The old story about rolling out new technology is that the CEO tells the IT people: "I’d like it to be delivered on time, I’d like it to be within budget and I want it to work. And any one of those three will do." Because notoriously, it’s usually over budget, it’s usually late and the thing doesn’t even work anyway.
But if you’re only going to get one of those things, it’s the last one that matters the most. You’ll be forgiven for being over budget and for being late, but you really need to get it right.
This is because people have a short attention span and a low level of tolerance. If you don’t have it near enough to perfect before you unleash the new thing on the wider audience, they’ll stop listening and switch off. This will leave you with a difficult, frustrating uphill battle as you struggle to get buy-in.
|Dunstan de Souza|
You need the right people in IT
Getting it right has several vital components to it. One is making sure you have good, smart and very obliging people doing software development and tech support.
IT people used to have a bad name. They’d talk gibberish at you because they knew you didn’t have the knowledge to challenge them. They could obstruct your projects through laziness or uncooperativeness. Or perhaps they didn't have the technical skill in a particular area and chose to fudge it rather than work out how to do it properly.
Certainly I believe that this is changing now. In our firm, we encourage all software developers and IT people to think of themselves as independent contractors and to think of the other staff as clients from whom they are trying to win additional work. Having IT people with this mindset is crucial.
Focus groups and pilot groups
Another part of getting it right is not unleashing the technology until you’ve done a trial run. My experience is that it's good to have small pilot groups, fewer than ten people, to try the new thing out.
Running a pilot study and getting feedback achieves two purposes. First, it helps you iron out bugs. Secondly, it lets you do a kind of implementation by stealth.
It works like this: the tech nuts around the place get a new thing which is in the pipeline for a general rollout. These tech nuts are blissfully happy with their new toy and tell everyone about it. People around them look on with interest and then envy. Pretty soon they’re asking: "What about me? When do I get one?"
So by the time the new thing is rolled out to everyone, the bugs have been ironed out and many people are clamouring for it.
Keep it simple
Another crucial element for a successful rollout of new technology is not using jargon.
Blathering at people in technical speak is the quickest way to alienate them and make them run for cover. Using plain English, being as simple and clear as possible makes it much more likely that they will be open to what you are proposing.
Technology is no longer optional
There’s no point in overstating the role of technology in today's business environment because it’s only one of the pieces of the puzzle. At the same time, there is no denying its increasing importance. Everyone has to accept it because that’s how people interact.
Every tribe, every community has its own set of rules, its set of behaviours which are not negotiable. Increasingly, the non-negotiable behaviour within businesses now includes the acceptance of the technology that the community as a whole has decided to adopt. That's why it's so important to get it right.