Introducing new information technology in an organization presents many new opportunities as well as challenges. At best, the information technology will help an organization excel to new levels that it has never experienced in the past. At worst, it can be a waste of time and money and can lead to frustration and stalled careers. Many failed information technology initiatives are also incorporated into the organization’s memory, which leads to future avoidance of the technology because, in everyone’s view, the technology “didn’t work in the past”. This could be a significant missed opportunity as many competitors may embrace the technology and use it to gain a competitive advantage. This is why it is important to create a plan for the implementation of new information technology.
Typically, when organizations had a successful information technology implementation, they took a pragmatic approach, which led to acceptance among those utilizing the technology and those who were impacted by it. They also understood that above all, marketing and sales skills were just as important as technological skills in achieving a successful implementation. They understood that implementing new information technology isn’t just a technical effort, but more importantly an internal communications effort. They understood that they had to constantly sell the benefits of the technology to all stakeholders during the process.
This is how successful organizations approached information technology implementations.
Organizations are always approached with novel new information technology that could bring greater profits or lower costs. However, adopting the technology without consideration of the end users often leads to unsuccessful outcomes.
Successful organizations nearly always considered the impact on their end users when deciding on which new information technology to introduce into the organization. Implementers typically started off by having a firm grasp over the current processes or issues that the technology would replace or enhance. Oftentimes, they would sit with the end users and observe the pre-existing processes first hand in order to become familiar with them. They identified the pain points that the technology would address as well as the organization’s objectives for the new technology. These organizations considered aspects of the new information technology such as user-friendliness, usefulness, and the value to the end users as a key criteria when selecting the new technology. They were also careful to evaluate how the technology would address end user pain points as part of the technology evaluation process. They were well aware that selecting information technology without the users in mind risked a failed implementation, which would cost them invaluable time, resources, and missed opportunities.
Successful companies determined the motivating factors within their organizations for adopting the new technology. When they were replacing existing technology, they identified which aspects of the old technology were primarily used and which aspects of the new technology were improvements over the old. They identified all of the benefits of the new technology and their target objectives.
The benefits typically included:
Improved customer experience
They typically set 90 day to 120 day milestones for measuring the benefits of the technology. If any of the objectives were financial in nature, they determined their current metrics so they had a pre-implementation snapshot of the relevant numbers.
Successful implementations nearly always had highly visible support from executive management. This support signaled to the rest of the organization that the project was important and any attempts to thwart the success of the project would be frowned upon. Implementers often had their executives send out a company-wide email or memo endorsing the technology prior to implementation. The communication notified everyone about the new project, who was in charge of implementation, the timeline for implementation, and most importantly, why the technology was crucial to the success of the organization. When the messaging came from the top of the organization, individuals that the implementation managers were dependent on were more cooperative when it came to completing their respective responsibilities during the implementation process.
Successful organizations assigned various roles to those implementing information technology. Multiple roles could be taken on by an individual or a specific role could be assigned to each person. It was critical to assign roles for the project to ensure that there was accountability and forward progress with the implementation plan.
This was a fairly high-level person who ensured that the project received adequate financial and manpower resources and understood how to move things forward within the organization. They also served as a resource when challenges arose with the implementation process and could “unstick” issues that blocked the progress of the project. This person was often a senior executive who had the power and influence to push initiatives through.
This was typically the internal marketer, salesperson, and face of the project. They worked with the various stakeholders that needed to be involved in implementation of the project. Oftentimes, the champion led the initial effort to acquire the technology and it was their name that was attached to it. Their reputation was often built by the success of the project or tarnished by its failure. They were usually with the organization long enough to have the respect and credibility needed to win over the other stakeholders whose involvement was needed to implement the technology.
This person handled the day to day logistics of implementing the project. They managed the implementation roadmap, training, support, etc. They were well organized and had the authority needed to move their efforts forward.
This person was hands-on in the implementation of the project. They either handled the technical integrations, coordinated training sessions, or managed workflow modifications. They also managed other conflicting priorities to ensure that it was on the top of the implementation list. This role often typically required good communication skills.
