Change management is the secret sauce.
You’ve developed a technology roadmap for your company and prioritized where you want your tech dollars to go over the next few years. Now you’re ready to put your latest big investment to work.
To put it mildly, implementing new technology is not always a smooth road. How you approach adoption matters. Your implementation strategy influences how fully you leverage the benefits of your new tool and the value it yields.
“Change management is the secret sauce to the success of technology initiatives in the construction industry,” said Tim Goggin, founder and CEO of Sappington, a Seattle-based company that guides businesses through the process of choosing and adopting technology.
Here are four ways to help ensure your technology implementation is successful.
Involve employees early and often
“Get stakeholders involved early, especially when the technology involves changing the way that people do things, whether that’s in the accounting department, in project management or out in the field,” Goggin advised.
Ongoing communication is essential. People need to understand why you are making the change and what’s in it not only for the company but also for them. How will this new technology make their jobs easier, and how can they contribute to the success of the project?
“If people aren’t with you, you will have stalled or failed projects and general frustration,” Goggin added.
Allow more time than you think you need
Companies often fail to allow enough time to get a tech project up and running. “Vendors can set unrealistic expectations about how long it’s going to take; they articulate the happy path, the perfect world,” said Goggin. “Oftentimes, organizations don’t realize what’s at stake and all the decision-making that’s required once you get into a project.”
Suppose you decide to invest in new enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. As you get into the project, you realize that this represents an opportunity to do some things differently. You may need to stop and think about how to improve the processes that surround that technology, and that will take time.
Set milestones for completing certain tasks. “The biggest problems we’ve identified over the years in failed strategic technology initiatives is the lack of upfront vision and strategy as well as a lack of articulation of milestones along the way,” said Goggin.
Create a group of super users
Bring in some key stakeholders — end users of the new technology — early in the process so they can explain what challenges they face that the technology may help solve. Have them participate in planning the requirements for the new technology.
When it’s time to implement the technology, train them first so they can help their peers learn it. They become your super users, the champions of the technology. Don’t rely only on tech-savvy millennials; choose employees of all ages to be your super users.
“We’ve seen companies that have a mix of senior folks who are champions working alongside the younger folks,” said Goggin. “It’s a great opportunity for pairing up seasoned veterans of the company with younger workers. It’s also a way to minimize some of the consternation that occurs between different generations in the workforce.”
“Training is critically important. In the construction businesses, projects are often widely distributed, so you have different project teams in different regions,” Goggin noted. “To ensure that they all feel that they’re part of the process, spend time with the regional folks and have champions in each region to support any questions that come up. Provide a lot of communication during and after the training.”
While no tech implementation goes perfectly, following these steps can help ensure that the small obstacles you face along the way don’t become barricades to successful adoption.
Freelance writer Mary Lou Jay writes about business and technical developments in a variety of industries. She has been covering residential and commercial construction for more than 25 years.