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Technology professionals face a constant barrage of requests to implement and deploy applications to meet the needs of various parts of their organization.  Without a formalized process to direct traffic in the flurry of application requests, things can get messy fast; leading to frustration, lack of trusts, and siloed technology adoption.    Leveraging some of the baseline principles from change management frameworks, you can provide some structure to this to receive and send the information needed to set realistic expectations on deployment capabilities.

One excellent way of prioritizing is understanding the level of value and effort for the applications to be deployed.   Value and effort are evaluated from many perspectives, so having a solid understanding of your stakeholders is critical to conduct this sort of analysis.   This methodology is easy to remember with the LOVE acronym: 







Where do I start?

Step 1: Determine the level of value by strategically evaluating the business implications of implementing the GIS application, technology, and/or information.  Some example questions to consider include:

  • How does this support our strategic goals, objectives, initiatives?
  • How will this help us in the long term and short term?
  • What parts of our organization can/will benefit from the adoption of this application?

Keeping this simple is key, as it will need to be actionable.  For example, ranking from 1-3 or Low-Medium-High value.


Step 2: Determine the level of effort for deploying AND maintaining the GIS data, information and/or application.   The level of effort can be determined by answering questions such as:

  • How much time will this take our IT team to develop, test, and deploy?
  • What training/skills gaps exist that need to be considered?
  • Will my team be willing and able to adopt this into their workflows?

Use the same scale that you used in step 1 for the sake of consistency and simplicity.  (i.e. rank 1-3, or low-medium-high)


Step 3: Evaluate the results from Step 1 and Step 2 to determine where you have high value and low level of effort.  These will be imperative to establish quick-wins and build momentum for your transformation.   The high value, high level of effort initiatives are candidates for doing formal change management and project plans.  They’ll require a more significant planning effort, but since they are high-value, the ROI makes it justifiable. The image below is a good reference for putting this to use:


These 3 steps are often things we think about but don’t formally document.  By having this documented, assumptions are avoided and collaboration with stakeholders is encouraged. 

I had the honor of presenting the spotlight talk "Engage the Enterprise with GIS" at UC 2018.  The full capacity audience was fantastic, especially considering it was late in the day.   The talk was around the People side of the broader Enterprise GIS Strategy.  The broader strategy should include: 

  • People
  • Process
  • Technology
  • Data 

When engaging the enterprise, look at all the various business units and enlist the help of willing participants at various levels in the said business unit(s).   Then work with them to communicate in terms that are well understood and relevant to the intended audience.  Below is a graphic, extracted from Dr. Elliott Jacques' "In Praise of Hierarchy".  Note that the temporal and strategic levels are the parameters to use when communicating the value of utilizing GIS. 

When using this model to engage with your audience, make sure you are addressing these core considerations from the audience perspective:



Why me?

Why Now?


The attached presentation provides more information about this concept. 


As always, Esri is here to support you through your technology implementation and change.  Let us know if you have any questions. 

The Esri User Conference presents a unique opportunity for professionals of all domains to collaborate and learn about the power of leveraging The Science of Where™ in their organization. This year’s theme, “GIS, Inspiring What’s Next” gets to the heart of how GIS can transform organizations. 


Organizations of all types are seeking out new ways to leverage GIS to improve mission execution, achieve business goals, and provide new insights. GIS has shifted from a siloed technology to being cross-cutting, touching business units across the entire enterprise.


This shift presents challenges for GIS leaders, managers, and IT professionals. Introducing new technologies has a direct impact on an organization’s people. Inspiring your workforce to change and embrace new technology-enabled workflows requires a strategic, collaborative approach.

Change management is a formalized approach to analyzing the workforce impact of integrating new technologies into workflows and planning accordingly. The planning process accounts for

  • Sponsorship
  • Communications
  • Resistance management
  • Training and workforce development


Integrating people=focused change management activities into your GIS technology implementation plans helps to

  • Provide seamless integration of people-oriented support into your technology project plans.
  • Increase in adoption rates.
  • Earn executive sponsorship support.
  • Shorten your implementation cycles.


Several conference sessions are available to help you start thinking about change management:

Implementing ArcGIS Track

GIS Manager Track

If you cannot make it to the sessions or you would like to spend time elaborating on the concepts and knowledge gained in the two sessions, stop by the Implementing ArcGIS area in the Expo. Talk with us about

  • Your organization’s change readiness.
  • The risk and impacts of change.
  • Strategies to increase technology adoption across your team, department, or organization.

Whether you are introducing GIS to a few key individuals or you are preparing for an enterprise GIS implementation, there are many opportunities to learn how to integrate people-oriented change management principles into your strategy at this year’s User Conference.

This is part 2 of a three-part series on the stakeholder analysis stage of a people-focused change management initiative.

My previous post on aligning people-focused change management with a disruptive technology deployment explained why it’s important to analyze impacted workforce roles across organizational business units. After documenting how each role will use the new technology, the next step is to identify any skills gaps.

Start by considering the to-be or desired, state to understand what the role will need to know to achieve the desired state. Because you’re doing the skills-gap analysis at the role level rather than individual level, assume the people filling the roles know nothing about the new technology. Later, you can work with team members to document their training needs.

Below is an example of how a role is documented at this stage to support a skills-gap analysis. Notice the three numbered sections.

Role Overview

This section includes a high-level description of what the role does and specific role actions related to the technology deployment. The impacted roles may be unfamiliar to you; therefore, having a knowledgeable liaison is critical in this step. If need be, you can usually get formal position descriptions from your Human Resources team.

