by Fred Ode

Q:
Our contracting company made a sizeable investment in PDAs and barcode scanning devices hoping to improve the speed and accuracy of information coming from the field. It's been eight months, and only about half of our employees are using these technologies consistently. The other half say they are just too busy to learn anything new. So now accuracy is as big an issue as it ever was! How do I get everyone on board?
Jody

A:

You should never underestimate the power of end-user rejection.  In fact, it is probably the No. 1 reason new technology initiatives fail.

To avoid this scenario, I advise contractors to take preemptive action.  The following steps require some effort on your part, but the results are well worth it.

  • Create a vision for change. Managers and owners should be involved in new technology initiatives-from the planning phase, to implementation, and beyond. Your involvement ensures employees that the entire organization is on board.
  • Understand change-resistance behavior. Studies show that people fall into definite groups when confronting change:
    • Innovators
    • Early adapters
    • Late adapters

 

If you can identify the first two groups of individuals and get them involved in the training process, they can help to excite and educate the late adapters.

  • Make employees part of the process. Include all end users and others impacted by new technology in the planning phase. Once employees discover how the product will benefit the company overall, as well as their own jobs, they are often more receptive to change.
  • Consider employees' tech skills. It may be necessary for some individuals to upgrade their skills. And in some cases, the only reasonable choice may be to reposition people within the company to better match the new skill set.
  • Provide appropriate training. Thorough and ongoing user training is critical to the success of any new technology project. The best method is to provide a wide range of training tools along with frequent accessibility.

Remember, Jody, technology is just a tool that allows you to work faster and more efficiently.  But without the right people-or processes-in place to use it, it can offer you virtually no advantage at all.  Good luck to you!

Construction Business Owner, September 2008