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Describe the need for change management.


Teaching Note:

Students should understand there are a number of factors that need to be managed to ensure change is successful.

S/E The way that change is managed can have significant effects on employers and employees.

JSR Note: The S/E, TOK, AIM etc. parts of the Teaching Notes can sometimes seem to have tenuous links to what these stand for. But don't take any teaching note lightly for that reason. When going through this curriculum, just treat all teaching notes as teaching notes; as part of the curriculum document which is indeed there in black and white, and so which needs to be covered and understood.


Sample Question:



JSR Notes:


Change "Ain't" Easy

Looking forward to 1.1.5, there are four general ways to implement a new system, parallel running, pilot running, direct changeover and phased conversion. And the kinds of changes that need to be managed when implementing a new IT system will be greatly influenced by the particular implementation process chosen. But for now, this assessment is more about underlining the fact that "it ain't easy" to bring a new IT system into an organization.

Organizational Change

Also note that for these assessment statements you need to be thinking at an organizational level; systems are bigger and much more complex than an individual using a single computer and piece of software. And along with schools and hospitals and other public spaces, such as airports, you can be thinking in terms of businesses; all big office buildings anywhere, which house banks, engineering firms, and all manner of other business - have dedicated IT systems, and they all have employees and employers (as noted above in the teaching note) as well as customers which will be impacted by the system change being planned.

Change Management 

Change management is a systematic approach to dealing with change, moving an organization from one stable state to another. Part of change management is assuring that all aspects of the change are successfully taken to conclusion, but just as important is the control of the transition period, which can be messy, assuring that the organization continues to function properly through the period of change.

IT System-Specific Change Management

With structured change management of IT systems, specific procedures, techniques and technologies are defined, developed, and implemented to keep things running, as the new systems are developed and rolled out. IT systems can be extremely complex, with various subsystems, software and hardware influencing each other in complex and potentially unpredictable ways. In fact there are companies that specialize in producing both generic and bespoke software suites that help companies manage IT systems change. The more that problematic situations and potential pitfalls can be anticipated, the more robust the transition systems can be.

At the bottom of this notes page are some specific, detailed examples of IT system transitions requiring change management, but meantime, it could be helpful to think of a few general situations:


General Factors That Need to be Managed During IT System Change

1. Continuing Operations - while the transition is underway, the regular operations of the company/organization need to be maintained. To the customer/member, the transition should seem as seamless as possible. Done correctly, behind the scenes changes should not even be apparent on the surface. As a worst-case-scenario, services can be put on hold - but for a minimum time, and at a time of the day (3 a.m., for example) or the year (summer, for example) in which they will cause minimum disruption.

2. Data Integrity - during IT change, data will be necessarily moved back and forth, and often its form (data type etc.) will be changed. This is a precarious time for maintaining correctness of the data. Backup and redundancy strategies are key here. Unfortunately there have been many high profile cases of data being lost during transitions.

3. Privacy - as data is migrated, or its form is changed, data which is to be kept private must be kept secure, and out of the hands of those who should not gain access to it.

4. Employee and Customer Buy-in - since transitions may have to be a bit messy, and also because people tend to be a bit conservative, people may react against the change. This can cause bad morale within the company/organization or, worse, in the case of customers, lost business.

5. Costs - Ultimately, new IT systems are introduced and developed because it is believed they will benefit the company, and usually, this will translate into increased profits. But change often does not come cheap. And so costs of the transition process need to be kept track of and kept in check. Perhaps most important of all with this is correct determination of costs before the decision to proceed is taken.

+ Other Factors - There are many other things that need to be taken into consideration, depending on the particular change, for example environmental issues and legal implications.

The Need for Change Management

As can be seen by the wide range of important factors that need to be taken into consideration during IT systems change, change management is crucial. Change management is necessary to help ease in the new system while assuring that the overall operations of the company or organization continue for the benefit of both it and those who use its services.

Specific Examples

Often IB exam questions will be geared toward specific situations. The Case Study (IB CS Paper 3) can make for a good scenario from which to ask questions related to change management.

With each of these factors, ask yourself what effect could each consideration have on employers, or employees, or customers (in the first example's case, patients, doctors, and nurses, for example).

A region-wide hospital database system

Factors to be managed during the change:

- Ease of use

- Privacy/security

- Compatibility issues between different hospitals and database systems

- Data that should/should not be included in each person's file

- Cost

- Feasibility (Is it technically possible?)



A School switching to Windows from Apple

Factors to be managed during the change:

- Hardware/software needed

- Retraining to use Windows; both all teachers and all students

- Retraining and certification of tech guys

- Anitvirus and malware education - like not opening up random emails etc.

- Public relations to persuade the community to want to switch

- Dealing with student excuses from changeover ("I lost my homework because....")

- Future hiring considerations (tech guys for sure, but what about teachers too?)



Hotel updating its wireless networking

Factors to be managed during the change:

- Customer needs
(and cost benefit analysis to determine how much bandwidth needed)

- Tendering for the best bid from various service provider
(and what factors make a particular service the "best")

- Advertising

- "Work in progress" communication if service is affected





The following video is a little silly through most of it, but it gives a good impression of how things can go bad, and introduces a specific change management system which can be purchased to help those implementing IT systems change:

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