Get business buy-in when replacing a legacy system

Get business buy-in when replacing a legacy system

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June 04, 2014
CIO Transform 3

An Interview with Matthew Richard, CIO of Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA), which represents 500,000 construction workers.

The Enterprisers Project (TEP): You are overhauling legacy systems for a huge labor union in a field where cutting-edge technology is hardly the norm. What are the biggest challenges?

Richard: We are about one year into the project and it has been moving along nicely thus far although not completed yet. The biggest challenge has been change management. Management has been extremely supportive of the project--that has made everything a lot easier. However, as we begin to roll these new capabilities out to our local affiliates we will be dealing with a workforce that is used to using legacy software. We foresee user adoption as being the largest hurdle to overcome as we move forward.

TEP: Are you doing any special outreach to sell union leaders on the value of the overhaul?

Richard: We have not rolled the tool out to the local affiliates yet. However, we have worked tirelessly to build internal applications that show the value of using the tool immediately to our General Executive Board and headquarters staff. Our approach is to gather our membership data into a better system, show membership trends using a more sophisticated business intelligence tool and create actionable data available any time, anywhere. The beauty of our BPM tool is that it enables us to do all of that in a single application while ensuring the integrity of our data.

TEP: What were some of the prime motivators for overhauling the legacy system?

Richard: Engagement, data integrity, and business intelligence capabilities were the three main drivers in making the decision to replace our legacy solution with BPM. As previously mentioned our local affiliates are using a variety of tools to manage their locals. We are hoping that centralizing that into a single system will help alleviate some of the data integrity issues.

This tool will also empower our local business managers to work from any mobile device. This is crucial as many, if not all of them are working full-time on job sites as well. The social, mobile and BI capabilities of our solution should enable better engagement, better data and better decisions.

TEP: Any advice for other CIOs looking to overhaul legacy systems at traditional-style organizations?

Richard: I have a simple set of rules I follow when it comes to overhauling legacy systems: know the business, know the users and engage them throughout the entire process. The beauty of BPM is that it allows you to speak the language of the business while building an application. You'll never be successful in deploying applications if you don't have the buy-in of the people that are going to use it, or if you fail to show value early in the process.

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Minda Zetlin is a business technology writer and columnist for She is co-author of "The Geek Gap: Why Business and Technology Professionals Don't Understand Each Other and Why They Need Each Other to Survive," as well as several other books. She lives in Snohomish, Wasington. Find her at

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