In my work as a management consultant at Olingo I come across lots of companies and organisations that expect miracles when they buy a new tool for their business. In this blog I describe the most common mistakes and what you should bear in mind to avoid them.
Three common mistakes with tools
1. A tool is bought to solve a problem that doesn't relate to the tool. Look at the newcomer to golf, replacing his clubs with the most expensive set in the shop.
2. A tool is bought that is not in line with the user's needs. Look at the big city commuter, edging his way through the morning rush hour in a Porsche.
3. A tool is bought, but it is not managed and users don't know how to use it. Look at the company that buys an advanced espresso machine, but no one has responsibility for cleaning and refilling it, and none of the employees know how to use it.
Questions you should ask to avoid tool-related mistakes
For a tool such as, for example, a self-service portal á la Zero, to create value, the investment must be secured by addressing the above challenges. Before you buy a new tool, these three questions should be borne in mind.
1. Do the right conditions exist?
Make sure that there is a need for the tool
and that the conditions exist for the tool to be able to satisfy this need.
It's often the case that it's not the tool that's the reason why the business
isn't working as expected. It's just as likely to be the work method that needs
to be developed or that employees need to be trained to use the tools available.
The newcomer to golf needs a golf lesson and more time on the practice hole rather than new clubs.
2. Does the tool solve a problem?
Make sure that the tool is in line with
users' needs. Many companies become fixated on a tool being able to support as
much functionality as possible and being based on advanced technology. Surveys
show that on average approximately 20% of the functionality of IT-related tools
purchased is actually used. The consequence is that many companies pay money
for functionality that is simply never used.
It's more efficient to travel to work through the rush hour on a bike than in a Porsche.
3. Is the investment in the tool realised and managed?
Make sure that the tool and the skills relating to the tool are maintained and managed. It's incredibly common for a tool-related project following the purchase of a tool to focus solely on getting the tool installed - not on the long-term use of the tool. If there's no management of the tool, i.e. making sure that the tool is updated as the business's needs change, and that the employees' skills relating to the tool are kept up to date, the tool will die a long, painful death. Employees can enjoy a nice cup of coffee if they know how to use the espresso machine and if someone is responsible for cleaning and maintaining it.
How can these challenges be addressed in practice? I'll take a look at that in my next blog.