Corporate life is filled with complaints about how the technology we use is making life difficult and creates more work and enslaves us all. How many enraged colleagues are nearly ready to smash their laptop screens after the 19th call to a centralised help desk that just can’t help?
Whether the technology is for Recruitment, HR, or Finance, no one ever seems to understand why or how in the first place the product was ever implemented and bemoaning the clear lack of any transformation that these systems bring. If this technology rage was converted to rad rage our roads would be littered with deaths on a scale unimaginable.
Corporate technology companies sell the dream of business transformation and a nirvana, where everyone’s work in radically changed into meaningful, value adding work. Additionally, promise of being able reinvent the business with ‘Big Data’ is never far from the lips of those super smart technology salesmen who as the ink is drying on the contract disappear faster than a politicians promise.
A member of my team recently declared that she thought the search function in our Application Tracking System was ‘ Fantastic and this would be really good for everyone to use’… Pure genius you may think. The system has been implemented for over 7 years….. If the vision for using any technology product is to create nirvana, then we must question whether we are prepared to change ourselves and processes to make this happen?
Having been responsible for implementing systems and being on the receiving end of poor implementations, I have several views that are worth discussing and by no means does the fault always sit with one party and I think there valuable issues to debate and learn from.
I’ll begin with the client organisation. It is imperative that the scope/brief is clearly articulated and defined before any selection begins. SO many projects fail this hurdle. It might sound, to quote Basil Fawlty, as ‘ the bleedin’ obvious’ but it is critical.
Leadership has a role in this as well to inspire the end users of the case for change or disruption. How many projects fail because the decision to transform has been made at the top of the organisation with little or no consultation for the actual users. I am sure we have all been guilty at some point. Why not allow some of the users to be involved in the selection process? After all it is they who will have to manage and run processes on a day to day basis.
Change management is an element that is often overlooked or misunderstood. Successful technology implementations I have been a part of, have invested time, effort and money in understanding this essential element. Being mindful that not everyone will like, accept or be capable to deal with the change. It is essential these people are treated with dignity and either redeployed or exited. Harsh as this may sound, changed processes may means new ways of working that not everyone can accept.
When it comes to technology companies, the focus, it seems is always on the product and not the change required. Super slick salespeople are more interested in ‘Wowing’ us with the technology than helping us clients understand the true implications of the change we are embarking on. I encourage these organisation to think differently about how salespeople are rewarded. Might paying bonuses when the project is implemented to the satisfaction of the customer, instill some ownership and responsibility to develop a trusted partnership rather than throw the problem over the fence?
Maybe this change in approach from both sides of the game, might help us to truly inhabit the nirvana of where technology really does transform our world of work, rather than consign us to being constant grumblers?