Subject Matter Experts
These are end users that received a special designation and assisted in training the other end users. Their involvement in the implementation of the technology gave it more credibility among the end users.
Successful implementations involved mid-level managers and supervisors in their communications strategy. Implementers understood that uncooperative managers and supervisors had the power to thwart technology implementations and their involvement was a critical aspect of the implementation plan.
Since organizations are dependent on managers to promote user adoption, they need to be invested in it. One way that organizations were able to have the managers invested in the technology was to involve them in the implementation planning process. They were often asked for their feedback as to what they thought was the best approach to implementing the technology. Since some managers believed that the new technology may subvert their authority, their help was also enlisted with end user training to ensure that they felt secure in their roles.
Oftentimes, it was communicated to the managers how the technology would personally benefit them. An emphasis was placed on how it would help them improve certain KPI’s or reduce operating costs that could lead to higher bonuses. The technology was often presented in a way that aligned with one of their current business objectives.
In the case of a Field Resource Management solution, these stakeholders typically include:
Safety & risk managers
If implementing FieldLogix, a plan should be devised to present the benefits of a successful roll out to each of these individual managers. For example, the safety benefits of the technology could be presented to safety managers, while the vehicle health benefits could be presented to fleet managers. These benefits should focus on how the technology will help make their jobs easier or give them more time to focus on more important tasks.
Successful implementations also acknowledged that stakeholders who did not use the technology directly had a different perspective than those that interacted with it on a daily basis. This included VP or C-level executives. The benefits presented to these stakeholders were generally more objective in nature. This included a focus on the potential return on investment or how it aligned with the company’s strategic objectives (i.e. a focus on sustainability or improvement of customer service).
While unsuccessful implementations often relied on brute force and coercion of the end users to gain adoption. Successful organizations employed a much more collaborative approach.
At the beginning of the implementation process, end users were often interviewed to determine what they found especially frustrating about their current processes. The interviewer also determined how their current processes negatively impacted others that they interacted with. The interviewer helped them see the inefficiencies with the current processes and how they wasted time, increased costs, or led to upset customers. The interviewer then explained how the new technology might be able to solve those issues.
When switching from an old information technology, the implementation manager first focused on the functionality that they were used to and how the new technology allowed them to complete the same tasks in a much more efficient manner. They then focused on the improvements offered by the new technology that were not included in the old technology or processes. They explained how it personally benefited the users by making their jobs easier and how it would give them more time to focus on other duties that are more important to the organization. They also sought their feedback in the implementation process to ensure that they were invested in the project’s success.
They helped to mitigate potential pushback by identifying influential users from the various user groups and made them subject matter experts. These users would serve as a training resource for other users. They were often respected, but were neither the least tech savvy nor the most tech savvy to ensure that they were representative of the average user to ensure that the other users would identify with them.
All users were updated on the rollout plan in order to give them time to prepare for the change. This avoided a sudden “shock” implementation that could create resistance due to the fact that the users were not expecting it.
Successful implementations included a calendar-based rollout plan with phases that included start and end dates. This often took the form of a Gantt chart and was managed by spreadsheets or project management software. Milestones were typically set for each phase of the implementation to ensure that the project was progressing according to plan. Local coordinators were assigned to manage installation and training within their respective groups. Meetings were held on a regular basis for the first 90 days after implementation to ensure that the implementation project was meeting its objectives.
In the case of FieldLogix, the local coordinators are responsible for coordinating equipment installations and user training sessions.
Successful organizations always planned for potential roadblocks to information technology adoption and had plans in place to address them. These potential roadblocks would include issues with user adoption, technical glitches, uncooperative stakeholders, shifting priorities, among others. Those who were successful brainstormed with their project leaders for potential issues in order to plan their responses. They also added buffers to their rollout calendar to account for any delays that may arise. They ensured that they had open communication channels with everyone involved in the implementation so that any roadblocks were brought to the surface quickly and addressed before they became larger issues.
Before pushing the technology out to users, the project managers took time to configure the system, setup users, complete integrations, cleanse data, and complete data migrations. They would set up a sandbox environment and have a few of the subject matter experts use the technology to work out any kinks.
