For years, System Designer Barry Crates has
been immersed in the technology of radio
communications networks, calculating system
capacity, crafting specific solutions, and
mapping customer requirements to the real-world challenges of system design. That is all
essential, important and highly-skilled work.
Like many engineers, Barry saw Change Management
as the responsibility of those who work in Human
Resources – a “soft and fluffy” aspect of business
operations that would happen long after the system
design was safely locked in place. Tasked with designing
a system for a complex Australasian transport network,
he quickly discovered that this was a customer with
While it is not unusual to see Change Management
specified and provisioned in a project, it was certainly
different to see it specified as an end-to-end activity,
that was everyone’s responsibility, and as critical to the
project outcome as any technical solution. This customer
had identified Change Management as crucial to their
safety goals; that no change could occur unless they were
satisfied that the public and their staff would be safe.
Suddenly, system design was about so much more than
RF coverage, channel capacity, and system monitoring.
It was all about the people, and how every system design
element must be specifically engineered to keep them
safe and able to do their job effectively.
Here was an organization committed to doing
things differently. Their project team showed a deep
understanding of the changes that workers would need
to make, in the way they worked. The massive scope of
the project would mean a transition over several years,
with several potentially-disruptive changes along the
way. At every decision point, safety of their workers and
the public was the first priority.
To ease that transition, Tait system designers would
need to match the current user experience as closely as
possible at every step towards the new communications
solution. They would need to consult, consider and
communicate with workers, long before the usual pre-
deployment training. Failure to address their concerns
and suggestions, or to give them plenty of warning of the
impending change risked uncertainty and resistance.
They needed to be able to pick up a new radio and
instinctively know how to use it, based simply on their
knowledge of their existing radio solution. Change to the
user interface was to be minimal.
Tait was contracted to educate radio users prior to any
change occurring, then to provide refreshers closer to
deployment, with the responsibility for managing the
change shared between Tait and our customer.
The first barrier to that was the conventional approach.
Barry explains: “A customer’s migration to a new
communication system looks very different to them,
than it does to us as a supplier.” He believes it is difficult
for suppliers to see beyond the technology they are
providing. However, for most customers, the changes to
their communications technology are usually just a small
part of wider organizational changes in the way they
carry out their work. They want communications that
don’t get in the way of their work. To completely