence Woods (Terrence Woods)

Woods said that in his state he advocates for the use of Prosci’s ADKAR framework, a change-management model that provides a rigorous series of steps designed to steer projects toward success. The words that make up the acronym — awareness, desire, knowledge, ability and reinforcement — each target potential stumbling blocks that could trip up a project. If there’s no desire to support an upgrade, for example, it will struggle to succeed, Woods said.


“The one thing every IT organization needs to push on is organizational change and organizational leadership, because it’s often overlooked or it’s just viewed as training, and it’s so much more than that and so important in terms of trying to solidify the success ultimately of the project,” Woods said. 

In an ongoing statewide project to move Oregon to Microsoft’s Office 365 suite of productivity tools, Woods said change management has been key to educate staff about the need for the upgrade. Woods said he’s ADKAR-certified, but that many states don’t have the employees or managers with change-management skills, so hiring an outside firm is a good idea.

“I can’t emphasize enough the governance piece,” he said. “That is essential for success. Ultimately, if you’re going to talk about change management, if you’re going to talk about modernization, if you don’t have governance, you can’t sustain any of that in a healthy way.”

Colin Wood

Written by Colin Wood

Colin Wood is the editor in chief of StateScoop and EdScoop. He's reported on government information technology policy for more than a decade, on topics including cybersecurity, IT governance and public safety.

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