broken, discarded umbrella

Here’s a fact about corporate IT investments: All investments made in hardware and software, development and deployment are sunk cost, never to be recovered.

That is why IT investments need to start generating as much business value as possible from day one. And if employees do not adopt and use the IT system in ways that make them more productive or innovative than they were without it, it won’t generate any business value.

Despite this we see and hear many stories of IT investments that go ignored by the intended users and fail to generate the expected business benefits. 

Why is this? 

1. Starting with 'What' Instead of 'Why'

The most common mistake organizations make when considering a new system or service is rushing into purchase without spending much effort on answering the "why” — why you want it in the first place. 

What do you want to achieve? Who are the intended users? What do they need to do? What problems do they face? What should be the outcome? 

Finding out the “why” can be a bit tricky, and many find it easier to jump directly to the "what" — technologies, products and features. Yet if you get the “why” wrong, you won’t get any value at all from the investment. 

2. Paying Too Little Attention to the User Experience

Organizations prioritize delivering a great user experience to consumers. The user experience can be the difference between success and failure.

In the world of corporate IT however, a great user experience is never the priority. Other things always come first, such as saving money, cutting lead times in processes, complying with laws and regulations, or protecting information from falling into the wrong hands. 

As a result, a positive user experience becomes a “nice to have,” considered only after all other factors have been addressed. 

Businesses that force employees to use a system or service that create a bad user experience, will end up with a lot of frustrated and unproductive employees. Given the choice, employees will choose not to use it at all.  

3. Blaming Individuals Instead of the System

W. Edwards Deming introduced the 94/6 rule, claiming that 94 percent of all problems are caused by the process or system rather than the individuals. 

Despite this, management often measures and evaluates the individuals, not the system. 

Deming told us to start with the assumption that the system is broken. Most times this assumption will prove correct, and management is responsible to fix the system if broken. 

Yet when a new IT system or digital service fails to deliver the expected ROI, companies fall into the blame game, blaming employees for not adopting or using the system as intended. 

Start with the assumption that something's wrong with the system — either with how it was designed, how it was introduced, how it was implemented, or if it was the right investment to begin with.

Title image "broken" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  sk8geek