Did you over-promise on technology?

If you are a true believer in the value of HR technology, then you probably spend time telling stakeholders about all the benefits it can bring.

When you get funding for a project I expect you’ll then be excited to tell people about the wonderful things the technology can potentially do.

And – if I’m right – just like before, you’ll probably dismiss any implementation concerns with the promise that the process will go smoothly, this time.

The reality is often different

 Okay, I think we all know what happens next. Surprise, surprise, the implementation takes much longer than expected.

In addition to this, not all of the features get implemented, and a lot goes wrong.

Where problems lie

Often problems result from inadequate implementation, however, even before we get to implementation the question is whether we’ve set ourselves up to fail by over-promising.

In other words, did you let your enthusiasm cloud your judgment on what a realistic outcome is likely to be?

If you did (and most people do), here are some areas to double-check your promises on:

  • Time frames: It’s exceedingly difficult to meet implementation deadlines. Hofstadter’s Law states that it always takes longer than you expect – and that’s even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law! So, roll out the process in small phases to minimize the risk that your completion date will be wildly unrealistic.

 

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  • Shiny objects: More often than not, some sexy aspect of your software (e.g., AI writing job descriptions for you), won’t actually work in practice. So don’t promise to deliver unproven features; just promise to pilot them to gain an understanding of what is possible.

 

  • Everything will be better: Even the best upgrades usually leave users disappointed, because some things were easier the old way. So, be upfront that there will be a few unavoidable trade-offs in functionality or ease of use while being confident that, on the whole, the new software is a good step forward for the organization.

 

  • Headaches. We don’t usually promise users that an implementation will create headaches. But we probably should because that’s one promise we could keep! At the very least be sure not to promise the implementation will be painless.

 

The golden rule of client management is to under-promise and over-deliver.

With tech, there is a strong tendency to over-promise.

So let’s set ourselves up for success by reigning in our enthusiasm and keeping our promises modest.

David Creelman is CEO of Creelman Research. Based mainly in Toronto and partly in Kuala Lumpur, he’s best known for his research on the latest issues in human resources.

He works with think tanks such as Talent Tech Labs (New York), Works Institute (Tokyo), Workforce Institute (Boston) and CRF (London). He’s collaborated with leading academics such as Henry Mintzberg (leadership development), Ed Lawler (“Built to Change”) and John Boudreau (future of work).

His books include The CMO of People: Manage employees like customers with an immersive predictable experience that drives productivity and performance with GrandRound’s CHRO Peter Navin; and Lead the Work: Navigating a world beyond employment with John Boudreau (USC) and Ravin Jesuthasan (Willis Towers Watson).

You can connect to Mr. Creelman on LinkedIn

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