When taking on the task of keeping up with technology in business, no matter how established the organization or the size, there are a few key factors to consider to ensure the right technology solution is chosen, and the proper steps are taken.
Without a systematic and methodical approach, any major technology decision could be rooted in misinformation or lack of information, resulting in a change that causes productivity loss, non-adoption by users, or a solution that becomes costly to scale or implement correctly.
When taking on or adapting to new technology in the workplace, the approach to technology changes should include three major steps:
The first and arguably most important phase of the approach involves discovering and defining the requirements for the sought-after or emerging technology solution. To enable this process, there are a few intermediary steps that should be taken, in the form of tangible artifacts:
1. Current State and Future State Analysis
- To understand the technology and business needs, the decision-makers need to understand what the business is currently doing, and how the business wants to function in the future.
2. Gap Analysis
- After an understanding of the current and future state of the technology and business is reached, a gap analysis should be conducted, defining what is currently missing in the business practices.
3. Technology Roadmap
- As a key artifact for all businesses, a technology roadmap should be included in all technology change initiatives, to ensure that a solution aligns with the strategic vision.
After defining the requirements for this the emerging technology solution, the next step is to evaluate different solution options. To do so, three key dimensions: People, Process and Technology, are the focus of the evaluation.
- As the main users of the chosen solution, both the people in the current role and how they function, and the ideal configuration of people in your business context must be examined. What are they used to using? What do they need to have? What do they want to have? All of these must be considered.
- Both the business processes and the current technology process must be a part of the evaluation. Business Process considerations: In what process flow must this solution function? Can there be any process improvements? How might a technology solution enable a process improvement?
- The chosen technology solution, as a key outcome, must be carefully evaluated. A technology change can easily be derailed by choosing a solution that is either not precise enough and therefore not helpful for the user or does not meet all of their needs, forcing them to use multiple applications, creating confusion and bad user experience. A holistic view should be taken, to ensure that the chosen solution fully meets the business needs.
Each potential solution option is evaluated across these three dimensions, which should be clearly defined in the Requirements phase. A common evaluation is conducted using a scoring system, across the three dimensions, including cost and partner fit. The scoring system should be weighted, based on the importance of each Requirement to the business.
After the evaluation stage is completed, the most suited solution plan will have been chosen, and with the future state requirements already enumerated, the new system can be implemented. This is a critical stage and is oftentimes multi-threaded. At this stage, varying amounts of training and transition will be required to ensure the smooth and positive adoption of the new process and technology. Using a flexible and agile approach is very beneficial during this stage, implementing it with an iterative rollout while taking user feedback into account, to support and encourage adoption.
To conduct a successful technology change process, and implement a new solution or system, it is important to be methodical and tactical in approach. By following these general steps, you can ensure that the technology decision your company makes is productive and fits your business requirements.