New System Introduction

I have been thinking about readiness for change and the way we introduced new systems to our customers.  The general scenario is that we do business analysis to find out what are the requirements for the new system.   We then get key people to sign off on the requirements.  Then we do a overall design of the solution and then detailed design and develop the programs.  Then we do unit testing and then system testing.  We then hand it over to production to put the system into production.  Production does more testing to ensure integrity of the systems. 

Then we tell the people who want the system that it is ready for use.  If this new system is new way of looking at things or a new way of thinking about data, likely the people using the system will have to make some major changes in the way they do things.  How long have they been waiting from the time we did the analysis to the time the system is ready?  If that time has been a few months, I can imagine it will be difficult for people to adopt the new way.  If they are really not ready, they will find all kinds of things wrong with the new approach.  Much of this is related to peoples reluctance to change.  Maybe they were not even involved in the decisions of the features of the new  system. 

Another common problem is the people who need to learn the new system, already have a job that takes them more time than they have now.  When are they going to get time to learn the new system.  Does their boss cut them some slack and arrange time for them to learn the new way.  Does the boss communicate the importance of learning the new system. 

So when a new system is being introduced, we should not be surprised that we get push back from the people who must change the way they have always done things to use the new system. 

The unfamiliar is scary and only a few people are early adopters.  I think a phased introduction of new ways is a good idea.   Each phase providing bottom line results is a far better way to ensure the successful introduction of a new system.  In addition as each phase is implemented, we help the people reflect on the lessons learned and how things can be improved.

A clear message must come from the project sponsor on the importance of the successful implementation of the new system.  The sponsor must support the introduction and be clear how important it is to the him/her that we successfully implement to system.  If people have legitimate problems, these should be address but excuses should not be tolerated.  Clear support from the sponsor increases readiness to use the new system significantly.

The problem often is readiness of the people who develop and are running the system to deal with the fear of the people using the system.  Often the technical challenges of getting a system passed all the test and retrogression testing, etc.  have been huge.  So how much readiness do the developers have in dealing with a reluctant user.  The saga continues.

More later on ways of introducing change.

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