In the dynamic and ever-changing world of business, maintaining a competitive edge and maximising efficiency requires the integration of innovative IT projects that hold the promise of transformation. However, the path to successful adoption of these projects is complex and riddled with obstacles.
Technology leaders are increasingly being called upon to lead and smoothly manage project adoption, to ensure that their organisations stay efficient, maximise productivity and profitability.
There is, however, little doubt that it is a complex, multi-stakeholder process that can be made just that bit easier by referencing lessons learnt from peers in the industry, drawing from their extensive expertise, diverse strategies, and practical best practices.
Mohammed Gause, the CIO of Tiger Brands, underscores the criticality of measuring success in technology projects. His approach revolves around grounding the entire adoption process in well-defined, business-centric key performance indicators.
He advises, "Before embarking on the journey of adopting a new technology, it is imperative to gain a lucid understanding of the key performance measures that truly matter to your business. These metrics should not only be established but also benchmarked even before contemplating the implementation of a novel solution."
However, Mohammed's approach transcends the mere establishment of metrics. He places great importance on the idea of continuous measurement and monitoring.
He says, "The skill of defining success criteria in the language of your business, combined with the creation of easily measurable and readily reportable benchmarks, is the key to successful adoption."
This approach not only cultivates a shared and unified vision of the future business landscape but also underscores the vital link between technology adoption and the overarching business objectives. He further emphasises that these goals and targets should primarily revolve around business-centric measures, avoiding the convoluted intricacies of technical jargon.
Nazeem Aberdeen, group IT manager at Sturrock and Robson Industries, agrees with the bigger picture approach. "Harmonise your technology strategy with the broader business goals, and make sure everyone within the organisation understands what you are diligently trying to accomplish," he says.
Nazeem has developed a set of specific strategies and best practices that have proven highly effective during the adoption process. These include resource allocation planning and controlled measurements on business vision, which serve as the driving forces behind strategic business growth. By carefully planning the allocation of resources and aligning them with the overall vision, companies can pave the way for increased sales and growth.
Mohammed further emphasises the significance of employing quantifiable criteria for project approval. These criteria may encompass pivotal aspects such as revenue growth, cost reduction, or efficiency enhancements.
To precisely gauge user sentiment and system adoption, Mohammed recommends the institutionalisation of post-implementation reviews.
"These post-implementation reviews should encompass a judicious mix of quantitative and qualitative assessments, including user satisfaction, ease of task performance, and the rapid identification and resolution of usability issues."
He also underscores the strategic importance of nurturing a network of user champions and super users, as these individuals often emerge as invaluable wellsprings of insights into adoption trends.
Securing stakeholder buy-in
The attainment of robust support from stakeholders emerges as a linchpin for the success of technology adoption projects. This is one of the reasons Dr Denisha Jairam-Owthar, CIO at the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) emphasis effective communication.
She advocates for a hands-on approach, where stakeholders can experience the advantages of technology adoption firsthand. She accomplishes this by running proof of concepts, providing stakeholders with tangible evidence of how technology can transform their processes and outcomes. By allowing individuals to engage directly with these concepts, the task of advocating for the tools becomes considerably more straightforward.
Mohammed agrees and further underscores the importance of fostering clear and transparent communication channels.
"It is incumbent upon you to ensure that every individual comprehends not only the 'why' behind these transformative changes but also the 'how' these changes concretely benefit the company and its constituents," he says.
One of the most significant impediments to technology adoption lies in the realm of user apprehension, the fear of relinquishing the comfort of familiarity, even in the face of its inherent limitations, for something new and unfamiliar.
Mohammed explains that his approach is to describe the end state in vivid detail, elucidating how the solution will redefine and elevate individual roles, streamline processes, and substantially alleviate work burdens.
“By methodically crafting a compelling narrative that outlines the tangible, real-world benefits of the new solution, organisations can effectively kindle enthusiasm and curiosity among users, thus seamlessly transitioning them from a state of resistance to one characterised by eager anticipation," he explains.
He also advocates for the use of a well-trained cohort of super users.
“Establishing a robust and responsive network and support structure with these user champions guarantees continued support, right at the point and moment of need," he says.
Mohammed emphasises that recognising and celebrating user achievements through public acknowledgment can serve as a potent motivator, thereby enhancing adoption rates.
Looking externally, Nazeem highlights the pivotal role of customer experience in achieving success. By setting clear objectives for service delivery, businesses can enhance the overall customer journey and satisfaction. This customer-centric approach not only fosters loyalty but also attracts new customers, ultimately contributing to the company's growth.
It is for this reason that Denisha underscores the pressing need for cultivating a culture of innovation and experimentation within an organisation.
She acknowledges that adaptability and innovation are crucial for companies to thrive and highlights the pivotal role that data science plays in driving business success.