An Unused Application is a Useless Application

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Many people, especially IT people, when they work on a project to introduce a new application into their organization get so focused on the details of what it takes to select, purchase, install, configure, migrate data, etc. to put the application in place, they forget about a critical piece of the puzzle, user training.

I’m not saying IT staff should be responsible for user training (which happens), but the organization as a whole and the project manager should ensure that it is in the project plan. I’m not even passing judgement as to how much user training should be done as it really depends on the situation. This training could easily be scheduled while the application is being put in place, possibly using a vendor’s demonstration instance.

In several situations i have seen functional decisions being made during the configuration process. Hopefully the functional users are included in that process and, ideally, they are fully up to speed with the application on what it can/can’t do and how it fits into their workflow at that time.

Being an IT person I’ve seen the opposite of the ideal situation, an application is set up and then the functional users are engaged. One of two things happens at that point, either the project timeline gets pushed back significantly or it becomes a useless application because the functional users didn’t realize they would have to do a bunch of work. Successful project engage the functional users early on in the process and set everyone’s expectations of what is required of them.