In my role of helping companies maximize technology and system adoption, I get a front row seat to see some really good work in the midst of really challenging situations, and it’s always interesting to understand why some projects succeed and others are abysmal failures.
It’s increasingly clear that the best implementations share a common differentiator, one that helps them truly gain the return on investment they were seeking from the project. Even better, this differentiator is not complicated or costly; it just requires awareness and desire to address it.
Know Your People
The early stages of an implementation project is an ”alphabet soup” of documents – the Business Requirements Document (BRD) to specify the business objectives, a Product Requirements Document (PRD) that specifies the features and functionality that will fulfill the business requirements, and the technologist’s Technical Requirements Document (TRD) that helps guide the build.
I believe the best companies have one more document that gives critical context to tie all of these together within the context of implementability, and this document is something I call the Human Requirements Document, or HRD.
The Human Requirements Document helps us to deeply understand and then proactively navigate key environmental factors that can spell the difference between success and failure.
So, what’s in an HRD?
This document captures the most important characteristics of how your organization really learns, adapts, and operates – and therefore is likely to process the upcoming change – while taking into consideration how those factors could vary based on geography, function, and an array of other attributes.
Many system integrators have a wonderfully disciplined and rigorous plan for deployment, but what works with one population might not work with another. A simple example can help make this point: if you were to bake a cake in Amsterdam, that exact recipe won’t work as well in Denver because the environment has some fundamental differences. Likewise, your implementation approach needs to reflect key differences in employees’ perceptions, culture, and ways of working.
How do you create the HRD?
At Root we have a team of social scientists and researchers who observe and catalog the critical differences in our clients’ environments through a mix of interviews, surveys, and focus groups. It’s important to use observation as well as query when constructing the picture of the environment, as people often have an unconscious bias that doesn’t show up in the words they say, but in how they act.
How do I use the information?
The path to transformational change is never a straight line, and we know people and organizations progress through a series of emotions as a project moves forward. We use our insights from the HRD to create a Change Engagement Roadmap to help us program the “interventions” that will be most useful at various project stages.
Very often, these are related to stakeholder management, training, communications and engagement, and performance management, but they can also involve other topics. Yes, it’s impossible to anticipate every potential challenge, but preparing for the most likely obstacles based on an in-depth knowledge of your people is invaluable.
Build Your People Into Your Change Initiative
There are many valid change frameworks available for technology implementations, and most of them need a significant dose of humanizing to be truly effective. Change is emotional, and if you spend the time to understand the needs of people in your organization, you can set your program up for maximum success. It’s all about spending the time to understand the way your people work and learn and how that changes across your company in terms of demographics, geographical locations, functions, and more. With this information in hand, regardless of which framework you use, you will be in better shape.
Helping people navigate through change is a passion of mine. If you would like to know more or have insights on what worked best for your business, I’d love to chat.