August 2011: Your Tech Implementation – Home Improvement Style
Get a new take on technology implementation from my lessons learned on a recent home improvement project!
Allow me to paint you a picture – my husband and I just bought our first home – a house of new construction with brand new carpet, hardwood, vinyl, and tile throughout. But we wanted something slightly different; before moving in we wanted to re-do the floors. Instead, we wanted to use the concrete slab underneath as our flooring by dying it a beautiful cinnamon color. As soon as we had the keys, we couldn’t wait to get started and jumped right into our project.
We anticipated the project would require 4 steps:
- taking up the existing flooring
- prepping the walls
- cleaning the concrete
- dying the concrete
Sounds simple, right? But this “simple” project taught us valuable lessons about the difference between theory and application. Through this experience, we unexpectedly encountered lessons about planning, budgeting, teamwork, compromising, and decision making; all lessons that apply to every project – including a technology implementation project.
Here are our top 5 lessons learned:
1. A successful outcome is dependent on excellent prep work.
To prepare for the two days it took to actually dye the floors, it took us one month – yes you read that right – one month. Our biggest obstacle was a thick line of paint at the perimeter of every room that needed to be scraped off the concrete. We knew if we didn’t get all the paint off, the concrete would not properly absorb the dye giving us a sub-par finish. Since this floor would be with us for years, sub-par was not an option.
Tech Application: When considering a new technology, your essential prep-work includes an analysis of the current state and desired future state, i.e. your roadmap. Consider how the current state is working now and where you would make changes. For your project, research your options in obtaining your requirements and investigate what others have done, consider the preferences of your stakeholders, and identify the “must-haves”. When you know the essential requirements, you can make decisions to support your desired future state and it makes the probability of a successful outcome much greater.
2. A quick fix is just that – a “quick” “fix”. Think long-term solution.
Taking paint off anything is frustrating, but on a porous surface like concrete, it curls up in the nooks and crannies and makes itself at home. We tried fancy products and machines – all things that promised to take the paint up quick and easy. But you know what eventually worked? A wire brush and lots of elbow grease – things we had all along. Now that all the paint is gone, it’s much easier to look back and say that was the best decision because ultimately it was the only option that supported our future state of having beautiful concrete floors. Though it required more work to prepare the floors thoroughly, long term the floors will be much more satisfying.
Tech Application: A promise of quality delivered quickly doesn’t guarantee the solution will get you to your desired future state. If you want a quality solution, the “devil is in the details” and you might have to compromise on how quickly it can get done. If speed is more important to you, then be willing to accept imperfections and unmet needs – and more work on the back end as problems surface. Keep in mind you might already have the tools you need to achieve the solution you want, it just might take a little elbow grease to re-organize or re-structure the current state.
3. Do plan, because what can go wrong probably will.
Our home improvement plan included materials, budget, renting equipment, food, and time. However, one example of how we could have planned better was the number of times we had to drive to the local home improvement store. By taking the time to review and consolidate the shopping list to consider all the materials we might need in advance, we could have saved ourselves a lot of time and gas by ensuring we had everything we needed in advance.
Tech Application: The plan is the result of your current and future state analysis. What are the steps required to achieve your end goal? A good plan is essential to keep you and your team on track for your technology implementation. Do you know what you need and the resources it will take to accomplish the next step? And plans change, so allow room for a detour if you discover a better path or a new wrinkle along the way. As long as you have a detailed road map and know where you want to end up, the success will follow.
4. You need your team, be assertive and respectful and know when to compromise.
This project proved to be an excellent testament to “let your team members demonstrate their expertise”. My husband knows his way around home improvement and because of that I served as his trusty assistant. My strengths showed through in being able to talk through the process and assess our progress, consider design options by incorporating both of our needs, and cooking a mean Subway sandwich. While we didn’t agree on everything, we worked together to find a middle-ground so both of us were satisfied with the end result.
Tech Application: Disagreements are inevitable in any project; arguments, however, are 100% avoidable. The key is to disagree with the end in mind. Disagree with an idea because it deviates from the desired future state and suggest a change to get it back on course. Ask questions to better understand where your teammates are coming from and maybe they have experienced something you haven’t and can bring in a new perspective. Compromise, because even though we each have our likes and dislikes, the final solution is a “one size fits all.” At the end of the day, everyone’s name is on the project so give your teammates the opportunity to shine as well.
5. Although the project may be done, regular maintenance is essential.
Part of our decision to go with the concrete floor was based on its easy maintenance and long-lasting capabilities. We were willing to spend the time and money for the long term, low-maintenance option. But low-maintenance doesn’t mean no-maintenance, and we must be mindful to take proper care of the floors so we can actually realize the long term benefits.
Tech Application: With your new technology – once you’ve decided on the best option, you also need to consider the maintenance necessary to maintain the new current state. Are upgrades free or for a cost? What kind of support do you have if you experience trouble? How long will this new technology support the needs of the organization?
With every project, there are things you know, things you think you know, and things you are sure you don’t know. Before you are deep into your commitment of the solution, take the time to discover the details of each of those three categories and prepare for them. The extra time you spend in preparation, planning, and execution will result in a solution that should last for years.
Heather Maria Kubik
Heather is the Assistant Business Manager at HR Logistics. Click here to read her bio.
This article was posted in HRL’s August 2011 Newsletter.
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