Sidewalk: An electronic whitebaord and system implementation projects

Recently, we had an internal workshop to discuss the project plan for our start-up insurance venture in India. The facilitator of our workshop, who was coming from our overseas office requested an electronic whiteboard for the workshop. We procured the board and ensured that the board was installed at the site of the workshop on the previous evening. Hoping to impress our guest that in India things do work as planned, I reached the site on the day of workshop well ahead of our schedule. And guess what happened? The board we had procured was an interactive board, far more complex than the simple electronic board our guest had asked for. He was impressed with the features and functionality of the board, but sadly, it was too complex for him to use. Neither, any of us who procured the board nor those who were present in the workshop were trained to use the board. As a result, the board was hardly utilised during the workshop for the purpose that it was initially envisaged for.

Sounds familiar? I could not help but draw analogy between our board story and IT system implementation projects. This is what happens in a typical IT system implementation project. Due to urgency of the need or shortage of time, neither users not IT spend adequate time in requirement analysis. Then the software is developed / procured / implemented in a hurry without taking proper sign-offs, with incomplete testing and with even more inadequate end user training. End result: Users reject the system and the project fails to achieve its desired impact!

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