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I have been working with a couple of colleagues on a project to roll out a new database for our office. We had a call with the vendor, and after that, one of my colleagues said she thought her presence had been unnecessary. I was frustrated at that because she will use the system extensively and I want to get input from key people here (both so we have the right information and so people feel like they have been consulted).

At the same time, I do recognize that she did not say much during the call. I certainly don't want to take valuable time away from her other work.

Does anyone have any thoughts on the best way to get both input and buy-in from people but also not waste anyone's time?

rhsanborn's picture

You didn't mention your position at your org, or it's size, so you may need to scale this recommendation a bit. Effective implementation and adoption of IT systems requires the org to change its mindset from "IT happens to us" to "the business adopts IT". Your colleague's response is one symptom of what could be a larger issue. If she's a core user of this app and doesn't think she should have input, then she is likely going to be on the team that says IT screwed everything up if it doesn't go exactly to plan.

Industry best practice is that supplemental projects like this shouldn't happen without a business sponsor (usually executive sponsor, but depends on project size) and that the business provides resources who are the ultimate decision makers when it comes to requirements definition, product selection, etc.

For example, if the org needs a new Time and Attendance system, but the business doesn't put up a non-IT executive sponsor, and give the appropriate resources to do requirements gathering, business process review/testing, and checkout/validation, we stop the project. We have support from senior leadership to do this and they will personally support killing projects if business don't cough up the resources. You obviously can't do that if senior leadership doesn't think it's necessary.

As a first step with your colleague, you can explain to her that these kinds of projects don't work if the core stakeholders aren't involved in the design, build, testing, and checkout. If she doesn't agree, and senior leadership doesn't agree, then IT is building a product and trying to impose it on the org, and that will blow up one day.

GIANT CAREER ASTERISK*** If you don't have the buy-in from the org to do IT/support processes the way I described above, you can't impose them on the org. You can't decide to scuttle projects because business leaders aren't as involved as they should be. Try to influence the org toward adopting that methodology, but if they don't want to get on-board then you need to work the way they insist on working.

I mention IT since that's my background and you mentioned databases, but this applies to any supplemental/support team in an organization. e.g. It would be like building a new construction project without input and validation from the people occupying the space. They're going to hate it and they're going to blame the construction manager for not building it right even though they should have been putting up the resources to make sure it fit their need.

Regards,

Randall