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Why do IT Modernization Projects Fall Short of Promise and how does End User Training Help?

Updated: Mar 20

Businesses spend billions of dollars and time in IGA transformation and modernization initiatives with goal to improve end users experience, gain operational efficiency and enhance security. Often the ROI is not as expected. Kunal Mehta discusses why transformation projects fall short of promises and how organizations can realize intended benefits with focus on often neglected end user training.


End Users are The Customers

Businesses spend millions of dollars collectively in transformation and modernization projects. Transformation projects are larger IT projects that significantly change the key technologies, processes, and functions being used. Typical example would be Identity Management (IAM), Identity Governance (IGA) modernization with planning & implementation of commercial IGA & IAM solution and retiring existing solution. The end users are those who ultimately use these technologies and processes that surround it. Technology and processes serve little purpose of the intended audience (i.e. the end users don’t embrace them). In the past, it was assumed that end users will adapt to new technologies or processes, and little attention was given to understand the need, experience, and expectations from the end users. This assumption has led to many businesses not able to realize the full potential of investment they have made in technology and their end users.


Who are the end users? The short answer – everyone. From CEO down to the lowest experienced users. All of these are end users in varying degrees. As per a research, 70% of large scale IT transformation fail to achieve their objectives. For realizing benefits of transformation projects, it’s paramount to understand who are the end users and the impact on these users. Businesses that have succeeded in realizing the potential of transformation projects have understood the various end users, their varying needs, and have come up with plan to better educate these users in meaningful ways including by utilizing end user training programs.


Change is Hard

Before I drive deep in to how business can plan training programs better to realize transformation objectives, we need to understand why change is hard. Users are used to certain ways of doing things in organizations. For example, they have figured out current technologies, understood the limitations and how to overcome those limitations, and seek support. Now, when users gets communicated about a change that is coming – no matter how big or small – the first instinct is to resist the change. We have seen that the same users who complain and are dissatisfied with current technologies and/or processes don’t appreciate or want to embrace a new technology that would otherwise allow them to be more efficient with their day to day job duties.


Why?


From experiences we have gained from planning, implementing, and observing technology transformation projects, we see that many businesses are open to spend large sum of time and money on technology and assume that the end users will find their way to adjust and adapt to the new technology & processes. The reality is much different.


The key reasons why end users resist the change and avoid embracing new technology can be summarized with the failure to:

  • Clearly communicate the importance of change, what is changing and why

  • Provide adequate means for end users to seek out help & support

  • Seek input from end users who are the ultimate customers

  • Address concerns (e.g. fear of job security, timing, and adverse impact on other initiatives)

  • Achieve behavioral changes of end users


From our working with organizations of different sizes and across multiple industries, we have identified a key area that is often neglected but is crucial to the success of transformation programs. Transformation programs can be successful with end user oriented training that is effective and help address end user’s concerns and allow behavioral changes for a successful IT transformation projects.


Effective End User Training

IT transformation projects typically last several months, and there is sense of taking a milestone or entire initiative “live” as soon as feasible. Often times, the enablement of IT team that will be responsible to own the solution post go-live is busy coming up to speed with the changes themselves. This gets combined with these pressures and a change in what they used to do vs. what they will do in the future result in an often neglected important end user perspective. If the team who is part of planning, implementation and eventual support feels they are “drinking from a fire hose”, it is of utmost importance that a proper training is planned for the end users. How would you plan a better training for end users?


Leadership buy-in and involvement: We strongly suggest to have senior leadership getting involved by providing oversight, and be involved in the planning, execution and fine-tuning of training initiatives. End users are more likely to pay attention when they see senior leaders from not only their own department/division but also from across the organization being committed, are serious and involved. This allow end users to realize the importance of such transformation initiatives to the company and why their participation in embracing the change is important to the organization.


Understand the end users: Start with answering what is the change, how the change is important to different user types (or stakeholders), the business, and who will be using the new solution. Answering these question will help identify the end user type. For example, if its new software that is used every day, it has impact to entire user base of company. On other end, Identity Management or Identity Governance will have different impact on different users – e.g. end user will need to learn new way of accessing systems & applications, managers and above will need to understand how to request access or how to certify access. Operations and service desk will have different need to learn how to support and be the first line to respond to the initial onslaught of questions and frustrations from end users. Learning the end users allows planning the training that is optimized.


Allocate training budget and accountability: Don’t neglect the need for post go live ongoing need from different end users. We have seen organizations do a short sprint of communication and then let users come up speed, which is detrimental to adaptation of the transformation project and results in end user dissatisfaction while increasing risk to business where a user may be tempted in bypassing intended tools and processes. Instead having a team who is tasked and is accountable to lead the transformation and organizational behavioral changes. This team should include top leaders including CISO, CTO, CRO, SMEs and line of business representatives. Let this team plan and execute the support of different end users type, effective pre go live and post go live communication and build a support structure. Effectively done, this step becomes critical in realizing the intended benefits of the programs.


Customize training: One size doesn’t fit all. Different user will have different needs. Plan to have concise and user specific training that answer “Ws” i.e. what is changing, why it is changing, what was before and now, what resources are available for end users to learn and feel comfortable, who they can reach out when they run into issues or have feedback.


Don’t ignore feedback: Business have spent a good chunk time and budget in getting the intended changes in production. However, be prepared to have a communication channel that allow end users to voice their feedback and have the implementation team including the leadership team understand common issues , concerns. This helps refine the solution, training and education that in long run will benefit the business.

Communicate: It’s important to have regular updates. In today’s environment, all organizations have multitude of options to have effective communication. Utilize the mediums available including emails, meetings, website, pop up notifications, posters & flyers etc. Consider communication long before intended change to help end users to start mentally preparing for upcoming change and start to know the what’s and why’s.


Conclusion

Transformation initiatives of any size and complexities are never easy. From executive and leadership commitment, understanding key reasons of why end users resist change would allow businesses and its leaders to better planning to come up with effective change management, communication and training plans.


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About CredenceIA Consulting

CredenceIA Consulting brings over 20 years of experience working with organizations of all sizes and complexities. This allow CredenceIA Consulting advisors to get the best value and outcome within time and budget. CredenceIA Consulting provides advisory and implementation solutions. We have a successful track record of IAM implementations via our award winning team. CredenceIA Consulting brings value with its robust project planning, execution and management expertise.


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