Strategic Alignment

This section provides a focused description of how the role participates in various strategic business objectives. Aligning role to organizational strategy provides the justification for training and highlights how the role’s work product contributes to important organizational goals and objectives.

Knowledge Requirements

Previously, you created role profiles to document the current state. Now, in this section, list the Skills Capabilities and Workflows that are required for the role’s “to-be” state. Skills Capabilities are a high-level classification of the many workflows that are identified in the technology platform.

Notice that the Workflows component provides a more detailed explanation of how the skills will benefit the role. Adding this information is an important part of communicating the WIFFM (What’s In It For Me) to individuals who must learn the workflows. Additionally, this section helps translate learning objectives into terms people will understand and appreciate. When the new skills need to be applied to their daily tasks, they can reference this section to ensure they are meeting the learning objectives.


After conducting this part of the stakeholder analysis, you are prepared to evaluate your team members’ knowledge capacity to execute the technology implementation. The information you have collected will help to:

1.      Prioritize training delivery to ensure team enablement for implementation.

2.      Align training activities with project milestones to ensure timely delivery of training. In other words, deliver training when it is needed--not too early and not too late.

3.      Make sure individuals have the big-picture of “why” they need to learn the new workflows when they are assigned training.

4.      Identify areas where skills already exist. This can help to build momentum for adoption of the new technology. 

This is part 1 of a three-part series on the stakeholder analysis stage of a people-focused change management initiative.

People-focused change management focuses on the individual impacts of technology-driven changes occurring in an organization. Building trust and credibility with impacted individuals is a critical component of a successful change initiative—whether it is a transformative, enterprise technology rollout or a small project that impacts only a few teams.

Conducting a stakeholder analysis is a useful strategy to understand change impacts on the workforce. Stakeholder analysis produces a role-based view of the affected business units. Understanding organizational roles is a key part of people-focused change management. To gain this understanding, follow the four steps below.

Step 1Establish Liaisons

Begin by establishing a team of liaisons from stakeholder business units. Liaisons should be able to discuss the roles in their line of business at a deep level and have excellent communication skills. Liaisons are often the change sponsors for their business unit.

Step 2: Identify Organizational Roles

Each change sponsor identifies the impacted organizational roles. It’s important to keep an open mind about the definition of “impacted.” Something as simple as opening a new web application could have a significant impact if it’s a dramatic departure from the current workflow. 

Step 3: Complete Role Profiles

After identifying the impacted roles, the change sponsors document each role’s primary responsibilities. It can be tempting to document how roles will utilize the new technology, but the focus should be on the current state. 

In this step, be sure to engage in discussions with managers and supervisors so that your role profiles are as accurate as possible. This table shows example profiles of common roles at transportation organizations that deploy Esri technology.

Step 4: Discuss Change Impacts

After creating role profiles, it’s time for the change team to discuss the impacts of change on the roles. Change impacts may be underestimated or based on incorrect assumptions. To reduce this risk, hold discussions with the stakeholder managers to assess the true impact of change. These discussions also help prepare those frontline managers for the impending change.

The table below shows examples of how these discussions yield the current and desired states. 

It’s important to discuss change impacts in terms of pain/gain. Acknowledge any pain that will be felt by the roles, such as losing engrained workflows they have confidence in. Present gains in terms that resonate with stakeholders. This will help build acceptance and positive feelings about new workflows and technology.

Don’t be emotionally attached to the technology initiative in this phase. Let resistant stakeholders voice their concerns openly. This can yield the most productive results since misperceptions are often uncovered and honest dialog builds trust.


Making the effort to understand organizational roles is time well spent. The insights gained will help manage individual resistance to change (based on the pain/gain analysis) and plan change-related communications. Fostering an open dialog allows the change team to build trust and address stakeholder concerns. If significant widespread impacts are uncovered, the team may want to consider a phased project approach to deal with one or a few business units at a time. 

As a change management practitioner, I meet with staff filling a variety of roles at organizations that use Esri’s geospatial technology. Recently, I was in a meeting with a team that included a CIO, a system architect, and a business analyst. When I asked how they defined “change management,” they all had different answers.

The reason is that change management is a catch-all term that has many different applications. While there are some similarities, technology change management, as defined by Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), is different from organizational change management, as defined by Dr. John Kotter, Prosci, and other change management experts. (Image source: BMC, Inc. and Prosci, Inc.)

Technology change management is focused on procedures and policies for managing updates and or changes to technology. This procedure can vary by organization but below is a general flow of how this could work: (Image source: Cisco Change Managment Best Practices)

Organizational change management is focused on the people side of the change that is occurring. As such, most of the planning in an organizational change management approach is centered around the human capital of the organization. The business objective is to help people at all levels of the organization transition from the “as-is” to the “to-be.”

When leaders ask, “Which approach should we take?” the answer is almost always both.  

The comprehensive approach helps ensure that technology-driven changes are adopted by the people who are impacted. This process of change tends to be highly cyclical in nature as business requirements and priorities evolve. Using a two-pronged process enables IT to have a more structured approach to managing technology updates while enabling the business side of your organization to minimize disruption by preparing the workforce, at all levels, for changes.

In the current technology landscape of rapid releases that deliver new capabilities, achieving technological and organizational agility is a competitive edge. Addressing the people side of change helps government organizations be more efficient stewards of technology investments by realizing more business benefits.

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