When it comes to embracing new technology, employees, regardless of their seniority or age group, tend to resist change. Perhaps it’s just human nature to get comfortable with a certain way of doing things -even if it’s not ideal—and to dislike the idea of trying something different. This quirk is not something you can afford to ignore. The single most common reason that half of all new IT systems remain underutilized, or eventually abandoned, is because employees can’t, or won’t, use them. Savvy managers understand this, and recognize that an IT project is not complete until it has been successfully introduced to its users. Here are some suggestions to make your next IT introduction successful:
- Communication is vital. Don’t spring “new technology” on your employees. As soon as you recognize the need to upgrade or change systems, let your employees know why you are planning to upgrade IT programs, and seek their input in the decision-making process. If you give them the chance to buy-in at the outset, your employees will be less inclined to voice objections at launch time.
- When it comes time to meeting with sales people and reviewing various options, try to include as many users as you can in the hands-on demos. Staff members who are the major users of various systems or programs can provide real insight on which features would be most valuable to your business operations.
- Don’t pinch pennies by cutting back on training, or on providing employees with the time needed to learn the systems. Sometimes training sessions are hastily arranged, or employees who attend sessions are distracted by pending deadlines, or by concerns about their day-to-day work. Remember that the temporary loss in productivity will be minor compared with the operational efficiencies gained once the new IT systems are properly utilized. Begin offering training sessions at least a month ahead of the proposed launch date. This gives your IT experts a chance to address any unforeseen issues, and slower learners the chance to get up to speed without time pressures.
- Some employees will be more likely to be excited by new technology than others. You might want to encourage these people to take a leadership role with their peers, offering help to users who are less comfortable with new technology.
- Nothing motivates like rewards and recognition. If you can provide incentives to encourage employees to begin using the new technology as soon as possible, do so.
Finally, hold a company-wide post-launch review session –perhaps three months after start-up—to make sure that your employees get a chance to share their initial experience with you and with the IT supplier. That way, your suppliers get the information they need to “tweak” the systems, and your employees continue to feel vested in the continuing success of the project.