With FieldLogix, the primary pre-implementation items are:
Adding users and granting permissions
Setting up users via Single Sign On
Setting up notifications rules
Setting up Integrations
Organizations often took one of three approaches when rolling out new information technology.
The most effective method in rolling out the new technology was the sandbox approach. This entailed setting up a “test-only” mode in a sandbox environment. The users would then learn the new technology during a set number of hours each day for a certain period of time. The users would enter dummy data into the system and interact with it to acclimate themselves with it before the formal change-over date. Since this was isolated from other aspects of their daily workflow, there was little risk of lost productivity or data loss.
This approach entailed a phased change-over during a certain period of time. Key functionality of the old information technology was used at the same time as functionality of the new technology. The functionality of the old that was mission critical, or a key aspect of daily workflows, was kept in place while less critical functionality of the new technology was implemented. At times, this approach required an integration between the two technologies, otherwise there was a significant risk of data loss during the change-over process.
Cold Change Over
This entailed the establishment of a formal date upon which the old technology was shut down and the users were expected to use the new technology immediately. This was the riskiest option because there are always bound to be hiccups with the new technology. There was a high probability that the users experienced a loss of productivity for several days, if not weeks, while acclimating themselves to the new technology or if any technical problems arose post implementation. When using this approach, an organization was better off by “burning the bridges” to the old technology, because if they reverted back to the old technology, they were highly unlikely to see mass acceptance of the new technology when they were ready to reattempt the implementation. However, the cold-change over approach generally worked if the technology wasn’t mission critical or a key part of the users’ daily workflows.
When there was a hardware component that required installation, organizations took one of the following three approaches.
Designated Employee Installation
With telematics systems, the most successful approach entailed assigning internal personnel to install the devices. At times it was a person, or team, from a central or regional office that would complete all of the installations. Other times, it was a person at each local branch that would be responsible for installing the devices at their location. While this is generally the least costly option, it required some oversight to ensure that those responsible for the installation made it a priority. Progress checks were made on a regular basis to ensure that they were completing the installations in a timely manner.
3rd Party Installation
Occasionally, organizations would engage with a 3rd party installer to complete the installations. While this is the most efficient approach, it is also the most costly. 3rd party installations typically come at a cost of $100 to $150 per vehicle. In this case, the installers would come to the customer’s facility and complete a majority of the installations during a single day or over the course of several days, depending on the number of vehicles.
Some organizations shipped the devices directly to the drivers and instructed them to install the devices themselves. While this can be the easiest approach logistically, it could also be the most challenging. Certain technologies, including telematics, could be looked upon negatively by the drivers who believe that it encroaches upon their privacy. They could become uncooperative and may delay installation of the devices for an extended period of time. The best approach with the user installation method was to explain to the drivers how the technology would benefit them personally. This could include protection in the case of accidents, ensuring that the vehicle doesn’t experience breakdowns, quickly finding the driver in the case of a health or safety issue, etc. It requires extensive oversight to verify that all of the installations are completed and that the technology is working as it should.
Successful organizations understood that users tend to learn at their own pace. They ensured that the users had access to training resources and completed any training courses in order to be productive as quickly as possible. They also tried to personalize the training for users based on their competence. They would often have an even mix of tech savvy users and novice users along with average users during training sessions to ensure that the training group was well rounded and not skewed in either direction.
They also assigned internal support resources to each group. This would often consist of IT or the subject matter experts. These resources would serve as a “help desk” for users that encountered issues. They used a well defined process, which often included a ticketing system. The methods used to access all of these resources were properly communicated to the end users.
Successful organizations also understood that user turnover was unavoidable and they created a procedure for training new users as part of each new hire’s on-boarding process.
After implementation of the technology, the implementers typically reviewed the project to determine whether it accomplished its objectives. They also listed any unresolved issues and came up with a plan to address them. They evaluated user adoption to determine whether the technology was being properly utilized.
They also evaluated the results to determine whether the originally anticipated benefits were realized. In addition, they looked for additional benefits that were not anticipated when they acquired the technology.
