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Finding the Pain before you Implement a Software Solution

August 02, 2007

Click here to view Video Introduction

Some percentage of every group targeted to start using a new software package, don’t get it.  Don’t get why they should use it, and why it’s necessary to change to a new software tool.  If it impacts managing information, as do performance managment, project management and strategic planning tools do, they don’t see the value of letting go of their current methods and learning something new.  Ignoring this section of any group, and it can be the majority, is a big mistake. 

Paying attention to this group either thwarts the effort to implement a new tool or system (the tendency is to accommodate this group and appease them by not requiring total adoption of the new software), or requires a thoughtful and resourceful approach to work with them. My suggestion is a very simple one. 

For the group that doesn’t get it, you have to expose the pain, before you can make a case for the solution.  Let me say that another way, you have to make the pain of current practices bigger than the pain of having to learn a new tool.  The group will gravitate towards the option of less pain.

How do you expose, highlight, and make palpable the pain embodied in current practices, using current software or non-software tools?  Simply asking people about it doesn’t seem to work.  Lack of awareness, lack of safety to admit or disclose this type of information or simply denial and defensiveness all act to suppress a dialogue and release of information you can work with.

What I’ve found that works, is to ask very pointed questions, and if possible go in with your research already done, so you know the answers and the costs, before you start asking about the pain.   Here are four such questions to get at problems:

1. Do you have current, accurate information at your finger tips that:

a) Allows you to speedily do your job, or do you spend some part of each day looking/asking for that information from others – if so how much time/day on an average?
b) That allows you to track key metrics and status updates on your top priority projects, deliverables and dashboards? (Or have you just learned to cope with not having current information)
  2) How much time/day do you spend in email, and what % of that time is spent looking at updates, because they aren’t found anywhere else, or being included on updates that wouldn’t be necessary if it was stored somewhere and you knew where to look?  What’s the cost of that time per day? 3) Do you have any current method of tracking the frequency and cost of information mistakes:

a) Missed deadlines?
b) Rework because of miscommunication?
c) Frustration to internal and external customers due to the lack of timely information, response?
d) What would you guess the cost of information mistakes is as based upon your total sales 5, 10, 20%? how about the % of your profit?

4) If you acted on the sudden urge to retire at the end of today:

a) Are the projects you’re working on clearly documented? Is there a plan, progress updates, issues and next steps clearly spelled out?
b) How much trouble would the people who work with you be in, because your work isn’t documented such that they could easily find stuff and keep delivering now that you’re retired?

Bottom Line:  You and the group adopting new software need to be very clear about problem the software is solving.  And to help them get over the inevitable additional work load of learning a new program, they need to have a clear idea of what the cost is of the current problem, e.g. current processes. Without that cost being surfaced and pinpointed, usually to the point of some discomfort, the launch of new software, as we have experienced many time in launching ManagePro, will very easily be dismissed by a large section of your new users as something that is not needed and just extra work.

1 Comment. Leave new

Management information
October 19, 2007 8:37 pm

Management information…

Cool, very good article, i like it.. plz wrte more……


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