By Dave Hannon
One of the most important and most challenging aspects of an IT implementation is getting the eventual end-users of a business-focused solution to provide their input on the solution before it's implemented. However, the answer to this challenge is actually quite simple: the IT team has to kidnap them.
For example, if you’re implementing a finance-focused solution, then the eventual users of this solution are the finance team. So you'll need their input on how the solution is configured and what options will be turned on and what the screens should look like. After all, they’re the experts in this area. This isn’t back-end middleware we're talking about, all thick with code.
But getting free time carved out with finance people is an exercise in frustration. Not that other organizations aren’t busy, mind you. But finance teams have deadlines. Real deadlines. And deadlines create emergencies, both real and perceived (take it from an editor). And finance’s level of frustration with IT in general is probably at its peak during this stage because if their IT was running smoothly you probably don’t need to implement something new. So you’re going to get some of that frustration pointed at you. They’re going to spend some time venting about the legacy system even though you’re there to replace it.
So sitting with them at their desk to get their input isn’t going to cut it. Their phones are going to be ringing and emails pinging, bosses coming by to check on TPS reports, you know the drill. Bringing them to an in-house tra
ining room just isn’t far enough. No, the implementation team has to kidnap these users and bring them off-site and (more importantly) off-network so they can provide their undivided attention.
Yes, it will cost you some money. You may even have to spring for some catering. And you probably have to bring in a few temps to cover the low-level finance work for a while (if for no other reason to give the “real” finance folks a tiny sense of security—“call me if anything catches fire”). And you’re going to get some pretty vehement pushback from those finance folks to the whole idea – again, IT is not their best friend at this period.
But you’re talking about the success of a very expensive IT implementation here. And the success depends on how quickly and how well the finance team leverages this new solution. You’ve got to see the forest through the trees. You’ve got to kidnap the finance team, physically drive them (preferably blindfolded in a white van with tinted windows to an undisclosed location for effect) and seat them in front of a computer and get their feedback. Because otherwise, you’re going to hear about it later.
And finance is just one of the groups you may have to abduct. Just wait until your PLM implementation and you have to abduct the engineering staff (that one involves renting Ferraris and cardboard cutouts of the Mythbusters cast.) I’m sorry – I know this is not a strength you've listed in your LinkedIn profile, but you have to do this.