I am looking for some advice in how to start a culture shift with our users.
I have been put in charge of an application whose users are all internal users managing the data of their programs. Once upon a time this application was in Oracle forms and they were essentially directly connected to the database and were making changes willy-nilly and had a very good grasp on the database structure. This resulted in requests coming to the programmers in charge of these forms in the form of implementation requests instead of business needs, i.e. “We need a ‘has been printed’ flag in the certificate table.” These Oracle forms at some point were converted into an application with a flash front end with services that talked to the database. This created some uneasiness with the users since there was now a layer of code between them and the database and they felt they didn’t have control anymore. Couple that with short staffing that made every fix for them a band-aid that only fixed part of the problem and the result is no trust in the programming staff and broken communication channels.
The problem now: As I see it there needs to be a culture change to get the users to start talking in business needs and trust me to figure out the best implementation. I have an opportunity to take the time to fix the mess of business rules being scattered across the front-end, services, directly in the database itself, or not defined at all (my predecessor ran a number of scripts manually routinely to fix bad data the code was creating). However, the users see me as trying to take away what little control they have left. I have started gaining a little trust from some of the users just by showing them that I am not looking for band-aid solutions and permanently fixing some of their smaller frustrations and making sure they are involved in the process appropriately. Some of the trust wall has started tearing down but I need some bigger movements if this project is to move forward. It is also worth noting that I seem to have my supervisor’s back. I had a brief conversation with him earlier and he said this isn’t the first time he has heard this complaint from our team and wants to have a larger conversation on what our next steps are but I am not sure myself what the best next step should be!