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Technology Change: 5 Costly Mistakes Orgs Make (and how to avoid them)

Author: Leah Crawford

If you are like most modern professionals, you have probably experienced some form of new technology roll-out in your organization. The pace of today’s technological advancements has companies digitizing, migrating, and automating more than ever before. Every element of business operations can be digitized with software, and many are making the leap to remain competitive and relevant (especially in the increasingly remote environment). Whether shifting to a platform such as Microsoft Teams or working with a new CRM, think about how you felt when you first made the change. Were you excited? Anxious? Confused? Frustrated?

No matter the new technology, they all have something in common: Adapting affects human emotions. Technology is a human enabler, which means it is only as valuable as the way end users utilize or perceive it. Organizations can invest in the flashiest technology and see the investment go to waste depending on how the change is managed.

There are five common (and costly) mistakes to avoid that organizations tend to make during organizational technology change:

1. They didn’t include their end-users.

User research, design, testing, and general consideration is critical to successfully implement a new system. Understanding their processes, skill-level, value needs, and general preferences will help you understand where your individual team members are along the continuum of people-readiness factors: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement (ADKAR).

Often, we gather our requirements from one stakeholder or customer, without validating those requirements with enough end-users to identify additional areas of innovation and value. Conduct “Wireframing” or “Prototyping” with many end-users to validate your designs and see what really makes them go “aahh!” Finally, have them test the product out and look for points of excitement, confusion, or disappointment that go beyond simply verifying functionality.

2. They didn’t plan for success.

No one plans for failure, right? Of course not. But that doesn’t mean you have planned for success. Planning for success first requires you to define what success looks like. Ask yourself, what impact is the technology supposed to have on your organization? What is required to achieve those impacts? How can you be sure it’s working as it should? Once you have answered those questions and visualized what success looks like, identify how you will measure it once you have gone live.

This exercise is critical to guide you throughout your design, development, and implementation process and should not be skipped. You will identify new features and implementation strategies that you would have otherwise missed.

3. They only communicate via email.

E-mail is a powerful tool and should be a part of every communication plan. However, email cannot replace the essential human to human connection needed in change efforts. Think about it – how often have you gotten an email from a distribution list that was clearly intended for a large audience that you immediately passed over, glanced through, or just didn’t give much attention to? When you solely rely on email to communicate critical information or attempt buy-in, you’re going to have some gaps. The question then becomes, what’s the best method?

Glad you asked. When communicating about change, it is important to integrate some form of face-to-face communication (either virtually or in person). Leveraging key influencers like supervisors or executives is also a helpful tactic to underline campaign importance and communicate top-level buy in. In-person communication also allows you to gauge and react to human emotions. You can also leverage your own conviction and passion to inspire others to take personal responsibility for change adoption to achieve the successful outcomes you help the team envision.

Try this when implementing your next change: host a supervisor change kickoff either virtually or in person. During the event explain to them the change vision, technical key features, success factors, and, importantly, what you need from them to make the change successful. Give them an opportunity to ask questions and clarify expectations, and then ensure each of them individually gives a thumbs up to support the plan.

4. They didn’t invest in training.

Training is one of the most important technical change management tactics of all. You cannot expect users to adopt new technology or a new system without training. Too often, companies leave training plans to the last minute and focus only on technical development. Even more often, training is left to supervisors with no formal training skills, resulting in haphazard, inconsistent training experiences that are often unimpactful and chaotic. The importance of training cannot be overstated, so plan for it early, invest in resources to ensure it goes properly, and build a training model that is sustainable beyond go live. Most importantly, do not assume that the application is so intuitive that you don’t need training.

5. They didn’t create a reinforcement plan.

Go live is exciting. It’s the big shiny object that everyone has looked forward to with high expectations. Accordingly, it’s easy to focus all your attention and planning to ensure go live runs smoothly, while completely forgetting to plan for post-go live. Here are some things you should think about:

  • Where and who will users go to when they need help?
  • How will you onboard and train new users?
  • How will users request changes?
  • How will you update training material with lessons learned?
  • How will you create accountability?

Want a quick tip? Create a user community where the team can ask questions, chatter back and forth, and where you can easily post and update Frequently Asked Questions. Salesforce has great community functionality where you can integrate chatter feeds, support cases (tickets), and host knowledge articles.

(Need help? HigherEchelon is a Certified Salesforce Partner and has implemented communities for many customers for this exact purpose. Find out more here. )

Beyond Salesforce, SharePoint is another great community resource to leverage for training and reinforcement (we can help with that, too).

Bottom line: technical change is complex.

Technology updates are exciting and worth the effort. The right changes can relieve recurring headaches due to outdated processes and help organizations make and save more money. But technical change is also complex. There are many factors to consider and even more pitfalls than those discussed here to be aware of and avoid. With proper planning, roll-out, and follow through, your organization can be a technology change success story.

Get in touch

You do not have to go it alone. HigherEchelon has extensive experience guiding large and small organizations through successful digital transformations that last long-term. Our technology specialists and change management experts provide comprehensive, end-to-end services that ensure your investments don’t go to waste.

Reach out to us today to start your journey to successful, high-impact technology change.

Call us at 866-469-9945, email us at Solutions@higherechelon.com, or fill out this form to be contacted about an initial consultation.

Leah Crawford is Director of Operational Effectiveness and Analytics at HigherEchelon, Inc.