Fear is often the largest barrier to adoption among users and managers. This includes the fear of a loss of privacy, a loss of control, and a loss of power. In addition, the perception that there are no personal benefits to the users can also be an impediment to adoption.
Loss of Privacy
Successful implementers were prepared to address any privacy concerns that may arise. Employees may be resistant to using technology that exposes any activities that they deem as private. The way that they addressed this was by putting together a simple policy on how the technology would be used, who had access to it, and they provided users with a list of what was deemed private and protected. You can use this guide to craft a monitoring policy for your organization.
Fear of replacement
Sometimes users feared that the technology would make them redundant and at risk of losing their jobs. In successful implementations, these fears were anticipated and plans were put in place to mitigate them prior to implementation. Oftentimes, the users were educated on how they would gain more time to work on more productive activities after implementation.
Loss of control
Sometimes managers felt that the technology might embarrass them since the information that they previously held close might be visible to multiple people within the organization. Issues that they believed that they could manage confidentially, would then become visible to the rest of the organization. This was addressed by using technology that had capabilities to restrict access only to individuals that needed to have access to the information.
Loss of power
In some cases, managers believed that it would lessen their credibility with their subordinates since the subordinates may gain more knowledge about the technology than they had. Successful implementers would identify where the loss of power may occur and illustrated how they may gain more power by using their newly gained time on higher-order activities. They would show how these individuals would gain an expanded influence over their teams by using the technology. They would also enlist them to train the users to ensure that they retained authority over the users.
Fear of change
Implementers realized that in any information technology implementation process, users with a long term investment in certain routines and skills were typically hesitant to give up on the security of those habits. In order to address the fear of change, they educated the users on the benefits of the technology and how it would free them of many menial tasks. To further help with adoption, individualized one-on-one training was offered to them as well as using a phased in adoption approach to lessen their resistance.
Fear of a loss of skills
Other users would be concerned that their important skills could be rendered obsolete by the technology. For example, a dispatcher that relies on her knowledge of the local geography to plan delivery routes, might fear that a route optimization system would reduce the organization’s dependence on her skills. Implementers would explain how they actually would gain new skills by the use of the technology. They would often explain how their old skills were on the way to becoming obsolete anyway and that they needed to gain the new skills associated with the new technology in order to stay relevant.
Absence of personal benefits
The higher the investment of time and effort required to learn the new technology, the more important it was to illustrate the personal benefits received by using the technology. They explained how the technology could help them increase profits, reduce costs, or free up resources in order to help them achieve their personal goals and objectives. Other personal benefits included solutions to longstanding problems experienced by the users, preservation of jobs, better customer satisfaction, etc. Positive feedback was provided to users promptly and continuously. Implementers were careful to ensure that the reward structure aligned with the use of the technology and not against it. They also used rewards and recognition as part of the implementation plan to motivate the users to adopt the technology.
Over-hyping the Information Technology
Successful implementers were careful to avoid over-hyping the technology. When it was over-hyped, users became discouraged when significant benefits were not realized immediately. In these situations, even meaningful improvements may not appear as successful if they did not meet the users’ high expectations.
Successful implementers were continuously observant of two of the most challenging personas to manage during implementations, assassins and hedgers.
Assassins try to shoot down projects. They could be managers or users. These are individuals that are against the technology from the onset for various reasons. They are often looking for mistakes or overlooked issues in the implementation process and are quick to point them out to others within the organization. Their goal is to sabotage the project through various forms of resistance and may put forth their most forceful effort when they notice that the resources allocated to the project are depleting. This resistance often catches the technology advocates by surprise since they often believed that the benefits of the technology were obvious. These individuals’ efforts should not be ignored because they will impact the attitudes of other users within the organization.
How they were addressed:
Successful organizations identified these individuals quickly and took efforts to reduce their resistance.
Implementers would manage assassins by providing one-on-one training with these individuals to keep them isolated from other users so their negative attitudes wouldn’t affect others.
If these individuals began to block certain aspects of the implementation, organizations would modify the chain of command of the implementation process in order to sideline the managers resisting the technology.
