When starting a new IT project, people often forget about the people. It seems like a no-brainer but without people technology is useless! I’ve worked on many IT projects that sounded great on paper but didn’t work out. The main reason is lack of communication to those most effected. In order to have a successful project, you need the buy-in from those who will be impacted by the change. It’s a huge mistake to surprise your staff with a new way of working that they should have been a bigger part of. Here are a few tips on getting buy-in and avoiding overcomplication.
Let them know, but not too early.
Surprising your workforce with a change in their workflow doesn’t work nor does involving non-key stakeholders too early. I find the best time is somewhere between planning and project kickoff. This allows for those impacted to voice their thoughts without getting into the weeds. It also allows for people to plan for the change. Most importantly, it makes them feel like part of the process and builds report.
Keep them informed of progress.
As the project progresses, keep your workforce informed periodically. This doesn’t mean updating them on every single deliverable but every couple of weeks to once a month, briefly let them know where the project is. Following Agile methodology, projects are expected to change along the way. Most users aren’t aware of this fact. Without keeping them abreast of the project status, they can easily interpret silence with lack of productivity. Even if the project is being delayed, it is best to let your end-users know. This will maintain confidence with their superiors and the positive momentum in the project.
Like above, you are building and maintaining good will in preparation for education.
Be flexible and compassionate.
When it comes to education, you must be willing to accommodate different learning and communication styles. This isn’t always easy but if you followed the above items, you should have gained some report. Education is a two-way street! Be compassionate for those you are educating – it can be very overwhelming for some. Follow up with those that are especially challenged by the changes.
In summary, letting people know of impending changes can be painful but is far better than keeping them in the dark. Use this opportunity to build your team’s morale, not destroy it. Technology can be as sophisticated as it wants but without people using it, it’s useless.