As the pension sector in the Netherlands braces itself for a massive transition, both technology and organizations are due for a major upgrade. In our first blog, we gave five tips for the technological success of IT projects in the pension sector. In this blog, we dive into the organizational side and how the success of IT projects is just as dependent on people as it is on tech.
Modernizing systems for sustained success can only be done if people are on board and understand the changes this will bring to their current duties and way of working. The support of the entire organization is vital for a successful transformation. Below are five observations made by IG&H that prevent IT projects in pension organizations from achieving their full potential:
1) Information gap - As the board and management, you have a huge information advantage over the rest of the shop floor. While management is already experimenting and making decisions, the rest of the organization may still be in the denial phase (Kubler-Ross change Curve).
Tip: As management, remember to involve the rest of the organization with the transition and be aware that they haven't yet had the time to get used to this change.
2) Top-down block - Management has not been able to sufficiently grasp the importance and translation of strategy into tactical and operational levels. This makes it difficult for management and employees to properly apply the strategy.
Tip: Be clear about why certain choices have been made and what the desired end result is. Try to avoid generic terms, such as cost-effective and results-oriented, as this will lead to all sorts of different interpretations within the organization. Ensure that progress is measured frequently and pragmatically, and don't forget to celebrate interim successes along the way!
3) Organizational change without the organization - Especially when it comes to new IT implementation, the supplier often builds the IT system based only on limited coordination with the organization. The supplier then transfers it to the users with only a few days of training or a manual. As a result, the system does not always align well with the users' needs, the system is also not utilized to its full potential, and there is a lack of support for the system in the organization.
Tip: make sure the organization is closely involved in the project, preferably from the beginning. Empower people with their function. Make sure you have structures, systems and processes in place to elicit desired behavior and maximize adoption
4) Specialists are scarce - The number of specialists in the organization is limited and the required capacity of these people is often not properly estimated in advance. As a result, positions in the program are often filled by outsiders. This leads to a 'cold transfer' and limited learning experience for the organization's own employees.
Tip: Identify which specialists are needed in the transformation and whether other matters are draining their capacity. Make clear where the priorities lie. When this causes capacity issues remember to look for external expertise in time, because this is also limited. If necessary, you can also hire extra capacity during the run instead of only at the change stage.
5) Stagnation versus innovation – Understandably, the focus of many pension providers has been on delivering a stable and reliable pension process. This is often at the expense of (major) innovation, resulting in low change maturity for many organizations.
Tip: make sure you have a well-defined program structure, in which it is clear what the scope of the program is, what the deliverables and timelines are and who has what responsibility. Also do not hesitate to have (senior) employees take training courses in this or bring in other external help.
From an organizational perspective, two major obstacles slow down the progress of IT projects in the pension sector: First, insufficient support from the internal organization. Second, the lack of a solid transformation approach. Would you like to avoid this? With more than three decades of experience in the pension sector, IG&H is well-equipped to support pension organizations in their digital transformation. Would you like to find out more about successful IT projects in the pension sector?
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