Adapting to New Software and Hardware

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Change can be hard, especially when it involves technology. Although some people relish the opportunity to play around with new software and hardware, others balk at what they perceive as a disruption to the normal routine. And when this phenomenon occurs at a business (that is, dollar signs are involved), it’s critical to make the process as painless as possible.

A good first step to this end is an initial consultation to determine an organization’s needs and capabilities, said Joan Muschamp, Applied Knowledge Group marketing manager.

“One of the best practices we find and strongly recommend is assessing before you actually go in and put up the changes — what is the organization capable of accepting, where are your barriers and where are the enablers,” she said. “It’ll vary by people and organizational structure, and you should understand, before you start down that road of development, what you’re going to encounter.”

Additionally, Muschamp said it helps to adopt an agile style of development, which involves setting benchmarks and having early deliveries, so that pilot users and end users can work with the new software or hardware and provide feedback.

“Often, they’ll say, ‘This is what I need,’ but when you start to deliver it, that’s really not what they want,” she said. “When they’re allowed to make changes with it along the way, it helps them better assess where they are and what they need. And because they’re so involved in the process, it improves the adoption of the technology.”

Another element that can ease the transition is training on both the new technology and the business process behind the technology.

“This forces you to look at the process and make sure you’re alleviating a business pain, as opposed to just putting in technology for technology’s sake,” Muschamp said. “Human beings are overloaded with changing technology, and they are at the point where they don’t want to learn anything else. So, you have to make sure you have the right changes and process, and those are the things you have to work on early in the development cycle.”

The person or people leading the effort will vary, depending the size of the organization and the complexity of the proposed change, among other things. No matter who’s in charge, however, Muschamp stressed the importance of addressing the needs of the target audience.

“We look down into where the work is being done so that we’re actually talking to the people who will be using it, for whom it will have benefit, not just an executive who wants to see some nice KPIs printed out on a dashboard,” she said. “At some level, when the executive said, ‘Yes, we’re going to do that,’ they were probably sold on an ROI. But when you actually get into doing this, you have to get to the people who are going to deliver that ROI.

“That’s in creating your pilot group to start working with — you find the people who are accepting of change and have a natural leadership position (not necessarily a position within the company) to help effect the change, and then you work it out with the group in that way.”

Therein lies one of the most important factors in adapting to new software and hardware.

“The unique proposition and the really important thing that everyone has to consider is the people part of the equation — if the people aren’t finding the technology usable and beneficial, ultimately, it’s going to fail,” Muschamp said. “People are at the heart of this, and that’s what really has to be refocused. For too long, we had technology for technology’s sake, but 10 years ago, we were getting such productivity gains with things such as Office, and when Windows came out, there were huge gains, going from DOS — just putting that on people’s desks made an enormous difference in productivity.

“We’re now at the point where it’s so ubiquitous, the next technology doesn’t always do that for people, particularly companywide. It might benefit one person, but if you don’t know how to integrate it with everyone else, it’s not going to have that advantage, and it’s not going to be used. It’s critical to make sure that we understand that the people who use the technology are at the heart of it and running it that way, particularly in the collaborative space, when you want people to work together.”

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