This is a quick blog about the perils of IT implementation. I have just been sent an email on the four types of approach that a company can take when deploying a new IT platform (see below). The email comes from an IT company, focused on SALES. I love the labels they use, “Reluctant” or “Assertive”, which would you prefer to be? Then, the kicker, “The business value is proportional to the approach you take.” – of course, the “Assertive” company is “most desirable” and bound to see the highest return, in terms of value. Can I ask, “most desirable” for whom? The IT company or the people within the organisation they are providing the product/service to? Is this nothing more than a sales coercion tool?
What about ‘scalable failure’, ‘proof of concept’ or just plain common sense? The value of any new platform will depend on the needs of the organisation – strategic position etc. - (more importantly, the individual users who will engage with the platform), the deliverables (in terms of the benefits and value contribution of the platform against individual and organisational need) and the performance measurement tool. Measurement around “serendipitous” knowledge flows, measure around ‘Results’, ‘Impact’ or ‘Return on Investment’ will obviously take time, but expectation when it comes to measurement can be scaled, as can the roll-out of a new IT platform. A staged approach to scaling for a new IT implementation project, is that really so bad? I don’t have the time at the moment to provide a full response, but there is a lot of evidence to suggest that a staged implementation plan enhances the chance of success.
IT implementation, hmmm. Perhaps “skepticism” or “reluctance” on the part of the client comes from uncertainty as to the benefits of the platform in relation to organisational need? Perhaps a pilot will expose the limitations of the platform? Perhaps some IT companies are more interested in ‘quick wins’ over long term relationships? Who knows, but a health dose of skepticism, common sense and scalable failure can’t be bad.
The point I am trying to make here is that IT companies naturally want to ‘sell’, but, ultimately, the seeds for success might be better planted in a more considered approach. It has to be about what is right for you. If a full implementation best meets your need, fine. If not, applying a little caveat emptor wouldn’t go amiss.
There are four types of companies named after the type of deployment that suits them. Typically, these deployments are limited by two factors: 1) scope – the breadth of your deployment, and 2) duration – the length of your deployment.
1. A skeptical company limits BOTH deployment scope and duration is basically saying “we are going to try this out in this specific department for this specific time period.” There is a higher chance of failure here for two reasons. The first is lack of full adoption time and greater difficulty in proving the success of any new processes. With so little networking time, there is no chance of a serendipitous encounter that can add value to the organization. This deployment typically creates the least business value and is the least desired approach.
2. A reluctant company limits deployment scope, but not duration. In other words the organization is saying, “we can try this in this specific department for an unlimited period of time.” This type of organization provides the time for technology value testing but unfortunately doesn’t really show the full business value benefit. Similar to the Skeptical deployment, there is decreased chance for serendipity during networking and less people means lower chances of adoption, and the people that are using the platform usually already know each other. Moderate business value can be achieved through this approach.
3. A willing company limits on time, but not scope. In this scenario, the organization might say, “we will deploy this across the organization for a period of six months.” The company can see the benefit of networking effects and serendipity, and they can test the value of this new technology. This approach is one for business value testing. There is greater value in this approach, but hard to remove the technology if adoption is gained and chances of high adoption for future deployments is diminished.
4. An assertive company has no limit on scope or duration; it carries out a full deployment of new collaboration process & strategy. Such conditions provide the greatest business value and opportunity to improve the business. In this scenario an organization can provide business value and technology testing. Here we have the highest potential for good networking and serendipity. This is the most desirable approach and the one that yields the greatest business value
The point is that you have four options for deployment approaches, each with their pros and cons. The potential of business value is proportional to the approach you take.