Hedgers refuse to take a stand against an innovation, nor will they be a proponent of it. They will sit back and observe as others address their objections and will “sit on the fence” waiting to become either a proponent or a detractor depending on the tide of popular opinion. They are often watching for signals to determine which side to take. They neither help, nor do they hurt implementation early in the implementation process.
To address hedgers, it is important for upper management to signal support of the project through a speech, policy change, email, or memo. They must also signal that they are behind the project regardless of any future budget constraints. The middle level managers must also send these signals in support of the project and explain how they align with the company’s overall objectives. Finally, user metrics may have to be tweaked to ensure that they align with the metrics generated by the new technology, even if it means discarding old obsolete metrics. Organizations also provided a “grace period” during implementation where the old metrics no longer applied in order to give the users some comfort in the change. They also tried their best to give these types of users visibility into their new outputs so they felt that they had more control over their environment.
Many large organizations start with a pilot program prior to a full-scale implementation. Pilot programs are helpful in evaluating a potential provider’s product, usability, and customer support.
There are three primary reasons for pilot programs. To demonstrate feasibility, to show proof, and to serve as a model.
Many pilot programs are put in place to to prove the feasibility of the technology to upper management. A lot of novel new technology is exciting in theory, but impractical in practice. Wise organizations will typically implement a pilot program to prove the feasibility of the technology within their organization. This is often a key requirement in order to gain the approval of upper management.
Other times, pilots are put in place to prove to the organization’s stakeholders that the technology can deliver on its promises. In this case, the pilot program is implemented to ensure that there are no bugs, gaps, or quirks with the technology that would impede the users’ workflow.
Other times, pilots serve as a model for other units in the organization to demonstrate how the technology can benefit them. A successful demonstration of the benefits of the technology within one group can help reduce the barriers to adoption with other groups within the organization.
When selecting a pilot group, organizations often chose a group that was average in performance so that it represented the company as a whole. Successful implementers avoided piloting at the worst performing sites, because their results cannot be replicated across the organization. There was also a risk that the project may fizzle out due to the overall dysfunctions within the worst performing groups. Ironically, if the project succeeded within the worst performing groups, others were quick to point out that anything would have helped the operations within that group, thus diminishing the benefits of the technology.
They also avoided the most innovative groups because others would believe that the group is far from a typical representation of the organization as a whole. They would think that they were successful because they had a better grasp over the technology than any other users could ever hope to achieve. Successful pilots used average groups that are representative of the organization as a whole.
Successful implementers ensured that they were clear on the purpose of the pilot program. They would clearly communicate the purpose of the program, the timeline, and the expected outcomes.
During the program, the implementation team would complete weekly check in calls with users and managers of the groups running the program. They understood that any project that was not continuously discussed would languish.
Prior to the program, successful implementers would take snapshots of any impacted KPI’s before the implementation and would check on improvements during the middle of the program. They would then calculate the KPI’s again after the program was complete. They would then have accurate metrics on the benefits of the technology that they could extrapolate to the organization as a whole.
Implementers were also careful to monitor their provider’s support processes during the program. They wanted to ensure that the vendor was involved as a resource for the users and managers so that any issues would be addressed quickly.
Upon the conclusion of the program, they would evaluate the data provided by the technology to ensure that it met the organizations’ needs and that the outcomes aligned with the company’s objectives. They would also calculate the benefits and savings realized during the program. They would present this data to upper management to help prove their case that the technology would benefit the entire organization.
Implementing new technology within an organization generally requires a pragmatic approach to implementation that considers the needs of all stakeholders and emphasizes communication. Successful organizations considered the various potential roadblocks that could inhibit the adoption of the technology and came up with plans to address them. They often used various approaches to “ease” the technology into the organization to avoid a potential backlash. By properly planning their implementation strategy, they experienced a greater likelihood of success and avoided failures that could cost them time, money, and a potential competitive advantage.
Step by Step Implementation Guide for Your Business
4 Best Practices for Implementing New Technology
Introducing New Technology to Your Organization