Implementing technology is hard.
As a technology company our IT team has always been filled with people who have a wide range of technical skills and experiences, from software developers to graphic design experts, database administrators, and business analysts. And despite these advantages, even we can find implementing technology hard.
Most of our work is done with the public sector and that is a complex beast. So, to cope with all of our contacts, we use a CRM tool. This helps everyone in our business to see and manage who we are talking to, who we know and, of course, who we are working with. We first implemented our CRM tool (the market leading software as a clue) a few years ago and spent many months specifying what we wanted to achieve, how we wanted to structure the data, what reports we would create, what our usage policies would be. Good job all round.
Of course, 18 months later, the data was a mess, usage was low internally and the CRM tool was a toxic word in the office as staff were fed up of having it forced upon them by management. We refused to give up on the software because it wasn’t the provider’s fault we had made mistakes along the way, so we started again. We wiped the database clean and started with a blank piece of paper. This time we’ve done much better; we started very slowly and only scaled up usage over time to ensure we weren’t making mistakes along the way. However 6-12 months into our new version, we still aren’t getting the most from the software, and as useful a tool as it is for all staff, there’s a feeling it probably does a lot more than we use it for.
You see, you only get quality out if you’ve put quality in, in the first place.
What does this teach us, aside from the fact we should have paid for professional training on the software?
Most people buying technology aren’t technology people, and this is never truer than in local government. Technology is ‘implemented’ and then the provider is never to be seen again. The customer is left with a technology that doesn’t work for them, that they don’t know how to use, and the technology never delivers the benefits upon which it was purchased. And even the briefest training or advice comes at a cost.
So what should local government do about this?
In our opinion…nothing.
It is up to technology providers to adapt to their customers’ needs. Those in local government are under pressure and should only be concerned with technology when it is working for them, not against them. IT providers need to find new ways of delivering technology that makes adoption easy, that makes sense when used, and that delivers the benefits to the organisation that they promised during the sales process.
That’s why we look to understand what the technology could deliver an organisation and then partner with them to deliver those benefits. We measure the value the product is adding and work with customers to make the most of it.
Our customers get a partner that shares their goals, we get to add real value where we work, and it’s a much better model for working with a sector that just needs technology that works – as do we all.