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Integrating And Implementing Technology: Full versus Progressive Integration
By David Goldsmith   Printer Friendly Version

It's a love hate relationship. People love what technology can do for them, but they hate the actual processes of converting and initially implementing that technology.

Here are 2 tactics from which to choose when instituting new initiatives:

1. Full integration
2. Progressive integration

Full integration is an all-at-once approach. Usually this involves communicating to staff that "this is now how we do it." If a company must put in the new banking system, inventory system, office automation tool or accounting system, the team instituting the program must address three key areas when offering a full integration method of implementation. The three key areas are (1) training, (2) benchmarks and (3) reports. The reason why full integration can be unsuccessful is because one or all of these three areas have not been properly employed. When technology is being introduced, fear within the ranks leads to resistance and/or disorganization. (1) Allot ample time for training and provide the best training method for the type of technology you've chosen. (2) Set up a benchmark system that corresponds to a schedule. For example, by x(date), we will have completed x, y and z. (3) Obtain necessary reports from the system, from the trainers (if applicable) an from the staff using the technology. Timely reports will alert you to any problems early on so that minor problems are addressed before they become major.

Progressive integration is a "some now, some later" approach. Recently, a sales manager wanted his 5 person staff to use Goldmine Software more often so that he could obtain stats and use the stats to better manage the force. He initially wanted to use full integration with his staff, and he planned to have a trainer come in for a day to educate the salespeople. However, his sales staff wanted to sell, not to learn a new software program. The resolution was progressive integration. In stage 1, the manager will only require that the staff keep the data base current with name, contact and sorting/filtering information. This will take a minute or two per contact. The staff will not initially use the entire program, but will enter phone call notes from incoming and outgoing calls into the system. They will also note, using a drop down menu, whether a call was successful or not. In this case, the sales manager will get his first stages of information: number of calls, numbers of contacts, etc., which will be enough to start assisting his staff.

Stage two will involve the institution of other basic functions to the most successful and most eager-to-learn staff members. By using the progressive integration approach, the manager has limited training costs and transmitted to his staff what's expected without rocking the boat. As new members join the team, the same approach will be taken so that the new-hire will be productive immediately. Existing staff will retain the ability to use the system properly, and the manager will receive more accurate, qualitative information about his team's performance. Ultimately the corporate culture will change and the process of using the technology will be common place.

David & Lorrie Goldsmith are founders of the Syracuse based MetaMatrix Consulting Group Inc. Their firm specializes in consulting and speaking services. They can be reached at 315-476-0510 888-777-8857 or emailed at dgoldsmith@davidgoldsmith.com

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