Security, pricing and functionality are all essential aspects of buying new technology, but people should be the number one consideration.
– We survey new clients to understand why our solution was selected over another. The answer we hear most frequently: “Your people.”
– At a recent ARMA meeting we had a panel discussion about going paperless and switching to digital processes. We all agreed the impact on “people” was an important area to consider.
Long before you start demoing potential software, make sure you have assembled the right people to think through how implementing a new solution will impact your organization. How are people getting the job done today and how will things change when you implement your new solution? Technology is designed to make us more efficient and help us do our job better. Yet there will be people who take issue with the change simply because it’s a change, even if it helps them and the organization. How can we win these people over and make them embrace the new way of doing things? This is one reason why smart organizations are making change management a component of adopting new technology.
So you’ve got your team assembled and now it’s time to start evaluating technologies and talking to vendors which means you’ll be working with salespeople and perhaps a subject matter expert who supports the salesperson. Are they professional, are they knowledgeable, do they respond promptly to questions, did they do a good job presenting their solution? We should expect all of these characteristics in a potential new business partner, but that’s not enough. Did they take the time to understand your business and your unique needs?
When you are demoing technology, ease of use is as important as features. Does the solution have an intuitive design, is the help section page after page of text or easy-to-follow tutorial videos? Assuming you are selecting a cloud solution, does it work on any browser, does it work on any device? Remember it’s people using this new technology so it needs to fit the way we work. Teleworking and BYOD are characteristics of most companies. In a world where the lines between work and life continue to blur we need access to information when, where and how we need it. Remember, we’re all accustomed to having “an app for that” and expect to use a solution with minimal training on our favorite device. If people find using new software challenging and cumbersome, don’t expect quick adoption.
Now you’ve short-listed the vendors to a couple. If price, features and security are all close to the same, “people” should be the deciding factor. When making your reference calls, try and learn more about the people who work at the company you are considering. How was the implementation process, is support exceptional, do they have an account manager, do clients have input on new features? You may have fallen in love with a new technology, but if you don’t hear good things about the people who support and develop that solution, I’d think twice before signing a contract.
Throughout my career, I’ve been both the buyer and provider of technology and there are a couple of quotes that stick in my head that remind me of the importance of people.
- “I buy from people, not a company” – An executive at a company I worked at years ago made this statement when he disqualified a vendor because of their arrogance.
- “I judge a company by how they react when something goes wrong” – An executive who selected our technology made this after hearing how we responded quickly to an audit they were dealing with.
Remember these quotes and have high expectation when selecting new software. Don’t forget the human elements at every step of the buying process. Your employees (people) deserve it.
By BJ Johnson, VP of Solutions at Access.
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