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There is one challenge that troubles all our technology partners, regardless of their product or solution: the implementation phase. The moment when their technology will prove its impact and use to the client. The moment that can determine the success or failure of the entire project. And no matter how well the product or solution is designed, or how well they prepared in previous stages, there always seem to be issues in the implementation phase. Their product does not show the usage data it is supposed to. The solution does not hit the set impact targets. Implementation takes much longer than originally scheduled because deadlines keep on getting postponed. Negative feelings are being voiced about colleagues, counterparts, the product or the company in general. Why does the implementation phase pose such a challenge to technology providers?

Whether you are full-time employed, or an independent agent, if you manage technology transformation projects within companies, you might have the answer to this question: it is the people. Most issues experienced during the implementation phase of a technology project can be traced back to people problems. In 2019, McKinsey estimated that around 70% of all digital transformation efforts fail, mostly due to employee resistance and other people issues.

When we talk about people being the issue, we have to acknowledge that there are people involved in the project on two sides: the client and the provider. As a provider, it is always important to take a critical look at your own people first: Are they skilled enough to support your clients with all their needs? Many technology companies have people that are amazing with hard skills and have an incredible level of technological knowledge – but when it comes to communicating issues with the client, there tends to be a lack of soft skills. And the impact this has on the overall success of the project is often underestimated. It is important that your team is able to understand the implementation phase from the outside-in. That they know how their technology is disrupting the way of working for the individual. That they can anticipate the specific needs of the people along the adoption curve and acting accordingly – by informing and explaining, by respecting all types of initial reactions, by emphasizing with the emotions of the client, by coaching, and by showing that the new way works. Is your current team able to do all of that?

Many of the issues connected to the implementation process, however, lie with the people on the client side. As a technology provider or independent transformation manager, you can have the best technology, the best strategy or the most skilled colleagues – if the people of your client are not on board, they can ruin the entire project. But they can also make it the biggest success ever, if you know how to turn their initial resistance against change to proactive support of your solution. Most resistance stems from one of three sources.

  1. A lack of understanding: It is possible that the digital transformation efforts do not make sense to the people of the organization. This is usually the case when leadership forgets to communicate repeatedly the goals and digital transformation efforts of the organization. When people do not understand the ‘why’ of the transformation, the big picture, and – most importantly – what it means for them, fear starts to form… and if people fear the change, they will resist to it. This is why McKinsey found that ‘management team established a clear change story for transformation’ is the number one success factor within digital transformation.
  1. A lack of (soft) skills: A second reason why people might resist to digital transformation efforts of their organization is because they are missing the necessary skills to work successfully in the new way. Most people connect ‘missing skills’ within digital transformation with technology skills. They are of course vital: if a new tool is introduced, people should have the skills to work with that tool. But they should also have the skills to leverage the tool. This means that they should know how the tool changes their way of working and how they can work most efficiently with it. This also requires a different set of soft and people skills, which is often underestimated.
  1. A fixed mindset: It is a natural and evolutionary reflex to say no to new, unknown changes that could pose possible threats. However, valuing past experiences over current and future opportunities by closing oneself off to change is signalling a fixed mindset that is likely to stagnate any progress within the organization. Instead, it is important to nurture a so-called growth mindset, where people proactively search for and try out new opportunities, without letting fear of failure or the prospect of the comfortable old ways holding them back.

If you address these three issues and invest in the people involved in the change process, instead of focusing on a perfectly working technology product only, you will not only make the implementation phase less stressful, but will also boost the impact of your solution or product as a whole.


Are you managing digital transformation projects and are experiencing similar issues during the implementation phase? Connect with us to discuss possible partnership opportunities:

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