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Pristine Blog

Business Transformation Hinges on People, not Technology

Posted by Xina Seaton on Feb 11, 2016 12:49:56 AM

Business Transformation
Transformation is the act or process of changing.

Just think about that for a minute. Business transformation is the act or process of changing your business. With this understanding it’s easy to see why transformation, enabled by technology, is about people. It causes people to think about their work differently, and to learn new tools and ways of working with one another to deliver positive outcomes.

But people resist change, especially when it is forced upon them. This resistance often causes a technology investment to fail to deliver on its value proposition. For this to change, you should think about how the technology will benefit the ones who are impacted by it because ultimately they are the ones who must adopt the better way and deliver results. Leadership must paint a vision for them so that they’ll want to change, not resist it.

Technology Improvements Must Deliver Value

Businesses are in business for one reason - to make money. Business leaders invest in technology in order to initiate changes that positively impact business outcomes. If the investments don’t increase revenues or decrease costs, they risk being cut from the next annual budget.

The executive management sees the desired result and decides on the means (AKA the technology) to achieve it. They dole out resources to “get it done” project managers who take the stated business objectives and go about making their project plan with tasks, roles, and deadlines designed to meet the goal.

Great, you’ve guaranteed the technology will be implemented on time and on budget. If you build it the people will come, right?

Manage Change, not Technology

They more than likely won’t. At least, they won’t come willingly. The employees being asked to use the new technology and change the way they work typically are not involved in the decision, yet they’re expected to jump right in and embrace the change now. The bottom-line is at stake here, and it’s time they got on board.

Put in this situation, employees respond as any human being would: they resist. Even if they’re the most easygoing or tech-savvy of people, they feel a hint of a two-year-old’s stubbornness. They don’t want to change. They’re happy with the way things are. They don’t want to be told to do things a new way. They think, “Why can’t we stick with our Cheerios? Do we really have to upgrade to Shredded Wheat?”

Business transformation isn’t about managing technology implementation. It’s about managing change. It’s helping employees transition from one “cereal” to another. It’s hard work; businesses have to counter the resistance to change.

They also have to respond to people’s perceptions of the new technology. Employees could be afraid of it or simply skeptical. The way they work gets the job done--why change? Technology can’t possibly be the answer to everything, no matter what their kids or smartwatch-crazed friends say.

Their fears and worries may be groundless, but it’s important to address them. Employees are the ones most impacted by a technology investment. They’re the ones using the tools every day, and they’re the ones that business transformation hinges upon. If their concerns and needs aren’t met, the business will struggle to change. Managers will constantly find pockets of resistance and fear that keep the company from meeting its objectives and realizing its full potential.

Strategic Plans Bridge Tactics and Results

To overcome the resistance, fear, and skepticism, businesses should develop a strategic plan that bridges tactics (the project manager) and results (executive management). A strategic plan, what we call a success plan at Pristine, manages projects end-to-end and increases the likelihood of a successful transformation.

The plan helps in a couple of ways. It establishes the quantitative and qualitative values that will be derived from the investment. It identifies potential risks and develops mitigation and response plans. It considers the best methods for training and communicating with employees. It also gives employees the support and resources needed to change how they work and ultimately transform the business.

It does all that because business transformation isn’t about technology. It never has been. It’s about people and processes, and what can be accomplished through technology.

Image: Ed Schipul (Creative Commons)

Topics: Change Management, technology investments, project management, business transformation