Digital transformation is forcing companies to continuously adapt their system landscapes and, at the same time, face ever new change projects. We asked Katharina Schmidt, an IT change manager at Accenture who deals with digital transformation on a daily basis, why IT transformation is more than just technology adaptation and what the work in change projects looks like.
Katharina, how would you describe your work as an IT Change Manager at Accenture?
The scope of our work is very broad. To put it simply, we support companies with IT-related changes - this can be an SAP 4/HANA update, a cloud transformation or even a completely new system introduction. It depends on the project whether change strategies are still being developed or whether we are already working in a later, more operational phase. The focus of change management is primarily on the stakeholders who will be affected by the change: be it the timely analysis and communication measures or the actual empowerment for the system content.
Can you give us a concrete example from your day-to-day work?
I'm currently working on a project for an automotive manufacturer in which the dealers are being introduced to a new sales and customer system. The exciting thing about this project is that I'm not just doing classic change management, but also carrying out the technical preparations and migration, so there's no typical day-to-day work. Concrete work packages that make up the project for me are, for example: giving training, leading user support, conducting key user workshops, accompanying iterative data downloads and cleansing, checking interfaces and then also taking on the actual responsibility for the "go live" and migration of the site to the new system.
That sounds very versatile and exciting. What excites you most about your new job?
I can only speak of my previous work, but that also applies to the consulting industry in general: No day is like the other - so it never gets boring. You are always challenged with new topics and there are very few repetitive tasks. Instead, there are situations that you have to adapt to individually, and at the same time you can take on a lot of responsibility. In addition, you really have the opportunity to learn a lot in a short time and to learn for the future.
After working in sales and recruitment, you now wanted to work in IT. Why did you decide to do so?
It's hard to imagine life today without IT. In none of the jobs I had during my studies could you say that sooner or later you wouldn't come into contact with IT to some extent. I also worked in sales mainly in a company that dealt with business applications and resold applications in addition to data and business intelligence events and research.
As an IT change manager, you are confronted with digital transformation in companies in your daily work. What are the current challenges? Have there already been any important learnings in the first few months of your new job?
The challenges that show up as a change manager right from the start are the people. An IT transformation is not just about the technical side: it is quite clear that the new update or system usually only brings benefits in terms of content. But it must also be used and implemented well. If the human component is neglected, resistance quickly arises and it is very difficult to make the new system palatable to the customer and stakeholders. This costs valuable time and resources. You need a lot of patience and sometimes a thick skin. There is also real competition for time. New systems don't wait, the speed at which IT transformations take place is increasing more and more, and the intervals between new transformations are also becoming shorter and shorter.
What qualities do you think are important for employees to be successful in times of digital change?
A certain joy in learning and discovering new things and always keeping an open mind. It's easy to feel comfortable in your familiar environment (be it digital or not), but constant change has become part of the working world. To avoid making life too difficult for yourself, you need to encourage yourself that digital change brings something positive for you. Also, quiet more self-confidence that you learn quickly. I've never studied anything IT-related, but in front of my customers I have to appear as if I'm an expert - and at some point you really are.
Thank you for your time and the exciting insights, Katharina!