By Marilouise Muller
Technology alone is no longer a competitive advantage to most organizations, yet companies are always trying to keep up with the Joneses. After a large technology implementation, organizations are often underwhelmed by the results from technology or fail to receive any results at all. Here are some of the most common reasons:
- The Targets were not clear
Before selecting a new software be clear about the problems it is going to solve. It can either:
- Reduce your costs
- Increase revenue by improving your capacity to deliver your good or service.
If it is not going to do either then you must be clear on what benefit you will receive from the investment. Perhaps it will mitigate risk by moving to a supported system from a legacy application.
It is important that the goal of the implementation is identified and communicated to the project team before starting any implementation efforts. Once the goal of the implementation has been established a defined and quantified picture of success should be developed. It is not enough to quantify the value in terms of budget cuts to the department in the amount of the technology investment.
The results will need to be quantified in terms that all levels of the organization can understand. For example, are you going to reduce the time to delivery to your customer? If so, what does that mean in terms of additional revenue By establishing clear targets, key stakeholders can form realistic expectations on how to achieve them.
- You forgot about the people
The heart of any business (and the most valuable resource) to any organization is the people. Unfortunately, with technology implementations the individuals who will be using it on a day to day basis are often overlooked. IT folk understand that business users need to be trained on the new technology, but little information is gathered on how it will affect their usual process flow and operations. When the human factor is left out of an IT implementation it can result in failure of adoption.
My favourite example of this is collaboration software, allows individuals to collaborate online without having to meet face to face. However, people still have the innate need to collaborate in meetings or at their desks. Typically, what happens is that the process quickly becomes cumbersome and the technology has very low adoption.
The adoption rate of the technology is the single most important driver of success for the implementation. Key stakeholders should be involved at the very beginning of any IT implementation and their needs must be jointly understood with the capabilities of the technology. This will ensure that the old systems are completely shut down.
- The Processes were not aligned
The technology provider told you not to worry about looking at your processes before implementing the latest and greatest technology solution. They told you that the system had built in “Best Practice” processes that have worked in all of their previous brilliant client references. However, business users need to understand how the processes that they are doing today will be accommodated in the new system or they will not trust the new technology.
I have seen customers with parallel processes (my favourite ones are all in Excel) running alongside a system implementation because the staff do not trust the “Best Practice” process that has been implemented because it is missing several key steps. The new technology that has been implemented has not yet been proven to them as being capable of handling all the unique processes that they have created over the years.
It is important that business users are given time to adjust to the stranger (new technology) in the room before they have a chance to trust its capabilities. The fastest way to do this is by creating an environment of understanding for the current way of doing things and outlining the key processes required.
For your organization to fully realize the results of a new technology, many things need to occur prior to implementation. It is important to identify key stakeholders to form an understanding of why a new technology is required and what it will do. But, once a decision has been made to proceed, engage your employees to outline their current processes and pain points. There are no shortcuts to a successful technology implementation; each organization is made up of different individuals and operates in a slightly different manner. Do the work upfront to ensure that the new technology will be the right fit for your organization.