When politicking for change, there's likely to be a few stumbles along the way. But an organized approach that includes consistent communication with all parties involved should help you stay on the path to getting business buy-in.That was the message presented by Mike Byam, vice president, e-business and technology at The Hartford, Hartford, Conn., during the "Managing Change" session of the ACORD-LOMA Insurance Systems Forum held in Orlando May 22-24.

"Between the changes and challenges we are seeing in the financial industry, and advances in technology, we are all facing higher demands, pressures and expectations from our customers," Byam told the overflow crowd.

Regulatory challenges

"The challenges inherent in state and federal regulatory requirements play a huge role in determining our ability to focus on our core competencies," he said. "Market response to the pricing business cycle also has an effect on our ability to remain competitive and retain a competitive advantage."

As another example of the challenges that affect moving IT forward, Byam described a common theme among carriers with antiquated legacy systems that are stacked "one on top of the other."

"The problem is the inability to shift away from the day-to-day grind of operational support in this environment to a mindset that allows us to best service the customer."

Byam asked the audience to think about how their CIO gets to the table to talk to the business about the change that is necessary. "You need to get them to a position where they can be heard by senior management," he said. "You need a driver to the business transformation."

Byam challenged the audience to "manage change by leading the change," and offered his version of a methodical "disc approach" that leaves silo thinking behind.

"Gather the facts, choose a destination, set a direction, create a plan and establish governance," he told the audience. "This involves looking at your people, processes and tools, and then determining where the change needs to take place and where you need to spend."

Byam's involvement in The Hartford's nine-year P&C information technology project-currently half completed-served as the foundation for his advice on how to create the necessary momentum and business incentives for change.

He outlined a series of questions that IT executives need to ask to create a "burning platform" of rationale for change.

* Where is the business going in three to five years?

* What technologies are emerging and how could they change the business model?

* Where is the competition heading?

* Where do employees want or need to go in the future?

* What is the business case for change?

* What are the opportunities for change?

* What's ahead per role, per discipline, per person?

Once the plan is created, Byam told the audience, it's critical to communicate the delivery model, the capital planning required and the architectural changes that need to take place.

"Holistic change requires change in behavior and a move away from the status quo," he said.

It's then time to present the expected benefits. "Restrict your communications to include facts, not 'feel good' messages," Byam told the audience.

"It's important to focus on both the short- and long-term expected results, but remember to constantly communicate what lies just beyond the next wave of change."

What's in it for me?

Byam advised the group to use the "WIFM" approach throughout management of an IT imitative.

"Communicate the 'what's-in-it-for-me' elements throughout the planning, implementation and maintenance of a major change-producing project," he said. "All parties involved, employees, vendors and consultants, need to understand their role and the potential of the dream."

Byam asked attendees to keep their eyes on the end game, stating "the technology side needs to be a partner with the business side, not simply an order taker."

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