Information Technology Isn’t a Miracle Solution

We’re in a rapidly advancing technological age…I mean this article is being posted online and probably read on mobile devices and shared via social media. With every passing year (sometimes it feels like every week), it seems like there’s some new information technology (IT) platform to learn and integrate into our daily lives – for business and or personal use. Just think, twenty years ago, personal computers were rare. Businesses are major users and adopters of IT; it’s needed to function successfully, to remain competitive, and to achieve operational excellence. But just choosing a technology isn’t enough. You need to consider what solutions are the best fit for your business, and how to manage process and people changes associated with implementation, all necessities for success when upgrading or implementing solutions.

Tolero Solutions released a whitepaper on the topic – Integrating People & Technology: Enabling your people to successfully adopt the use of new and emerging technologies. Most of the time IT projects fail not because of poor technology but because of poorly managing technology change and a lack of focus good people practices, communication, and organizational change skills. You can have the biggest and best IT solution, a team with all the technology skills required, but without a focus and an understanding of people, process and change, you may not have a chance. We’ve also developed a corresponding IT and people checklist on this topic for a more a high level overview.

So simply having an IT solution isn’t necessarily going to be the magic game changer you’re hoping for, in achieving operational excellence and high performance, without focusing on several key components:

  • IT Governance- All change efforts, IT focused or otherwise, need a group of people to and drive the change. Think of this structure as a mini organization designed with the mission to make decisions, discusses and address risks and issues, execute the change and communication efforts, and make project decisions. This governing body should consist of representation of stakeholders impacted by the technology changes.
  • Leadership Engagement: It’s critical to have the support of your organization’s leadership in the implementation of IT solutions. They must have a clear understanding of the reasons the technology is being installed, the intended benefits, the potential organizational changes, and the desired outcomes. Leadership serves as an example. They must be engaged and committed to success.
  • Change Management: IT projects have many moving parts and impact various parts of the organization both internally and externally. The professional and often personal changes that an IT project brings to impacted stakeholders must be managed and addressed. It’s important to know and understand how any sort of change will affect the individuals involved. It’s nearly impossible to successfully manage change without a proper framework in place. This is applicable to any sort of change, be it with IT or otherwise.
  • Communication: Communication is a necessity for success. Prior to beginning communications, a clear vision and strategy for the implementation of the new technology, the why, the what and the how, must be developed. Communicate early and often! How you communicate with the organization regarding the implementation can make a huge difference between success and failure.

We tend to put a lot of faith into our IT solutions. For those of us who aren’t necessarily familiar with working with IT systems we tend to believe in the superpowers of those who do. IT people seem like graduates of Hogwarts Witchcraft and Wizardry- the way technology is often handled seems nothing short of wizardry. It can often become easy for executives and business owners to imagine that having an IT solution is the answer to achieving high performance. Ah yes, IT, it will make our business grow, help us devour the competition, and all will be well.

No – it’s not that simple. Simply having an IT solution isn’t going to be the miracle change every business wants/needs. The IT solution needs to be a fit for your organizations mission, needs, and culture, and the focus has to remain on the people and processes not just the technology.

About Scott Span, MSOD: is CEO & Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions – an Organizational Improvement & Strategy firm.  He helps clients in facilitating sustainable growth by connecting and maximizing  people –> performance –> profit™, creating organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable.

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