Technology on its own will not transform a business or lead to productivity improvements. It’s all too common for businesses these days to believe that the latest technology will lead to improved productivity, more streamlined processes and higher employee engagement. It’s like the old “if you build it they will come” adage – if we implement this new tech all our problems will be solved. This rarely, if ever, proves true, and often results in under-utilised technology, employee resistance and a shadow IT culture.
It is a well-known fact that 70% of IT projects fail due to ‘people-related’ issues.
When looking at any business transformation or change project, many organisations fail to realise they are taking on far more than just a technology project. As businesses, we must fundamentally change the way we measure the success of technology implementation projects, and recognise the importance of people being at the heart of every project.
People, Process and Technology - alignment of all three is crucial to success.
In this blog, I explore the fundamentals behind the People, Process and Technology concept, and explore ways to overcome common some of the obstacles that arise in businesses when these three key areas are overlooked.
Change is hard! Implementing the right technology can facilitate an increase in business revenue and growth, but you have to bring people along with you and focus on user adoption of technology, and how you will implement this.
To truly achieve success and realise the full potential of any technology is dependent on the adoption of it by your users. Technology can transform the way your business operates and can lead to significant business results. But, this ability can only be realised if users willingly change the way they work. And users will only change the way they work if they are aware of the benefits they will receive. This is commonly referred to as WIIFM: 'what's in it for me?'
The most successful technology implementation projects rely on a user adoption programme; one that first listens to and understands your users' needs and requirements and brings those users on a journey to adopt a new way of working. Dispel myths, avoid rumours and break down the fear of the unknown by talking to your users frequently about the who, what, where, why and how of the change. When users can personally relate to the change and understand the value of the technology, they are more likely to adapt and adopt the change. By building trust early, you can help prepare users for what's coming, and identify early adopters. These early adopters, in turn, can champion the technology and become your brand ambassadors for change.
The first step to ensuring a successful technology change project: put your users at the heart of your project. Understand how they do their jobs to enable you to communicate the benefits of a new way of working. Communicate change early and frequently.
Defining business process outputs and success metrics is a crucial element of implementation success. By nature, technology changes often bring a degree of structure; existing processes can be made more efficient, improved or even changed altogether.
Take the time to ensure you and your technology implementors understand the current internal structures in your organisation and the ways that your users do their daily jobs. Sometimes, the perceived least important element of a user's daily way of working gets overlooked and can lead to a process breakdown later down the line, all because that user wasn't consulted and their role/process was not fully understood. Technology tools can help you discover the way your users get things done and where process bottlenecks are, without forcing them into inflexible processes.
The second step to ensuring a successful technology change project: encourage users to participate in the ongoing improvements and business process design. Any technology implementation or change programme should allow users to dictate process, not vice versa.
Why doesn't technology on its own lead to an increase in efficiency? The most common pitfalls are substandard user interface design, confusing user experience or badly crafted processes (usually a combination of all three!) It is for this very reason that we always stress the importance of aligning People, Process and Technology.
Technology needs to be aligned to the needs of the users; it is much more important and beneficial in the long-run to put the right technology into the hands of your users, in the right way and at the right time.
To improve technology adoption and usage, you first need to understand how your users are doing things and the current state of play in the business. Using analytics tools and services will give you a holistic view of your business' capabilities and allow you to manage your change project with minimal impact to your end users, while ensuring a smooth transition from old to new.
The third step to ensuring a successful technology change project: when evaluating new technology, start from the most basic level. What's not working, what can be expected to change with newly implemented technology, and how will success be measured?
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If your organisation is considering making investments in technology, take the People, Process and Technology approach to maximise your chances of achieving both a successful implementation and the business benefits you were hoping for.