Out with the Old, In with the New!

old and newIn my professional life, I have attended a number of summits and conferences related to software. I remember that at one of these, a number of top company principals and CEOs held an analyst panel. During their question-and-answer session they talked about how companies that buy new software systems don’t want just new software–they want new business processes.

This struck me because, while the decision-makers at the top of a company may indeed want new business processes, the staff with whom our implementers work often do not.

I and other implementers share stories: We start asking questions to determine how to best set up a new client’s Spitfire Project Management System and get many questions in return along the lines of “How can we have things work exactly like we are used to?” and “This is how we do things. Can you make this new system do it just like that?”

Let’s face it: many people hate change. They are used to doing their work in a certain way and don’t want to have to learn new workflows. So, of course, they are going to want to hear “yes, even though the system is different and will save you time, you will get to do your work pretty much as before.” Except that in order to take full advantage of a new system, changes are likely to be needed.

I believe (and those CEOs would agree) that we who know our software system very well have the obligation to educate new clients on why they need to let go of the past. Our implementers know better business processes that could truly simplify workflows and reduce the time spent on certain tasks. When new clients say, “I want the system to do A, B and C” the question to always ask is, “Why? What is the end goal?” That conversation might lead to “Ah, let me show you a better, easier way to get to that end goal.”

If a new system is being implemented at your company, insist on learning the best way to use the system and be willing to throw out how you’ve done things in the past. Good implementers try hard to show you a better way. Clashing with them because of a reluctance to change only hurts you in the long run. Just remember that the boss almost certainly wants new and better business processes to be used–that’s why he invested in new software in the first place!