When you deploy new technology at an organization, you’re taking a step to grow your business. After all, technology allows us to process and manage more information at a faster speed, helping us accomplish more work without necessarily having to hire more people to get it done. While this is a great thing for expanding businesses, it’s important not to forget about the people who are affected by the cultural shift this causes.
New technology can often be challenged or feared by existing employees. They can worry that automated processes will replace them, and concerns over job security arise. But these fears can be quelled and attitudes can be shifted with strategic planning and a consideration of how people actually accomplish their day-to-day tasks.
When you implement new technology at an organization, the actual software is only part of the process—the other two parts are the overarching organization and the people within that organization who will use the technology every day. When organizations fail to take into account the relationship between these three parts, they often run into resistance from employees who don’t want to switch to digital, automated processes, and their business growth is stalled. To truly reap the business growth benefits that new technology has to offer, organizations need to take into account the technology, the organization itself, and the people who will use the technology.
Let’s start with the technology that’s going to be implemented. For technology to be successfully deployed, it needs to be embraced by everyone within the organization. The best way to achieve this is to involve your team in the discussion of which technology to adopt. It's crucial to choose software that will actually simplify the day-to-day lives of your employees. Providing examples of how the proposed technology will improve your employees’ lives is essential: without that assurance, people may fear they are being replaced.
The technology you select should also come with adequate training and be easy enough to use that implementing it won't bring your business to a screeching halt. Of course, not all your processes can be automated through technology at once. Because of this, we recommend a phased approach to automation. For HR or Accounts Payable, document management solutions especially need to be implemented in a phased approach to avoid creating further problems in your business processes.When you implement a document management solution in an organization that is currently 100% paper-based, complete automation can’t—and shouldn’t—happen overnight.
You also need to decide if your organization has the money and resources to move forward on a big initiative like this, or if you need to wait until the next budget cycle or after a big project is completed. It's important to consider what department or process would give your organization the biggest ROI for the first phase of implementation. Starting with a single department within your organization is a great way to litmus test the technology you're hoping to implement. Maybe your HR department is bogged down in paper-based processes or your AP document management solution isn't cutting it and needs to be digitized. If so, your departments could benefit from replacing filing cabinets and paper-based processes with one centralized digital repository where all your forms and reports can be stored. In this case, Webdocs or Webdocs Forms Management might be the first phase of your document management solution implementation.
Taking a phased approach to automation like this also allows your employees to witness the benefits of the technology first-hand. Waiting for documents to be approved, spending hours locating lost forms or data, or having to redundantly re-enter data into multiple backend business systems becomes exhausting for even the most committed employee. Showing them how new technology can free them up to focus on more creative, strategic tasks—or simply get more done in less time—can be extremely beneficial. These people can potentially become your departmental or organizational advocates. For any project to be successful, you need advocates that are motivated to see it through to the end. These individuals can be the spokespeople for the implementation process. Most companies assign a project manager to this position, although in some cases they will assign IT leads or department managers to lead up the project.
The people that will actually be using the new technology day in and day out are by far the most important part of this process. Many people may be hesitant to change their paper-based processes to digital ones out of fear of losing job security. The key to getting your team on board is really listening and understanding what those people do every day and showing them how their lives will be easier once the new technology is in place. Simplification is the overall objective. Assure them that automated business processes do not spell out unemployment; they actually make their jobs better by freeing them from those redundant, robotic tasks.
The Benefits of Ideal Positioning
In diagrams 1 and 2 you will see the difference between perceived ideal positioning and actual ideal positioning when integrating technology into an organization. Most people think they need to be right in the middle (as in diagram 1) between the technology, organization, and people, in order to have a successful project or experience. If only it was that easy! Since people are the ones who have to accept the technology for it to move forward and propel an organization, the people are the ones who will make your organization grow through technology.
Diagram 2 is the ideal position you want to be in, because it involves the people as well as the technology, and this is what gives an organization optimum availability for growth. When employees embrace technology and get on board, it allows them to be more productive and creates a more pleasant work environment.
Companies that achieve the ideal positioning or even get close to it are companies that grow at a steady, more stable pace. Some people refer to these companies as "directionally correct" as their business is aligned in a direction where the technology enhances the growth of the company by making their employees more efficient in their day-to-day work tasks. Once users embrace the technological changes within an organization, moving the bar to the next level of growth is just another step in the process.
A number of organizations find that once they receive employee participation and backing, they see employee hiring slow down because people are being more efficient, and there is less of a need for additional hiring. This does not mean you never hire anyone again, it just means that it stabilizes the business for growth. Overall, invest in the people who will be using your technology and they will help deliver a much better ROI for the technology you're purchasing.
To learn more about implementing automated business processes, request a demo of one of our forms and document management solutions.