Getting buy-in and user adoption for an IT project within a company is often more challenging than businesses expect.
According to the research house Gartner, about 70 percent of IT projects fail – in Ireland we have a fairly spectacular recent memory of the PPARS system the health service tried to install in 2005. Two major issues that led to its downfall were a lack of buy-in by staff and a failure to adapt to change because there was a lack of direction and foresight into how it would benefit the workplace.
While vendors who sell so-called solutions into companies often see their success as the implementation of the project, how the technology is used and adopted by people within the organisation can be forgotten.
According to John Purdy, chief executive of Ergo, vendors talk about the technological deployment of successful projects and get tied up with the technology and don’t focus on the outcomes. “Generally, a project will need to get where it’s supposed to from a scope and a tech requirement – so all those boxes will be ticked. It’s often the case, though, that some vendors don’t look at the user adoption and the success of the project from the organisational perspective.”
Purdy pointed to a simple example of how companies often pay huge money for software licences and end up using only 30 per cent of the product’s functionality.
“One of the drums I’m beating is that it’s no longer good enough to deliver a project technically well – we’ve got to be able to deliver the outcomes. The reason an organisation will invest in a piece of tech is to do something – to increase sales, margins, better serve customers, deliver on service agreements, reduce inventory and so on".
“So unless we’re delivering on the outcomes then we can spend day and night delivering on tech-proficient projects that, quite frankly, IT directors and tech people get off on but actually don’t deliver the business outcomes. “In my view the tech is a given, so it’s really about how we can bring an organisation through the adoption and into a new level of service delivery or, as I’m starting to call it, ‘the promised land’. “Once we understand what the promised land is and the customer buys into it, that’s how we should deliver on projects and measure them.”
Purdy says delivering a better service so that users completely know about and employ the technology to its limits is going to be the next big thing in terms of value offering to customers. “Delivering the project successfully is a given. However, it’s now about having the capability as an organisation to deliver it with business values and demonstrate a return on investment". “It’s more about the outcomes and less about the tech. It’s also more about: What I can do with this tech?”
For instance, Purdy points out that different people in companies will want different things from the same technology. A chief executive will want profitability figures, a chief financial officer might want the cost of materials and current currency stats, while the head of sales will want something sales related. “We can give people the tech to do all of the reporting they want.
“But unless we can put it into a dashboard that says to them: ‘Here’s the 10 things you want to measure every day and here’s how you get them’ – that’s where the tech and the business intertwine and interface.
Ultimately, though, it is also about breaking down the resistance to change that is inherent in almost every workplace. ‘To this end Ergo sets up scenario- based exercises with employees throughout an organisation at every level. And using working demos it shows how using new ways of working means you do not have to be at your desk or use a traditional PBX to communicate.
“We have to bring organisations on a journey and show them: here’s the traditional way you work and here’s new ways to. “For instance, you don’t have to be in front of a desktop from nine to five, and this means we can work in a whole new way and interface with the business remotely and that’s the sort of value we can drive into organisations.
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