68% of Technology Implementations fail without Experienced Experts1

Planning, managing and executing a technology implementation from start to finish is a complex task.  In this article we discuss what drives the complexities of these projects, some of the most common reasons for failure and steps that can be taken to better prepare your organization for implementation success.

There are several things that contribute to the complexity of technology implementations:

  • Various workstreams that all need to come together at a common endpoint
  • Multiple participating departments and third party suppliers
  • High visibility of the initiative because of the budget involved
  • Lack of experience in implementing complex solutions causing potentially unknown consequences – “You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know”

As a result, ensuring project success must become an organizations’ top priority.  Below is a list of four most common reasons that technology implementations fail when not utilizing experienced resources:

  1. Incorrect Resources selected/assigned/drafted for the project team
  2. No defined Project Plan, specific Implementation Methodology and Change Management Strategy
  3. Inconsistent or unclear project Goals
  4. Lack of Training Approach or Communication Strategy

To avoid these common mistakes, Himes Consulting Group (HCG) recommends the following:

1. Resources

Select implementation Sponsors that express, model, and reinforce the change through all stages of the implementation – The need for durable Sponsorship at the beginning, middle, and end of a business change is 30% to 50% of the implementation battle2. While many Sponsors are actively engaged at the time of project launch, it is important that they also demonstrate the change and model effective change behaviors at all times throughout the implementation.  Selected Sponsors that can do this will increase the probability of overall success.

Identify and implement a project team or steering committee that will be proactive and forward thinking in addition to decisive around current issues – While many project teams wait until very close to “go-live” to begin planning for the implementation phase, the best practice is to start to build readiness for the change very early in the project lifecycle. The fact is that resistance starts very early on, and waiting only makes the task of resistance management more time-consuming and difficult.

Select Sponsors and Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) that have the skills to manage resistance – No project team can successfully implement a business change on its own. For this reason, you must have a strong network of competent sponsors, steering committee members and / or SME’s known in their sphere-of-influence as having openness to change and the credibility to lead it.

Select project team members that have lessons-learned experience from past implementations – The classic definition of organizational insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. So why do so many organizations approach implementations in the same way time after time even though they are not getting a full return on investment, or the implementations stall or fail? Increase your probability of success by stacking the team with sponsors, managers, and individuals with a good, hands-on experience.

2. Project Planning, Methodology & Change Management Strategy

Create project plans and customized methodologies that include specific strategies and tactics for reinforcing the new behaviors – One of the core principles that experienced experts know is that you will not get the change you are seeking unless you change the behavioral reinforcements. No project plan can succeed unless there is a reinforcement strategy that rewards the new behaviors and penalizes reliance on the old behaviors or work-a-rounds.

3. Goals

Define success as a holistic, successful realization of all of the project objectives – Implementation success means on-time, on- budget, with all business, technical, and human objectives met. While getting a portion of the business change launched or installed is good, it’s just not enough. Organizations must strive for complete project success instead of module or individual department wins.

4. Training Approach & Communication Strategy

Develop a clear training and communication strategy early in the project to better define:

  • Impact to resources and departments
  • Degree of Change in user activities
    • Take users from current world to the desired outcome of the implementation

Consider a phased release schedule and training approach – This will ensure for enough time to pass for users to understand each change within a phase, adopt the change, incorporate that change into their standard process and open the opportunity for support to be provided before the next set of changes come their way.

Avoid an over-emphasis on Communications Plans that are one-way and top-down – Organizations still confuse a Communications Plan with an Implementation Plan and they are not the same thing. Too many Communications Plans rely on top-down, one-way vehicles like websites or emails that lack a means for gathering reactions and feedback from the targets of the change.  Use your Steering Committee and SME’s to assist with delivery of the message.  Ask Project Sponsors to reinforce the technology implementation and challenge users to embrace change.

So how do you get started? Make sure you are at least giving your organization an opportunity to succeed by ensuring you have the right resources and approach in place at the early stages of the project.  Where necessary, expanding the team to hire the necessary skills is the next best option if the talent or resources is not available internally.

Having completed multiple successful technology implementation projects, Himes Consulting Group has the expertise needed to successfully implement your technology implementation.

For additional information on this topic or to learn how Himes Consulting Group can help you, contact us at INFO@himesconsulting.com.


Works Cited

1 – Znet “IT Project Failures”, Available: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/projectfailures/study-68-percent-of-it-projects-fail/1175

2 – IMA “Top 10 Reasons for Implementation Failure”, Available: http://www.imakenews.com/imaworldwide/e_article001680694.cfm?x=bgW0Rl3,bj7NbMRQ,w

Executive Summary:

  • Technology Implementations are complex
  • Several factors contribute to this complexity
  • Common reasons why technology implementations fail include:
    • Incorrect resources
    • Poor planning
    • Unclear goals
    • Poor training & communication
  • Implementation failures can be avoided through:
    • Better resource selection
    • Reinforcement of new behavior
    • Holistic goals & measures
    • Clearer training & communication