Crack the code of change to beat user resistance

End user resistance to change is a huge stumbling block to successful technology implementations, and IT gets the blame when users don't use the technology, according to author and Australian Graduate School of Management (AGM) contributor James Carlopio.

Speaking at Wireless Enterprise World in Sydney last week, Carlopio said organizations have to crack the code of change when implementing new technologies.

"If people don't use it, there is no going back," he said, adding that more than 50 percent of implementations fail to deliver promised benefits.

Those working in IT, he said, need to broaden their minds when tackling projects admitting that implementations are complex.

"We just assume that implementation means rollout and install which is why so many projects fail; we forget there is a whole range of social factors involved in implementation and that's part of our job too."

Carlopio says discussion, disagreement and experimentation can make a real difference and encourage end users to embrace technology changes. He said IT needs to help users understand the advantages of new technology and help them discover "what's in it for me".

"You have to let people know the 5 W's - who, what, where, when and why - with the focus on education and training," Carlopio said.

Resistance is often the result of past failures so IT executives need to accept a degree of end user cynicism, he said.

"One study found that 31 percent of projects were cancelled before completion, 53 percent had overrun their budgeted costs and had impaired functionality, and only 12 percent of the 3682 current projects in the 356 companies surveyed, were on time and on budget," Carlopio said, adding that organizations shouldn't blame the technology.

Howe Leather IT manager Ray Williams has a number of tactics up his sleeve to convince reluctant users of the benefits of new technology.

"Usually we try hand holding, sitting down with the users and being patient when teaching them how to use the technology," Williams said.

"But sometimes you have to back them into a corner by taking away their old way of carrying out tasks, effectively removing their safety blanket; this is worst case scenario," he said.

Eurobodalla Shire Council IT manager Heinz Matti says end user acceptance at the municipality has generally been high.

"Normally people hear about the implementation well in advance and are keen to try it," Matti said.

"They might struggle a bit at first, but they're never reluctant to give it a go."

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