Invest in people first whenever you invest in technology.
It's an all too typical story...
I was chatting with a colleague this week about a new system her organization implemented. The new technology tool was implemented with the intent of stopping loads of emails pinging back and forth between offices, getting stuck in overstuffed inboxes, and lost to the vagaries of poorly documented - or completely undocumented procedures. The intention was fabulous. The implementation, unfortunately, was another story.
The conversation started with something I’ve heard loads of times over the years. “I created the document in Excel like we’ve always done, using the existing template. When I sent it to the office that handles them, they told me there was a new process and now it has to be put in this web template.” I asked her how long the tool has been in place. She was told they were waiting until someone submitted a new request to try it out - lucky her - she was the first guinea pig!
In case you’re wondering, this is the worst way to test and announce a new process tied to a new piece of software.
My colleague went on to explain that the new template was especially interesting because she needed to submit not 1, but 3 new requests - and each one was slightly different and each one uncovered a unique, but perfectly normal (within the scope of this process), aspect of the form that did not work properly. While this colleague is a person who actually enjoys solving these types of problems and working through processes, the office that rolled out this tool got lucky. Instead of getting an angry tirade back that was perfectly justifiable for their lack of attention to the needs of their end users when they built the form, they got someone who was still willing to help them even though they caused her to spend three solid hours on something she had planned to only take 30 minutes today. It was time she had today, but it wasn’t the best use of her time today.
Invest in people up front
Too often, when organizations invest in technology, they do so without the appropriate plans to implement that technology and manage the changes that the implementation will bring. They put administrative and IT people in charge of system process and design rather than sitting with the end user and asking them how the process works and how it should work in the new tool. I’ve watched whole systems be put in place without any true end user testing. Instead, a designated system expert is used as a proxy but that person is more concerned with how data flows in the system and often lacks the practical knowledge that the end user who uses the tool day in and day out has that could make the tool so much better.
To implement technology WITH people, you must invest in the people and the technology up front. Nearly all project plans I’ve seen for technology products put the end user last - at the training stage - rather than putting them up front at the initial implementation. End users need a seat at the table at every part of a technology implementation process.
Let us help
Monarch Strategies LLC and our partnering consultants have decades of experience implementing technology in partnership with people and process in a way that honors all three. We have delivered complex systems on time and on budget to accolades and applause rather than frustrated muttering and outright anger. From project management to process re/design to training and development we can help you make your next technology implementation a success.