You did your homework, got buy-in from the C-suite, and implemented the fabulous IT software application on time and slightly under budget. All the early indications were smooth sailing toward streamlined processes, increased productivity, ongoing cost savings and a happy user population.
A year later, the user population is grumbling, your IT department is constantly rushing to fix bugs in the system, enterprise productivity is a train wreck and the C-suite wants to know what happened to the promised cost savings.
What went wrong?
Nine times out of ten, when successful implementations result in failure or disappointment a year later, the fault can be found in one of two areas, and usually both:
- Effective communication about the new system, policy or process and procedures that relate to the user population – before, during, and well after implementation. If they don’t know how or why the new system will make their lives easier, the natural human resistance to change can derail even the best of systems. One or two e-blasts won’t do the trick; either – most people need plenty of repetition and constant reinforcement before they accept significant change. If you build awareness of the new program ahead of time you can actually create a desire for change, and half the battle is won.
- Proper education for everyone involved with the new IT system or program. It’s almost counterintuitive. Of course you included training as part of the implementation process … but how good or effective was it? How much training did users receive? Where and when did they receive it? Most important, was ongoing training available as users climbed the learning curve? Is it still available? Most sexy new IT programs are terrific, but complicated. You simply cannot take a shortcut when it comes to training!
Obvious as these two steps may seem, they are neglected or under-funded all too frequently. The result is a terrible record of failed ITAM implementations.
In general, IT projects have a terrible record for failure. The Conference Board surveyed key executives from 117 companies, who indicated that 40 percent of their IT projects had failed to achieve their objectives within a year of going live. KPMG Canada reported a similar survey in which 61 percent of IT projects analyzed were deemed failures.
Five Foundational Footsteps to Success
With an intense relationship between communication and education and success for ITAM projects, what are some of the most effective communication and education steps to ensure success for your ITAM program?
- Understand the objectives. While the ITAM project or program has objectives, make certain each step of your communication and education also has its own unique objective – from making people feel comfortable with the impending change or to ascertain whether the training has helped and users are proficient. By setting a unique goal for each step, this ensures the success of your overall communication and education program as well as the success of the overall ITAM project or program.
- Write it out. Make certain that your communication and education program is well thought out and well-planned. By putting it in writing and adding milestones to each process, it keeps the program running smoothly – on schedule, just like any IT implementation.
- Align with the ITAM program. As many more companies today are dynamic due to market or industry conditions, it is important to align your communications and education program with the ITAM program and the overall goals of the company. As with the dynamic company, ITAM programs have a tendency to shift focus or priorities. Therefore, the communications and education program must follow.
- Change with the changing tides. Groups change constantly. In certain industry sectors or groups, there may be a higher turnover rate, while others may retain people for decades. Or, in others, there may be change due to mergers, acquisitions or even growth. There are a multitude of scenarios. The point here is that the work group can change and communication and education must be an ongoing program to help streamline process, create efficiency and promote a happy, healthy work environment.
- Remember it’s about people. Ironically, people in organizations tend to forget that people are the heart of company and technology is just a tool they use. Put people first. While technology – software, laptops, mobile phones, etc. – are the veins of the company. Without the people, the company would come to a standstill. People need to buy into the new technology rollouts, the enhancements, the new processes or whatever else is new or changing. It’s about changing their mindset from “I never get any say” or “this is never going to work” to “this is a great idea” and “this is going to make my job easier.” So, remember to involve them at the beginning of the process and you’ll understand how people are truly impacted – from various initiatives to different departments.
So….Your Chance of Success Just Improved Dramatically
Pay attention to the Communication and Education Key Process Area (KPA) and your chances of success improve dramatically because:
- Overall employee resistance will decrease significantly. Providing sound, rational supporting facts about why the changes are occurring plus a step-by-step process for adapting to the change will almost always increase support and understanding.
- Managers – especially team leaders and middle management – will more readily provide resources and sponsorship of the whole process if they receive special communications and training up front. This will make them co-owners of the new system or policy, and the productivity gains and cost reductions could make them zealous advocates.
- Projects are much more likely to stay on time and on budget, with less disruption during the transition.