People: The forgotten element of IT

System upgrades and implementations represent a significant investment of time and money.  However the return on investment and potential to transform an organisation is invaluable. Ask any IT manager what they consider to be the main criteria for a successful upgrade project and the odds are they will mention the need to get the architecture right and the importance of attention to detail during the build. The most commonly forgotten, and equally important elements, are the non-IT related components of the upgrade project such as the change management and communication strategies that facilitate by-in of end users and adoption of the newly upgraded system

Without user acceptance, the return on investment may be significantly reduced and the opportunity to turn system capabilities and functionality into positive business benefit may be wasted.

The best way of achieving user buy-in is through a change management strategy.  By applying proven techniques and approaches it is possible to develop an implementation plan that engages managers, motivates learners, and energises the entire organisation.

Overcoming resistance

One of the greatest challenges when upgrading a system is employee resistance to change. Instead of seeing a system implementation as a ‘transformation’ for the organisation, employees simply see more work and processes to learn.

Employees typically resist change for two reasons:

1. Lack of motivation and/or

2. Lack of ability

A successful change management plan must address both these issues.  Failure to handle change management effectively can lead to decreases in productivity, persistent resistance to change, lower customer service levels, and valued staff leaving your business. If staff don’t trust leadership, fail to share the organisation’s vision, don’t understand the reason for change or if they aren’t included in the planning, then there is unlikely to be any successful change – regardless of how brilliant the new IT system is.

[Next: Communication is key]