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Skills gaps in the IT department hamper business change programmes, admit IT leaders

Skills gaps in the IT departments of business are hampering change management programmes, IT leaders admitted in research released today.

73% of CIOs and IT managers questioned believed that the progress of change management programmes in their organisations was being impeded by the lack of skills within their own IT department. And 64% said that they had had to introduce new leaders into projects to ensure that programmes were a success.

“This is a very honest and enlightened admission by our members that IT has a fundamental role to play in the evolution of businesses and there is more to be done,” commented Nick Kirkland, managing director of CIO Connect, the organisation that conducted the research amongst its membership.

“Specialised training is the way forward and I am very encouraged to see that our members recognise this problem and are addressing it with increased training for their teams in the softer skills of project management, leadership and communication.”

51% of the 135 CIOs and IT managers responding to the survey said they would be increasing investment in training over the next 12 months to ensure their staff could contribute more in change management programmes. Less than 4% said investment in training was being cut.

The survey also asked IT leaders to rate their organisations’ capability levels when it came to tackling a number of specific change management challenges. Respondents cited ‘overcoming the restrictions of any silo-based business process’ as their most problematic area, with 50% rating their capability level at the low end of the scale.

The next thorniest issues were ‘winning over sceptics by selling the benefits of a proposed change’ (with 40% citing a low level of capability) and ‘communicating the nature of project changes to stakeholders’ (31%). However, most IT leaders felt they were fairly capable (53%) when it came to estimating and analysing the impact and requirements of change programmes, as well as at identifying the resources and skills needed to drive these initiatives forward.

Glyn Evans, CIO of Birmingham City Council, said: “This research highlights the important requirement for increased training for IT leaders and their teams in the field of change management.

IT departments are today at the heart of successful change management programmes but the leadership and communication skills required to achieve success has, until very recently, not been emphasised enough. By addressing these training issues public sector services and British business competitive edge will inevitably be improved.”

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.