Boardrooms are abuzz over big data; mobile applications are the order of the day; the first wave of enterprise resource planning systems is due for an upgrade. Without a doubt, information technology (IT) is in the crosshairs of change. Seems like it’s always been that way!

The pressure is on for IT departments to design, source and implement new systems incorporating all the latest bells and whistles. I offer the results of Protiviti’s 2014 IT Priorities Survey as proof of the scope of the drivers for change.

In leaping forward, however, organizations tend to embrace the future at the expense of the status quo. This can be a costly and crippling mistake when dealing with mission-critical systems. Service and performance continuity is as important to change management as change itself. In making change happen, it is essential to ensure that everything already in place runs smoothly while you build and implement the new technology. Also, it is important to achieve acceptable returns on prior IT investments. There has to be appropriate balance when embracing change.
In leaping forward, however, organizations tend to embrace the future at the expense of the status quo.

For many companies, IT transformation can mean deploying heavily customized software; “re-architecting” existing networks; establishing interconnectivity with new business partners; adopting specialized technology; and investing further in web and mobile capabilities. So what are the best ways to manage an IT transformation? Here are five strategies and approaches that we have found work best:

1. Understand–and communicate!–your priorities. 
This means introducing them with the assistance of relevant functional leaders across the enterprise. Paint a picture of what you have now, what you hope to have after the transformation and what needs to be done to maintain the technological status quo during the change.

2. Prepare a prioritized task list, in consultation with the organization’s executive management and business owners.

3. Make sure you understand which core activities cannot fail during the transformation and develop appropriate timelines to address them.

4. Organize your IT transformation projects according to your priority list.

5. Make sure you have the right skills and people in place to get the job done.

Companies know too well how difficult it is to maintain current systems as new systems are being developed and put in place. Indeed,
“IT infrastructure change management” and “operating system change management” both ranked very high as critical priorities in our survey. Planning and managing the technical infrastructure are key elements to the success and resilience of the business.
MORE: IT Risks Are Prevalent: Do You Have Enough IT Audit Coverage?

Here are some questions to ask prior to initiating an IT change:

  • Which systems are in immediate need of upgrading and which ones can wait?

  • Which are the mission-critical systems that need to be maintained during the change?

  • How will you maintain IT security during the change?

  • How and when will your IT policies be updated?

  • Do you have the resources to accomplish the transformation efficiently, effectively and with minimal disruption?

The breathtaking pace of technological change greatly complicates IT management processes, and the need for new technologies will continue to command the attention of CIOs and IT leaders. While you can’t stop progress, maintaining current systems and operations to ensure a smooth transition can spell the difference between IT that supports and moves the enterprise forward, or periodically disrupts it.

This post was published originally on The Protiviti View by Protiviti Inc. Copyright 2014. Protiviti is a global consulting firm that helps companies solve problems in finance, technology, operations, governance, risk and internal audit ( The Protiviti View is hosted by Jim DeLoach, a Protiviti Managing Director, and features regular contributions from him as well as other Protiviti subject-matter experts. Follow Jim on Twitter @DeLoachJim.

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