December 3, 2017 Stewart Marshall

It’s All About The People

I read an article recently that discussed the relative merits of half a dozen competitive products that are all designed to bring your staff closer together, making it easier for them to communicate, collaborate, share documents, screens, and so on.

The article was ostensibly about the products themselves, highlighting the super-duper features that each had, or didn’t in some cases, and how adoption of these products would simplify the day to day existence of the many users. This in turn would save time, money, and improve the customer experience meaning that the many thousands of dollars invested in these products would be returned many fold.

How optimistic!

Dreams

This of course may well be the case for some organisations, but what such articles nearly always fail to mention is that adoption of new shiny IT systems is rarely as bright and cheery as it might at first appear.  Sure, these things look great in advertising copy, and when assessed by someone writing an opinion piece, but the reality is often rather different.

I’m reminded at this point of comedian Ben Elton who used to do a little piece on car advertising. What ground his gears was that when we see a car being driven in an ad, it invariably contains a happy loving couple driving along a beautiful road in beautiful country side, enjoying beautiful weather. Birds are singing in the trees, flowers are blooming and all in the world is wonderful and light.

This heavenly environment is of course utterly unrelated to the somewhat dystopian reality that is sitting in traffic, in a city, in the rain, with thousands of other disillusioned souls trying to get to their jobs or homes.

They never show them scraping the ice of the windscreen in the dark, first thing in the morning either, which is another motoring experience that isn’t remotely close to being as much fun as it sounds.

And yes, I’m well aware it doesn’t even sound the slightest bit enjoyable in the first place.

PEBCAK

It’s easy to understand how advertising is so divorced from reality when it comes to cars, but it’s perhaps not so obvious when it comes to IT and software packages. After all, we need do little more than install it on a few devices and we’re good to go, or so we’re told.

There is however, one tiny little wrinkle that ensures that no matter how well designed it is, how brilliant the developers or how well written the help, we’re likely to run in to a few implementation issues.

PEOPLE!

Relationships

Software has bugs: It’s just about inevitable. But as all programmers will tell you, ID-10T errors and users on a picnic (Problem in chair, not in computer) will out number the reports of real issues many times over.

It’s imperative then that when we’re choosing a package or building a tailored solution, the functionality must match not only the needs of the business, but more importantly, those of the user as well. We can make something that has all the bells, whistles and thingummies that we can dream of, but if it fails to engage the user sufficiently, it will not be a success.

And remember, your staff are going to be married to your new solution for many years. If the first date doesn’t go well, the resulting union will likely be somewhat tempestuous.

Invest in People

So, when deciding to invest thousands or perhaps millions of dollars in a solution, remember that the money you spend on the software itself will pale into insignificance compared to the money you’ll spend on the wages of those who use it.

Perhaps then, you should make doubly sure that your users are adequately trained, engaged and motivated, so that using your new technological marvel will be more like a nice drive in the country, and less like the misery of rush hour.


Today’s Top Takeaway

People are expensive and a failure to train them is an opportunity lost.


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