May  2019     Edition 143
New Systems require New Thinking

As the world turns, you can be sure that the systems and processes you use today will change.

  New technologies coupled with new or existing problems drives changes in systems and processes.   These changes can involve implementing a new technology or process, changing manufacturing methods, organizational changes, new policies and procedures, and more.

Those who are responsible for the decision to go forward with a new system do so because of the desire for improvement; such as improved productivity, quality, safety, working conditions, and to solve business problems and goals that could not be, or were difficult to address before.   

The first huge mistake

that often diminishes the value of a new system is this.  Most people, when faced with using a new system, will initially look at how to reproduce the way they used to do it with the old system.    This causes two problems; first, it may be very inefficient to replicate an old method of doing something using the new system, and second; the value of the new system is lost, i.e. you're not using the benefits of the new system.



If you have ever switched from an iPhone to an Android phone or visa versa, or from Windows to MAC, or even from Windows 7 to Windows 10, think about how you tried to figure out how to do the things the way you used to do it, and the frustration in having to learn a new way to accomplish pretty much the same thing.  So much so, that many new systems have an "emulate old way" mode so that users can use the old way in the new system.

Here's another example;

Consider your home PC, and how you back up your work (hopefully you do this).   You purchase a software product and service to help you back up (instead of the older way of copying your files to a thumb drive).  You identify what files / folders to automatically back up and every night your PC runs the backup software.  The benefit is that it's automatic and offsite, all good, but not nearly what you can do.  How about implementing an always backed up and available from anywhere strategy?  Google, Microsoft and Apple give you tons of free or low cost on-line storage.   Implement the backup systems and strategy to always backup, keeping multiple generations backed up and accessible from other PCs from any location.   Your stuff is always available, and you can provide others with limited access if needed.   If you're a Google Docs, or Microsoft 365 (online) customer, this is already being done for you.    Your smart phone, if setup correctly, automatically does this for you.

To really take advantage of the value of a new system

, you have to be OK with learning the new way the new system works and thinking about accomplishing tasks with this new way.  This is when productivity and efficiency are gained.   Trying to emulate the old way with the new system, while often possible, is usually inefficient and you generally lose much of the value of the new system.

Another huge mistake

when implementing a new system is how people are informed and trained on the new system.   Too often, training on a new system is all about learning the new features, new functionality, new methods of accomplishing current business practices.   Instead, if you want to really take advantage of a new system, learn about all the business problems the new system can address, both existing and especially the new ones.  Then, learn the features and functionality on how to use the new system to solve those problems.


: One area to consider changing how people are trained is when moving from corporate owned server and PC based applications to the Cloud.    For example, consider how a company sales team keeps track of and manages their customer leads and existing customers.   Traditionally, individual sales reps kept their own lists using spreadsheets, notes or word documents, and calendars.   Your company rolls out a cloud based system.   Of course, the first thing people learn to do is to load up their contacts and use the new system as a glorified contact management system.   The benefit is small.  Instead, the new system can replace the spreadsheets, the notes and word documents, the calendar and so much more.  It can help with forecasts, aging of leads, follow ups.  It integrates with your smart phone.  If a sales rep leaves the company, it takes almost no time to ensure the sales leads and contacts are transferred to others.  Customers can directly interface with you via a customer portal, so when they request information and need to change their information, they can do so.  So many new customer relationship issues can be addressed.   Train people on the business problems the new system can service, then train them on how to accomplish it.

The Takeaway:
  People resist using a new way with the new system because initially it's awkward, they don't know how it works, they are not fluent in it.  So rather than take the time to learn, they revert to the old way.    If you want to gain the productivity, efficiency and benefits of a new system, invest the time to learn it.   Learn the problems that the new system can address, then learn how to use the functionality to accomplish it.   That investment will almost always pay off, and sooner than you think.

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