Deploying New Technology Requires Diplomacy

Birgit Nazarian, Writer, specializing in IT and HR | 4/2/2012 | 22 comments

Birgit Nazarian
In education, government, healthcare, and corporate business, deploying new systems and technology doesn't usually go so smoothly for everyone. In fact, CIOs surveyed consistently report that poor end-user adoption of new technology can be a significant road block to realizing a project's success and ROI. Even more disturbing, in a recent survey compiled by Neochange with Oracle UPK (registration required), end users' productivity can actually drop by as much as 17 percent after a system is deployed.

Deploying new systems, enterprise software with electronic storage, and other intangibles in places where filing cabinets crammed with manila folders still give users a sense of control requires thorough planning and more than a dose of psychology. While IT personnel take the challenges of working with new technologies in their stride, many end users feel apprehensive about changing from systems they are already accustomed to. But a project's success or failure rides on the end users' confidence and willingness to adopt. For that reason, a diplomatic approach to winning over end users must be integrated into any rollout.

In the case of deployment of new systems in the enterprise aimed at internal users, the IT group normally chooses the new system, prepares a plan for deployment focusing on the technology more than the people, and then installs and runs it. Once deployed to the general masses, they assume or hope that the end users will embrace it and work out the learning of the new system mostly by themselves. But if you think back upon past deployments you may have experienced, you know what really happens: some of the more adventurous users tackle the learning curve without much ado, but other users (the less tech-savvy, perhaps) can respond with resentment, tears of frustration, and even accusations that the system is faulty. For CIOs and project leaders, seeing a system they’ve carefully chosen not used to its full potential -- or not used at all -- is disheartening at best.

The key to successful user adoption is to place the importance of the human factor above the technology. Users need to agree with the IT department that the deployment of this new system is valuable to them. From the top up, confidence in the project and the value of the new technology must be solid. Provided that the planning, testing, and installation have been successfully and fully executed up front, the IT team needs to arm itself with patience and total confidence in their project to sell it successfully to users. No matter what the reaction within the organization in the early stages of the transition, IT operations and support need to be steadfast. They own the project and should resist taking any negative feedback personally as they focus on the larger picture.

Make sure pre-planning is thorough by doing a complete inventory of user environments; identifying where upgrades in software, hardware, or middleware are needed; and carrying out pre-deployment work. Thoughtfully plan your post-deployment support needs by brainstorming, drafting documentation, hiring trained support staff, and distributing end-user help resources. Be sure to announce the deployment in a positive forum and tout the benefits to users.

When it comes to deployment of the system, try it first with power users you’ve identified who are most likely to have a positive reaction and can encourage or even tutor other users. When full deployment has been reached, survey users to identify what, if any, concerns they have and try to address them quickly. The deployment of a new system should consist of two parts -- a "before" and an "after." Seeing it this way helps the IT team remember that post-deployment, the project enters another phase in which the real ROI happens.

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Gigi   Deploying New Technology Requires Diplomacy   4/2/2012 11:49:44 PM
Re: how to get the end user on your side?
"In education, government, healthcare, and corporate business, deploying new systems and technology doesn't usually go so smoothly for everyone"

Birgit, exactly. There is always a resistance for adopting or embracing new technologies. This is true especially with senior managements because they are quiet familiar with the existing way of doing things. Once if we implement the new technology also, for them it may take some time to cop up with the changes.
Pedro Gonzales   Deploying New Technology Requires Diplomacy   4/2/2012 10:03:33 PM
new technology
great article, this is very crucial topic that IT department should really look at when making any type of upgrades to a new system.  As we all know, upgrades and new versions of a software product are daily occurrance in the lifecycle of a software, each software comes with new features that weren't in the old one, this is even more crucial when a total system upgrade or replacement of a system is needed.
batye   Deploying New Technology Requires Diplomacy   4/2/2012 5:43:09 PM
Re: how to get the end user on your side?
I think it would make sense to create in the Co. IT department policy with ideas betwen planning into phase of the deployment end user input would be a must...
bnazarian   Deploying New Technology Requires Diplomacy   4/2/2012 4:33:08 PM
Re: how to get the end user on your side?

It isn't easy, that's why more planning needs to go into that phase of the deployment than is traditionally given. A lot of IT departments probably think of the support and training after deployment as a luxury because it does require more time and resources to help out the end users who may struggle or be resistant. I think identifying power users in departments can really be helpful. They are peers or close to other personnel in their department, they feel important being designated as a leader. I took on this role in a few places I worked and really enjoyed training and supporting people in my department. It's also really important to project postive feelings about the project, even if you hear users grumble or make negative comments having to give up an old system and have to learn something new, to put a positive spin on it -- maybe mentioning how valuable it will make them to master this technology or how much easier their life and give specific examples.  

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batye   Deploying New Technology Requires Diplomacy   4/2/2012 4:10:49 PM
Re: how to get the end user on your side?
reality of IT game or true in the IT life...
David Wagner   Deploying New Technology Requires Diplomacy   4/2/2012 4:07:34 PM
Re: how to get the end user on your side?
Ha! True. You'd think we wouldn't have to be reminded of how often we screw that up since we've done it so much.
batye   Deploying New Technology Requires Diplomacy   4/2/2012 4:05:20 PM
Re: how to get the end user on your side?
I could not agree more, but a lot of the time IT get ahead of itself - until disaster hits and everyone started remembering mantra - End-user, end-user...
David Wagner   Deploying New Technology Requires Diplomacy   4/2/2012 3:28:31 PM
Re: how to get the end user on your side?
@batye- I think we should always educate the end user. But more important, we should let th end user educate IT.
David Wagner   Deploying New Technology Requires Diplomacy   4/2/2012 3:25:10 PM
Re: how to get the end user on your side?
@kstaron- I think the key is to explain how it will make their lives better. the problem is that I think IT doesn't often really know the answer to that. I think they know how the new tech will make THIER lives better. Granted, I don't expect the IT department to understand every last nuance of every job in the enterprise, but before they even run a new app or technology by someone, it wuld be nice if they asked us what we needed a little more often.
batye   Deploying New Technology Requires Diplomacy   4/2/2012 3:14:42 PM
Re: how to get the end user on your side?
in few cases what I seen - only education of the end user could bring solution to this problem
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