Five Missteps to Avoid in Adopting New Technology

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Acquiring and implementing new technology like Microsoft Dynamics, or an integrated solution such as MetaViewer to create Paperless ERP, can be an exciting process for an organization. The new solution holds the promise of resolving longstanding issues and aggravating work-arounds, so executive leadership often sets a goal of getting the technology up and running as rapidly as possible. Rushing to incorporate new systems, however, can have its pitfalls.

First, when an organization hurries through the process of preparing, issuing and evaluating the RFP, suppliers that can offer economies and best practices may be passed by in favor of those that pledge to install the technology very quickly or that fail to thoroughly examine all it will take to introduce the solution in a way that works effectively for the company.

Second, it can be easy for stakeholders to eagerly scrap old solutions and processes, replacing them with new tools that can be adopted rapidly. Such an approach, however, skips over an essential part of the adoption process that is vital to new technology’s success: mining the lessons to be learned from the old solution. Too often, organizations automatically look at what hasn’t been working, but it’s also important to consider what worked well and what can be carried over or mimicked in the new process. In this way, companies can make the transition from old to new as smooth as possible while troubleshooting issues within processes.

A third and related issue can be the failure to bring into the implementation process the individuals who will be using the technology. When implementing a new Paperless ERP solution, for example, two-way communication with the users in accounts payable will provide a wealth of knowledge to the IT team that is managing the implementation. That process often will expose holes in the existing business processes, but the accounts payable professionals will be able to share details on certain successful workflow and approval processes that can be adapted to fit the new solution. So due diligence is critical to understanding what the organization specifically needs in its solution.

A fourth concern is pre-implementation testing. Pre-implementation testing can be a stressful period, especially if the RFP process was lengthy. Testing, however, is one of the most important steps to ensure that new technology is adopted successfully and operates effectively. A premature or improperly planned deployment can be disastrous and brings the risk of a steep financial loss if not properly managed. Fortunately for the team, these tests don't require sharpened pencils, lined paper or calculators; however, they do involve many rigorous performance demands during this essential phase in the implementation process.

So how should companies approach the testing of a new solution? First, testing should always be executed under controlled conditions, such as an isolated system or virtualized space on a server, in which results can be documented and evaluated. When failed outcomes or glitches do occur, they should be resolved and tested again until desired outcomes are produced. If the system can withstand intentional traps, then it will be much more likely to withstand day-to-day activity.

Organizations are best served if testing is performed by a variety of applications teams, especially those not closely tied to the project. In the case of MetaViewer, for example, Metafile puts together teams that consist of IT and finance administrators, as well as personnel not as familiar with the intricacies of the technology. Varied opinions are valuable in determining how accurately the technology is performing. By aggressively testing new solutions, the technology already will have been used heavily in various situations, which will make the rollout to the organization’s users a much smoother and more successful process.

Finally, even though testing has been thorough, problems may emerge during the first few weeks and months of using the new technology, simply because people may be trying to make the solution do something it’s not designed to do or may introduce anomalies in attempting to understand or configure the templates and data on the screen. Organizations will discover that it’s important to troubleshoot and resolve these issues, however minor they may appear to be. As small problems accumulate, they can turn into large and sometimes disabling complications. Rather, be certain that a reporting and troubleshooting process has been established to deal with glitches before they frustrate both the system and its user.

Ultimately, organizations are best served by working with dedicated solution vendors who will serve as true partners and trusted advisors. When solutions receive the attention and care they require during the adoption process, everything runs more smoothly and is more likely to continue operating effectively with fewer interruptions.

By Nick Sprau, VP of Marketing
Metafile Information Systems, Inc.


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