Arun Nithyanandam -

Frequently, CIO’s and primary project sponsors ask a tough question. How do we sell the business (the system) to the business users? These businesspeople have been habituated to the current ecosystem. They are accustomed to doing their tasks in a certain ways. A new system disrupts those patterns. Most likely, people will be resistant to learning new things and modifying their existing behaviors.

We can establish good processes and procedures. We can even implement the best systems, but they are all no good if people don’t embrace the system. Systems must serve the users’ needs.

Launching a major system creates organizational change. Networks must be reconfigured. Applications must successfully pass data. However, new systems often require individual behavior change within people throughout the organization. Some project managers focus solely on systems. They treat people as an afterthought, and then they wonder why people actively resist their grand solution.

A successful project requires buy-in from all of the users—well before you reach the stage of User Acceptance Testing. Early in the project, you must consider how the project will impact people’s daily lives:

• What value does the system add?
• How will user’s roles, responsibilities, and tasks change?
• Who are your champions?
• Who are your evangelists?

Users are not abstract conceptions. They are real people who have their own day-to-day challenges. It’s important to speak with them, learn their world, and become accepted as someone who cares about their community. Wise project managers consider the human aspect of change and quickly establish change management and communication plans as part of the overall project.

Next week on these pages, we cover:
1. Sell Business to Business Users – Part 2: The Design and Execution (where we focus on the nuts and bolts of selling business to business users)

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About the Author

arun_nith_blog.jpgArun Nithyanandam is a Strategy and Management Consultant based in Silicon Valley. Arun has managed multiple multi-million dollar IT projects in US and Europe across verticals. His current focus areas are Enterprise Contract Management Systems (deploying Nextance proposal-to-revenue and source-to-savings solutions to help companies improve financial performance and lower risk) and Enterprise Content Management Systems. Arun works with CIGNEX Technologies, a provider of Open Source based enterprise content management solutions.

During his spare time (if any) Arun enjoys hiking and reading.

Arun is currently working on a book (co-authored with Bill Sherman) code named “Managing Multi-million dollar projects” to be published in 2008.

For the collection of all Arun’s articles, please visit Squidoo Lens Arun Says

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