Disruption and Change Management – Part II

Change can be a bumpy road.

I’ve had a number of conversations about my previous post, The Disruption Dilemma.  As a result of those conversations, in this post I’m going to explore the role process has on technology adoption and share my thoughts on managing change.

To be honest, I used to look at process like I would a very large, ugly spider. Stay well away from it, or try to squash it.

It is my past few years at VCE that have helped me to fully appreciate and value the benefits of a good process. My team has gone through both evolution of charter and dramatic increased demand for resources. Without good process, we would have had little chance to be successful.

The Need for Process

The issue is that disruption, by its very nature, breaks process. When faced with breakage we tend to try to piece it back together like a child with a smashed vase and superglue. The result is something that kind of looks like it did before, and kind of works, but eventually the truth is found out and we are forced to start new. If created new from the beginning, we could have realized a level and speed of return greater than ever imagined.

So how do we apply that lesson? A lot of parallels remain between what happened with VoIP and what is happening now with CI. Processes like acquisition, chargeback, change management, and security take on whole new dimensions that cannot be accommodated by the current “way we have always done things.”

Change Management

Let us look at an example in change management. In the VoIP days, the process became overly complex and messy since we used to apply the old process to the new, and we tried to align change windows for the network, the application, security, etc. It was painful, to say the least.

The better way is to blow up the process and rethink how we affected change. In that situation, redundancy was our savior. If we built the network so we could change or upgrade individual components in an N+1 manner, we were able to step through the change without affecting the uptime of our voice. The same was true for all the application components, redundant signaling, codecs, and voicemail applications allowed us to upgrade quickly with none, or minimal, downtime.

The same concept applies to CI. Once you get multiple customers, each running mission critical applications, it is difficult to align change windows. We need to blow up the current processes and rethink how to leverage technology to support the process – not the other way around. At VCE we have spent a tremendous amount of time building change management processes for the Vblock Systems that are non-disruptive to the applications running on it.

As technologists, vendors and end-users, we all need to understand that we are the ones equipped to enable our own success. We can learn from the past and accelerate our future.

This topic deserves a much broader discussion, and we invite you to join the conversation on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.

About the Author: Jonathan Donaldson