No small change

Von Todd Datz
Kolette Fly, who helped develop Pfizer Inc.'s electronic data capture system, knows firsthand that asking people to change the way they work can be as traumatic for some as asking them to bungee-jump off a bridge. An epidemiologist at Pfizer who heads clinical trials for the treatment of metabolic diseases, Fly remembers the first time she sat down with the nurse coordinator of a university hospital that Pfizer wanted to recruit for a new study. As soon as the coordinator saw the computer being pulled out of the box, she held up her hand and announced that computers were the "foot soldiers of the devil."

Fly and an IT person spent the next three days trying to overcome the coordinator's digital fears. They worked closely with her to explain computer basics and how Pfizer's Investigator Net (I-Net) system -- an electronic data capture system that automates data collection and analysis for drug development studies -- would make her work easier and more efficient. But the coordinator remained unconvinced, to the point where Pfizer was about to cut its losses and pull the hospital from the multicenter study. Then, in a grand "aha" moment, the coordinator realized that she could log in and navigate the system by herself without any coaching, and that the system "wasn't out to get her," says Fly. At that point, her resistance evaporated and she became a convert. The hospital became the top patient recruiter for the program, and the coordinator even volunteered to do road shows to preach the benefits of the system to other sites. "If this old dog can learn this, there's no reason anybody else can't," she told Fly.

Kolette Fly, who heads clinical trials for Pfizer, worked closely with nurses and doctors to sell them on a new electronic data capture system for Pfizer's drug trials.

Companies can develop or purchase IT systems that promise to cut costs, streamline operations, wash the car and whiten teeth, but CIOs know that if the users don't like a new system, they can kiss the promised value good-bye. That's why change management is so critical to the success of any new system. A well-thought-out strategy -- one that's driven by the needs of the business, encourages user input during the development phase, ensures proper training and keeps the lines of communication open at all times -- will go a long way toward making those multimillion-dollar technology investments contribute to the bottom line.

The four CIO Enterprise Value Award winners in this story -- Pfizer, the Chicago Police Department, The Procter & Gamble Co. and The Guardian Life Insurance Compnay of America -- have devoted plenty of blood, sweat and tears to convincing their users that change is for the better. Here's how having a solid change management strategy has paid off big time for these companies.

Winning over the rank and file

Take a grizzled, 50-year-old cop who's been patrolling the streets for decades and has grown quite comfortable filling out five-ply carbon forms to process all his arrests and casework. Then you suddenly order him to start doing his reports on a computer, an alien-looking object he may have never laid a finger on in his life. Indeed, one veteran cop on his first day of system training on a PC picked up the mouse without logging on, pointed it at the screen and started clicking away. When nothing happened, he asked why the damn thing wasn't working.

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