IT in the Oil & Gas Industry: Enabling Your Business with an Agile Approach

IT has typically been a support function in the energy and utilities industry. IT can be perceived as bureaucratic, stalling efforts with documentation and governance, and moving too slowly for the business. Because of this, IT organizations within E&U have been working to change their image as an enabler of the business.

Many IT organizations have adopted agile methodologies to drive increased value and faster delivery to the business. Combining agile development with agile change management can increase value and transform IT’s relationship with the business from a support function to a partnership.

Traditional change management, like the ADKAR methodology, embraces a linear process to adopt changes. In an agile environment where solutions are constantly in flux, the change management process needs to become iterative and rooted in feedback. We recommend two methods to bring an agile environment to your organization based on our recent POV, “Agile Change: One Small Step for Agile Projects, One Giant Lead for Enterprise Agility”:

Ceaseless Stakeholder Engagement – All change management methodologies incorporate an aspect of impact analysis and stakeholder engagement. Change managers must go one step further to develop a feedback process with all stakeholders for agile to be successful. It requires regular meetings with your business stakeholders to review and prioritize user stories.

With regular stakeholder meetings, the IT project team enables the business to drive priorities and determine trade-offs instead of making the decisions themselves. In addition to the business stakeholder meetings, agile change management requires broader input to capture feedback because the business stakeholders who work with the project team usually represent only a small portion of all business users. The end user feedback sessions can be a large survey once a year, meetings with various business functions each quarter, or a random sampling of end users throughout the year. By taking the time to meet with a diverse group of end users, the change manager helps drive adoption by listening and capturing issues. An added benefit can be for the change manager to advocate for user stories that alleviate known issues. Fixing known issues affecting many users solidifies long term project support as the end user is shown their opinion matters.

Constant Training – Agile implementations have multiple releases and constant changes. For every agile release, the project training materials need to provide an education component. In addition to the constant updating of training materials, an agile environment produces a varied spectrum of knowledge among the stakeholders and users: users who have no training, users who have diverse degrees of some training, and users who are fully trained.

When designing the training plan for an agile project, the change manager needs to evaluate and develop a strategy on how to ensure consistent knowledge among the end users and stakeholders. The change manager must work closely with the project team to understand future enhancements and their complexity, visibility, and impact on end users. For enhancements that impact the end users, the project team decides whether a communication or refresher training module is needed based on the stakeholder’s characteristics.

Another element of this tactic is to constantly update and deliver training. With frequent end user training, the project team is in a unique position to constantly capture end user feedback. Asking for feedback and providing updates on how issues have been addressed at each training session builds trust between the end users and IT. Continuous training enables the development of a long-term partnership where the business can voice feedback to IT and help them design new solutions.

Agile methodologies provide a transformation opportunity for IT organizations in the Oil & Gas industry and can help IT organizations build a true partnership with the business to create greater long-term value. Learn how to implement agile ways of working to drive a more effective transformation for your organization in our recent POV, Agile’s Five Hidden Amplifiers.