Trent Parkhill
Guest Blogger

The third impediment to technology adoption is that adoption is hindered when the new system does not address an important need or the initial implementation is not sufficiently tailored to the business to be compelling. While these impediments apply to implementation of all new technologies, let’s use an enterprise search project to illustrate the point.

Addressing an Important Need

While having an IS project that can solve many important needs is not sufficient to get user adoption, it is necessary. In order to justify the time to learn a new system and the energy to break old habits, the new system must be solving needs that the intended users consider very important. And the value must exceed the learning time and the time involved in using the new system.

As mentioned in previous blog posts, enterprise search 2.0 (ES2.0) has a great advantage over most IS projects, in that a well implemented ES2.0 project delivers answers to user questions, without requiring them to do work or to change how they work. This results in a dramatic change in the value/work ratio users experience and sets the project up for a likely successful deployment.

Tailoring a Compelling Initial Implementation

As the saying goes “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” In order for people to change their practices and adopt a new information system they need to have several very compelling initial experiences with that system. If we consider an enterprise search implementation, this means that people need to find what they are looking for in their initial attempts with search. This kind of success may not be possible if the initial search implementation has been scaled back, and the information they are looking for has not been indexed by the search engine.

While it is often tempting, for budget, schedule or cost reasons, to roll out an initial enterprise search deployment with only part of the project completed or some of the sources included, it is best to wait until the initial roll out will be impressive. Start with a broad and compelling implementation of search; that is, cover all sources and all locations, and consider injecting database information into the index to create more uses and more value.

Many may think that all you have to do is to explain to your users that the initial implementation is limited and tell them which sources are included. However, users tend not to remember the details of what we say, nor do they often know where the information they are looking for is stored. And if users do not find the information they are looking for in their first few searches, they may conclude that search is ineffective and give up on it. Then if you later add more sources to search, you may have a very tough time getting users to give search a second look. Gradualism, in this kind of project, can be fatal.

Have you experienced information system deployments that underperformed because they did not address an important need or because the initial implementation was not sufficiently tailored to the business?

About Trent Parkhill

Trent Parkhill has more than 30 years of engineering and IT experience and consults with organizations in the engineering and professional services market on best practices in enterprise search 2.0. A former engineering consultant and Director of IT, Parkhill was named to InfoWorld’s CTO 25, the publication’s annual list of senior IT executives who demonstrate leadership within their companies and the IT community. For the past 25 years, Parkhill has managed information systems development in a variety of positions at Haley & Aldrich (H&A), a leading science and engineering firm.

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