Choose technology that fits your team

Are you buying software with your team’s experience in mind? They may not think so

Kieran Snyder
Oct 18, 2018 · 4 min read

Earlier today, PwC released some new research on the effect of technology and digitization on employee experience: Our status with tech at work: It’s complicated. The report says that leaders believe they’re choosing technology with people’s experience in mind, but their teams don’t agree.

While top leaders are keen to upgrade their organization’s technology, increasingly betting that AI is the future, PwC reports that only 68% of people in non-executive roles think that their team’s tech choices are working. Their top complaint, according to the research? Tech that wasn’t designed with them in mind; it’s taking them away from critical human interactions at work, and it isn’t particularly usable.

Most leaders try to make informed technology decisions, but the reality is that a new technology may be rolled out to thousands of people within an organization. It often just isn’t practical to get feedback from all of them.

If you’re making a big purchase decision on behalf of your organization, how can you be sure that you’re making the right one? As the PwC research shows, it starts with the way the technology sets up the people in your organization for greater engagement with their day-to-day jobs.

Here are three questions you can ask to help you evaluate that big ticket technology investment.

Who is going to use this technology, and what problem is it solving?

New or old, big purchase decisions need to start with the basics.

It’s easy to feel that your organization is falling behind if you’re not current on your technology investments. And the reality is, if you feel this way, you’re probably right. Forward-thinking companies are aggressively implementing learning loop products all across their businesses. If you’re not one of them, your competition is out-hiring, out-selling, out-marketing, and all around out-performing you.

However, not every snazzy new product that glitters is gold. Instead of starting by trying to guess the technology that you think you need, start with a clear statement of the problem you have: how is your current operational system failing you?

Are you losing talent you want to hire and retain? Does your whole company look the same? Is your team spending the majority of their time on manual tasks that don’t create a lot of value for your business? Is your forecast always wrong?

Identifying your top operational problems is where any technology purchase decision ought to start. It’s also critical to validate your assumptions with the people on your team, since they’re the ones whose challenges you are trying to help with. They know their landscape better than you do.

What does success look like?

Once you’ve worked with your team to identify top bottlenecks and business challenges, the next step is defining what success looks like with that same group. If there’s a metric you want to hit, state it directly. Want to fill jobs two weeks faster? Say so. Aiming to build a leadership team that is gender-balanced by next year? Say so. Out loud, together.

The more clearly your team can outline what success looks like, the easier it will be for you to evaluate potential solutions. It’s vital that you ask your team to lead. If you want to promote better employee engagement, you have to start by engaging employees. This means that the team leads in defining both the problem statement and the vision for success. In this work, you are just part of the team.

If you’re considering learning loop software based on AI or machine learning, you’ll notice that more and more vendors are promising real statistical ROI to their customers. This is great, and a sign that the industry is progressing. But this is only useful if the results they’re promising line up with the definition of success that your team has created.

You wouldn’t buy a new pair of shoes because you’re hungry. Don’t buy software that doesn’t solve a key problem that your team is facing just because it sounds cool.

Who needs to buy in?

The PwC research shows that middle managers feel overwhelmed by the pace of change. Even though teams are willing to work hard to learn new technologies, they need proper training and support. They also need to believe the technology was designed with them in mind in order to buy in and use it.

If you’re making a big purchase decision that will impact thousands of people, it’s not practical to include all of them in the decision directly. But it is important that you include a representative sample of people across different job functions who will need to buy in for your tech investment to succeed.

People are more likely to buy in when they’ve been part of the process from the beginning — that’s why you need your team when you’re identifying your top problems and defining what success looks like. You also need them when you’re evaluating potential tech investments in the space.

Technologies for the modern workplace touch people in many roles and departments, especially the broad technologies that define the fabric of your organization and how it feels to work there. Make sure you pinpoint the group whose buy-in you need in order to make your deployment successful — the wider the range of perspectives and roles and the sooner they buy in, the better.

Check out the full PwC report here.

Textio Blog

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Kieran Snyder

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Textio Blog

Writing about the future of writing

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