Food, Glorious Food
Since the implementation, Blais has been presenting a paper called "End-User Adoption is a Process, Not a Project" at IT seminars across Ontario. In addition to her main message, she has also been sharing a secret with fellow IT executives desperate to get their users on side: If you feed them, they will come.
"It's one thing I learned about users — feed them and they will always show up. So when I had a nine o'clock meeting I would order in continental breakfast from 8.50am. It's amazing: they would come 15 minutes early just to ensure they had their choice of pastry," Blais says.
"What does a continental breakfast cost — two or three dollars a person? And you know what? I didn't have anybody walking in half an hour after the meeting started or not showing up. If people said they were coming, they came. And I know that part of it was because we fed them. It does work, and it doesn't matter whether you're doing content management or a database system, or a membership system or a financial system, if you really want to be successful, I know now that you need to really involve your users. And feeding them helps.
"When the consultants were here, I would order in lunch and I would invite the key people to come and have lunch with the consultants, even if they weren't working with them yet. Over these lunches the users started to become familiar with the consultants and their personalities — you know, to build this level of comfort."
Blais thinks she has discovered the secret to successfully implementing complex IT projects. Not bad for the cost of a few muffins and recognition that process, not project, is the key word to describe end-user adoption.
Sidebar:Steps to Successful Vendor Selection
A long journey, but worth it
- » List of Requirements
- Asked the users to provide input — based on their needs in a replacement CMS
- Asked the IT staff and Web developers to provide input — based on their needs in a replacement CMS
- Reviewed the lists carefully to ensure the requirements were clearly defined and reasonable — reviewed the list of cons previously defined
- Encouraged the users to research the market on what software was available and receiving some recognition through Internet searches, magazines etc
- » Vendor Selection
- Selected vendors to send the first list of requirements to
- Contacted the vendors to identify the sales
- Ensured they were interested in winning the business
- Knew our budget limitations
- » Distributed Requirements
- Gave the vendors a reasonable date for submitting their responses
- Offered to clarify any requirements and shared the clarification with all of the vendors
- Eliminated vendors who did not respond or did not respond by the defined date
- Prepared a spreadsheet of responses for easy comparison by both users and IT
- » Response Review
- Key users reviewed the responses at a roundtable discussion
- Reviewed the "new" features and functions of products
- Identified and defined the key requirements of a new CMS
- Eliminated vendors whose responses did not meet these requirements
- » Vendor Follow-Up
- Worked with users and IT and developed a supplementary list of questions/requirements for the remaining vendors
- Additional product functionality
- Training details
- Technical specifications of the product
- Pricing information
- Licensing information
- Implementation costs and schedules
- Consultants and support offered by each vendor
- » Product Demo
- On-site or Webcast demos arranged
- Vendors informed of end-user and technical staff participation, so they could prepare accordingly
- » User and IT Review
- IT group met to discuss infrastructure, components and fit with our infrastructure
- Features and functionality of each product were reviewed with users
- Identified the three product solutions that fit most of our needs
- » Licensing and Maintenance
- Licensing costs
- Multiple Web sites
- Concurrent users
- Does test environment count as a licence?
- Maintenance costs
- What percentage of the retail cost?
- Phone support/online support
- Are all updates and new releases included?
- How many users can log support calls?
- What is the response window?
- What is the escalation procedure?
- » Implementation Questions
- Estimate of time for implementation
- Vendor's involvement
- Local consultants
- Consultant expenses and their guidelines
- The availability of their consultants
- » Final Product Demo
- Short listed vendors invited on-site for an in-depth product demo and final review
- Key users invited
- Worked with the users in preparing a pro and con list of the final products
- Vendors asked to submit a formal price quote (best price)
- Requested at least two referees that had been using the product for at least one year
- » Reference Checks
- Each referee was asked to respond to a list of questions, which included user queries
- If the contact could not answer all of the questions, we asked if there was someone else who could
- Responses were documented and shared with both the users and IT staff
- » Choosing the Winner
- Reviewed the price quotes noting any available discounts
- MADE THE BIG DECISION
- Notified the successful vendor and booked the first planning meeting
- Notified the vendors who were not successful
Source: Janet Blais, Director of IT, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario
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