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Successful Technology Implementation Requires Buyer Preparation

Mise-en-placeWhat are the ingredients for a successful technology implementation for customer experience management? Obviously, selecting the right technology is important. And yet, with all the high-quality technology choices available, an astonishingly high number of technology implementations fall short of success. The Standish Group, a research firm that tracks the state of the software development industry, found in a survey of 50,000 IT projects worldwide that just 29% were considered to be successful; the rest were either “challenged” (52%) or “failed” (19%). Moreoever, this is an annual survey that has been conducted since 1994, and in the last four years, those ratios have stayed largely the same.

Insight for what makes a successful technology implementation is desperately needed

It is Digital Clarity Group’s belief that the success rate should be much higher. To this end, DCG’s new VOCalis research initiative is designed to gather data-driven insight into how and why projects fail, and how the three key participants in any given project – the customer, the technology vendor, and the service provider – can avoid these failures.

In 2016, DCG has interviewed a wide range of sponsors of enterprise IT projects in North America and Europe. These interviews add to our knowledge base gained from conducting scores of technology selections for buy-side clients over the last few years. Our analysis of these results is yielding themes around common pain points and pitfalls in these projects.

The right technology does not guarantee a successful technology implementation

One major finding is something we have long suspected: more often than not, issues having nothing to do with the technology are what cause projects to go off the rails. Moreover, in some cases problems could have been avoided if buyers had been better informed about the best ways to work with vendors and service providers and about how to be most effective in ensuring a successful implementation.

In a newly published report, I describe three actions a buyer can take to ensure that their implementation gets off on the right foot.

  • Assemble a team with best-fit capabilities. In addition to a project lead and executive sponsor, a technology implementation requires input and knowledge from multiple perspectives, and those perspectives need to be part of the project team. These include specialists in strategy, IT, marketing, marketing, and measurement. There also need to be people who will be working in, and with, the new systems once they are up and running.  If it is a new CMS, for example, there should be content creators and managers.
  • Agree on a common measure of success. On time and on budget tend to be the standard measures for many vendors and service providers for determining if they delivered a successful implementation. Yet our research is uncovering that there are systems delivered to these metrics which end up with buyer dissatisfaction if enterprise adoption is poor or if they have difficulty getting the post-implementation support they need. Before an engagement even begins, buyers need to spend time determining what success will look like – will it be a certain measure of internal adoption, increased sales within a single timeframe, etc – once the new technology is up and running.
  • Prepare for consistent collaboration with vendors and service providers. Viewing a CEM-focused technology implementation as something to outsource to a third party and forget about until the “go-live” stage is asking for failure. Vendors and service providers cannot do it all alone: they need ongoing guidance and feedback from the buyer’s side throughout the implementation. Navigating the buyer’s internal organization, structure, processes, and culture need the insider’s perspective, and need that perspective regularly and consistently. This will ensure that there are no surprises or internal obstacles that might cause delays or decrease effectiveness. The fact that more and more implementations are using agile methodologies, which include frequent iterations, further supports this consistent collaboration need.

As our VOCalis program gets underway, we’ll be writing more insights about the data and how you can use those insights in your organization. In the meantime, check out our recent post on how to avoid disaster with better agency partner selection, or contact us for more information.



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