One of the most common mistakes organizations make when rolling out team technology (think Skype for Business, Slack, and the like) is putting IT in charge of its selection, rollout and upkeep. That’s probably not the best plan. While it’s their responsibility to keep things running, and they need to be involved, they’re not the ones using it daily to get work done in other departments.
Here are some of the reasons that, while they are stakeholders, IT shouldn’t be the only department involved in choosing and rolling out team tech:
- No software is truly “intuitive.” The people in your organization who work with technology every day have a different relationship with the tools than people who are just trying to get their work done. If you want people to use a tool, you have to understand what they know, want and like. Odds are, the folks in HR or Sales have different ideas of “user friendly” and “intuitive” than people who use complex software all the time. If you don’t involve the end users in the process BEFORE implementation, it can get very bumpy, very quickly.
- It had better fit with the normal workflow, and IT may not know what that is. One of the biggest barriers to implementing any tool is if it is too radical a change from how people do their work now. Just saying, “well, now you have to do it THIS way,” will more likely result in physical assault than people changing their work habits. People make a change when it’s either not too big a change from what they’re doing now, or it’s a huge change but the benefits outweigh the inconvenience. And by outweigh, I mean by a LOT.
- Training is best done at a team level, and IT usually doesn’t have the resources. Training people to use a new tool is no simple task (and the bigger the change, the harder it is.) To really get people to adopt technology, they need to understand what the tool does, see it used, get trained on it (with hands-on practice) and then get coaching and remedial help when needed. If your organization thinks having an experienced user demonstrate a tool once on a WebEx meeting will get the job done, you’re in for a lot of trouble. Training should be handled by people who understand, not only the technology, but how it will be used in everyday life. They also need to be available for help when needed. If you think you don’t have the resources for training, wait til the tickets for tech support are piled to the ceiling.
- Don’t tell anyone, but IT doesn’t necessarily know what it’s doing either. One of the biggest surprises when we teach virtual presentation skills or use webmeeting tools in organizations, is how inefficiently the supposed “experts” use the tool themselves. If your people are simply screen sharing instead of uploading content so it can effectively presented, or are unaware of the white board function and how it works, odds are that’s how they’ll teach others to use it. And training/facilitation is a learned skill, not an innate gift. Just because you’re technically proficient, doesn’t mean you can teach others. In fact, it’s frequently an impediment to successful learning transfer.
- People learn best from their peers, over time. You know who really helps a team adopt a new accounting software? Joe. Or Alice. The point is, someone on your team will recognize the strength of a technology, and become a great example and model for the rest. They’ll also be influential in helping get everyone up to their level, answer questions, and push for improvements. Do you know who those people are? How involved have they been in the process so far?
If you’re going to roll out a big software initiative, organizations need to take systemic approach. Conversations with end-users and customers will help create a plan that get people to use a tool at a high level, in a short period of time.
We’re not saying IT can’t do the job, but if it’s not already part of their job, you may be asking more of them than can be reasonably expected.
Do your people understand the tools at their disposal? Check out our upcoming session of The Remote Leadership Certificate Series. This series of 7 online sessions teaches the skills a remote leader needs, including building a virtual team, leading virtual meetings, presenting effectively over the web, coaching from a distance and much more. Learn more here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.