The Best Technology Doesn’t Matter if the Implementation is Poor


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Choosing the best technology for your business isn’t as simple as buying the most expensive or cutting edge option. Whether you’re a startup investing in the framework of your business or an established organization ready for an upgrade, purchasing decisions are always daunting tasks. The increasing variety of business software available (each with its own laundry list of options to choose from) means every business has something to gain, regardless of their industry. A recent study by IBM found that first time CEOs now expect technology to surpass market trends as the most influential element on their organizations and strategy.

Most purchasers of business technology (57 percent) consider the investment a “business requirement.” Even small businesses are investing in tools like business intelligence (BI) software and employee training software in an effort to keep up with the competition. According to Gartner, revenue from BI platforms, corporate performance management (CPM) suites, analytic applications, and advanced analytics totaled $14.4 billion in 2013, jumping eight percent from 2012.

Potential cost saving (54 percent) and improved functionality (52 percent) were also top reasons for tech purchases, followed by less influential motives such as reduction of overhead and administration (20 percent), consumerization of IT (19 percent), and merger and acquisition (16 percent).

However, the next and best edition of cutting edge tech doesn’t automatically equal a business advantage. Even after identifying the right product, an organization must invest in proper training and achieve staff buy-in to make its implementation a success. A major transition is managed properly internally when it is nearly invisible externally. While a seamless switch is not always possible for a staff, minimizing change and challenges for customers is an absolute necessity.

Getting it right the first time.

The most difficult system for any employee to learn is the next one. Regardless of whether your team loved or loathed the old system, they will typically become anxious when new technology is introduced. Even if they requested the change, poor implementation can still wreak havoc on productivity. To ensure a successful transition, businesses need to be prepared for negative initiation reactions, a potential learning curve, and the need for IT follow-up.

“Choosing, buying, and deploying software is a huge investment of time and resources, so you want to make sure you’re getting it right the first time around,” said Preeti Upadhyaya, a content specialist at WebDAM. “Be sure to request sandbox environments and full-featured demos for all the solutions you’re evaluating, get everyone from your project committee to do the trial, and compare the results of each demo to the outcomes you outlined as a project committee.”

Although research and experimentation typically falls on the shoulders of the IT Director/Manager, coordinating input across IT and business roles has a major impact on the success of technology integrations. The more involved team members are in the purchasing decision, the better prepared they will be once the new system is in place.

“The most important thing I can emphasize is getting leadership buy in and support,” said Upadhyaya, whose Silicon Valley company handles digital asset management. “You’re going to get much more successful adoption if people at the management level are pushing the use of the software and monitoring it.”

Multiple system shifts are a nightmare.

Recovering from change takes time. This lengthy inconvenience can eventually snowball, creating serious frustrations within the team that will trickle down into customer service. Mark Bisaillon, owner of Cairnedge Consulting, experienced this with a client switching from QuickBooks Pro to its online version.

”Their data migration didn’t go smoothly,” says Bisaillon. “They did not set expectations with their staff about changes to the (user interface), process, workflow, etc., so these folks went in expecting a seamless transition. They were not adapting to the new workflow, couldn’t find accounts and transactions, and couldn’t figure out how to customize invoices. After a month of this, we had to start the slow transition process back to the PC/Server-based version of the software.”

This lack of communication, preparation, and training often results in poor service and lengthy delays that jeopardize relationships with customers new and old. In this example, reversing the decision ended up costing the company even more money. They still needed an upgrade from their original software, so they purchased QuickBooks Premiere as an alternate solution. Now they had incurred the additional cost of the second upgrade — which included features they didn’t need — as well as the time required for the staff to learn yet another program.

“What was initially a good choice to move to the cloud-based version of an accounting application turned into a very bad experience due to not setting expectations, not researching and documenting current processes and workflow, not investing in ongoing training, and not investing in transitional premium support services.”

Your change management strategy directly influences employee retention.

In addition to losing customers, organizations that do not manage change well are four times more likely to lose talent. In a recent study, 20 percent of employees who perceived change in their workplace was handled ineffectively indicated they planned to leave within one year.

The disruption that can ensue when an unsuccessful purchasing decision is made often ripples through an organization and can lead to a decline in both employee engagement and morale. Poor decisions, such as a lack of communication between management and IT or end-users, often causes employees to feel undervalued and lose trust in the organization as a whole. Those internal problems are usually reflected externally in the way employees represent the business and how they interact with customers. If a team doesn’t believe in its company and its leaders, it certainly can’t convince customers to do so either.

In order to avoid falling victim to such mismanaged change, it’s crucial to layout a game plan in advance and make sure you achieve employee buy-in before you begin implementation. Showing your employees or team the clear benefits of a new system, and reminding them of their problems with the current software, will go a long way to ensuring that your transition goes off without a hitch.

Charlotte Ritter
Charlotte Ritter is a technology analyst at TechnologyAdvice . She covers a variety of business technology topics, including business intelligence, gamification, and project management software.


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