In an article published today in the prestigious journal California Management Review, business researcher Einar Iveroth shows how successful and large-scale IT-enabled transformation projects can be carried out in practice. He presents a framework called “The Commonality Framework for IT-Enabled Change” that can be used both for developing concrete checklists and for strategic discussions.

Research has shown that as many as 70 percent of IT-enabled change projects fail. Most previous research has focused on this percentage, studying what can go wrong in technology-related changes. Instead, Einar Iveroth focused on the remaining 30 percent, the projects that succeeds.

The article is based on a longitudinal study of the global transformation of the F&A (finance and accounting) department at Ericsson. The organization managed to successfully change their department from an independent structure of numerous local F&A organizations with their own information systems and their own way of doing things into one interdependent global network of so-called shared service centers. The transformation was underpinned by the implementation of a single Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP) and can be regarded as a successful example of IT-enabled change.

To succeed, IT-enabled change need to strike a balance between the hard technological factors and the softer organizational and social factors, according to Einar Iveroth. In the article, he shows how the interplay between the hard and soft factors of change plays in practice.

“Only through interplay can the true gain of IT-enabled change be realized. Earlier research has argued for this interplay but has failed to illustrate and explain how it is actually brought about in practice,” he says.

Previous research has focused on abstract and aggregated theories and strategies for IT and change, leaving the ground-level application of IT transformation untouched. In the past, our knowledge has therefore been patchy regarding what should actually be done in practice to steer successful IT-enabled transformations.

Einar Iveroth presents a concrete framework, combined with an analysis based on the latest research. The framework, illustrated by rich and detailed examples from Ericsson, shows that IT-enabled changes comprise four different dimensions, with each dimension requiring its own unique structures, roles, activities, and focus. Related to each dimension there are a number of central issues that management needs to address in large-scale IT transformations.

“The Commonality Framework for IT-Enabled Change” is a concrete tool that can be used to develop, improve, and evaluate large-scale IT projects. It can serve as a basis both for checklists and for strategic discussions in the boardroom,” says Einar Iveroth.

All in all, the article provides a dual contribution to both business studies and the IT field for both theoreticians and practitioners.

Reference: Iveroth, E. (2010) Inside Ericsson: a framework for the practice of leading global IT-enabled change, California Management Review, Vol. 53, No. 1.
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