It's Not All About the Tech - People Are Part of the Process

By Andrea Cannavina

Careful consideration at the end user level should be given any process, technology or application upgrade. Beyond the cost of the servers, equipment, software, licenses, integration and downtime, is going through it all only to have very few adopt the upgrade or, just as bad, use the upgrade as little as possible.

Now, it's only human nature - everyone resists change (even you). This is why it is imperative that you consider your end users early in the selection of any technology. A few things to mull over include:

Use familiar tools where possible. Lots of things can be done with just a phone these days!

Try not to add another physical thing to be cared for, charged or carried around. Web based solutions such as unified messaging do not require anything other than an e-mail address or internet connection.

If you do add another piece of equipment, try to have it perform double duty. A Treo is the equivalent of a Blackberry™ + cell phone (+PDA; +mp3 player, etc.)

If you can improve upon a known process - all the better! Definitely upgrade rather than introduce new.

End user training is vital. Factor in the cost for one on one, group or on line training for each type of user.

Along with training, add end user manuals, reference materials and on line access to support for improved adoption.

Lack of training is often heard as the reason new technology fails. However, not all users are accomplished software manipulators nor even typists for that matter. If a software or technology requires all users to become so, it may not be your best option.

And a word of caution - don't just listen to some consultant say you have to make your workers do it "this way". The work your staff has been doing was in existence long before there was any technology to help or any consultants to make money off of their recommendations. Sure, there will be instances where you'll have to say it's "my way or the highway" - but those should be few and far between.

In fact, poll your users - those in the trenches - ask them what they like and don't like about the processes, technology, software and equipment they use each day to perform their functions. Also ask about the software and processes used at previous employers and if they liked it better (and why). You will be surprised at how much valuable information and insight you get.

From that information you and your consultant(s) can tweak the tech to the work (and if the tech can't be tweaked you know you need to keep looking). The way I see it, it's much better to have happy staff than a happy consultant any day!

In the end, tailor the upgrade to the end user and not the other way around for the best possible return on your technology dollar investment.


Andrea Cannavina is a Digital Assistant and Certified Master VA who teaches professionals (including lawyers) how to upgrade their business processes to digital in order to get more done with less - less time, less resources and less stress! In her brick and mortar life, Andrea spent close to two decades as a legal assistant working in various sized law firms in and around New York City. A legal Virtual Assistant since 2001, Andrea has helped lots of businesses and individuals get digital in all the right places.

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