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Technology upgrades are generally disruptive and often unwanted by staff. This was the challenge faced by the “Program Lhotse” team at SA Power Networks, when upgrading their Citrix platform and ten-year-old Microsoft Office suite, and standardising the server configuration.

Program Lhotse, named after the fourth highest mountain in the world, set a clear mantra: “Improving your end user experience”, which not only drove the project outcomes, but also the change approach.

“We realised that with little ‘appetite for change’, we needed to make sure that there was minimal impact and disruption to the staff, and the best way to do this was to consolidate our approach, go directly to our people and build a sustainable support framework,” says Fiona Longhurst, Change Lead, SA Power Networks.

Going to the staff wasn’t as easy as it sounds. SA Power Networks has 2,500 staff dispersed across 35 geographically disparate sites (requiring more than 30 000km travel).

The change team developed a continuous improvement approach to the project, aligning objectives and milestones to ADKAR. Training was paramount in all stages of the pre- and post-implementation, along with reviews and improvements to the approach following each site implementation.

“Previously we would remotely deploy our technology. However, this time we really focused on being hands-on and present. The infrastructure team was onsite during deployment, and we had ‘floor walkers’ supporting people when we went live and training was in real time,” says Holly Waltham, Change Lead, SA Power Networks.

Real time training meant that staff attended mandatory training, whilst the infrastructure team upgraded the system. When staff returned to their desks following training, the new platform was live and they could directly apply what they had learnt. Staff were provided with handouts to guide them through their first logon and issues were immediately addressed with support on the ground. Notably, the ‘floor walkers’ were also well trained, not only in the new platform, but change management to help them understand what people were going through.

To further ensure minimal disruption the back of house activities for the upgrade, which required the sites to be offline, were scheduled outside of business hours.

Feedback from staff on the implementation verified the team’s minimal disruption and hands-on approach.

“Staff said that they anticipated that the upgrade would be far more difficult that it was,” says Fiona Longhurst. “And they acknowledged that there was minimal disruption and that issues were immediately addressed.”

“We continually improved the end user experience per site as we received more feedback throughout the implementation. This method was so successful, we have adopted it in other projects,” says Holly Waltham.

“Project Lhotse – Improving your end-user experience” project is a finalist in the ChangeConnect Awards 2017. The winner of the change management award will be announced on 9 November 2017 at the ChangeConnect Awards & End of Year Party. Tickets available at Eventbrite. #celebratechange

SA Power Networks operates a distribution network that stretches across South Australia, comprising thousands of kilometres of powerline and hundreds of substations. The key services include: delivering electricity from the high voltage network through poles and wires to your property or business; installing, maintaining and reading meters; providing an emergency response in the event of blackouts; and repairing street lighting.

 

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