The Human FactorA few years ago I decided that it was time for me to spend more time exercising at home. I love riding my bike, but it’s not always convenient and with a 3 year old, it’s often dark outside before I ever get a chance to exercise. So, I started doing some research online for elliptical machines – you know, those bicycle-like, smooth-gliding machines that are perfect for those of us with aging knees. After finding the “perfect” elliptical, with every bell and whistle known to man, I decided to make the purchase.

 When it arrived, I was impressed.  This was clearly a state-of-the-art machine, and had audio hookups, a fan to blow on me, multiple heart rate monitors, and even a place to put my drink and remote control. I was convinced that this would be everything I needed (and more) to stay fit.  But then, an interesting thing happened.  The elliptical sat there – in my bonus room, all nice and shiny, full of great functionality and promise, but unused.  As time went on, my schedule didn’t let up – in fact it got even more busy. I always made excuses for why I couldn’t exercise right now; it was always something. Over time, this promise of something more – of me getting in better shape – seemed to fade, and this very practical and expensive piece of equipment sat unused, until I ultimately sold it (yes, you guessed it, for a fraction of the cost).  Soon, I had to face the music and tell my fancy elliptical - “It’s not you, it’s me.”

imageHave you experienced anything similar, whether in your personal life or in business?  We have great intentions, sometimes even crystal clear goals, but at the end of the day it is us - you and I - who ultimately determine the return or value that we derive from these tangible things in our lives. As we work with clients every day on collaboration and relationship management projects, we see the same scenario playing out time and time again.  Not in terms of elliptical machines, but in terms of their technology purchases. Just like ellipticals, technology is not bad – in fact, technology is a great tool, which helps us achieve amazing things. But as with any tool, it needs a user in order to be effective. Without me using the elliptical, it was giving me a return-on-investment (ROI) of exactly zero - zilch, nil - and the same holds true for your projects or initiatives as well. No matter how great the project, the tool, the stakeholder commitment, or the budget, if people do not use the tool, there will be no ROI and certainly no value, and the project will at best struggle, and at worst be deemed a failure.

The latest technology out there today is compelling and can do great things. And it’s true, a few could revolutionize the very way you do business.  But in an effort to do more with less, move faster than competitors, be agile and lean, and choose “best of breed” technology, we often see organizations forget about the very ones who will make the investment successful and worthwhile. Just as my elliptical sat new, shiny and unused , we see many SharePoint projects that are full of rich and often useful functionality, but the users either do not know how, or have no reason to use the new system.  This can be caused by numerous things, and I’ll save that for another blog, but we see it vary from lack of training, not involving the users early in the design process, low levels of employee engagement, and sometimes a lack collaboration culture (again, I’ll save that for another blog).  We often call this The Human Factor, and the more we work with these technologies, the more we see the need for a focus on the WHO and not the WHAT. Today, nearly 60% of our new clients are what we call CPR clients – organizations who have tried (sometimes multiple times), and continue to struggle or fail with these technologies. In our experience, high on the list of reasons why most are not meeting expectations is that a technology or tool drove much of the decision-making process.

At the end of the day, people are the ones who “create stuff” in our organizations. Regardless of the technology - the glitter, the goals, the plans, or the promise - if our people are not behind it and engaged in it, every effort will fall flat, and collaboration and relationship management initiatives such as SharePoint and CRM are no exception to this.

If you’d like to know more about how we help other organizations in these areas, feel free to Contact Us.