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4 steps for successful IT implementation from a learning perspective

Change is an inevitable part of today's labour market, and the implementation of new IT systems is often a central part of this change process. Despite large projects, many implementations are met with challenges and failures, usually because the users who will use the system are forgotten. Overlooking user needs and experiences can lead to resistance, inefficiency and loss of investment in the change.

Challenges in the implementation process - the human factor critical to success

An implementation project is a complex process that often faces challenges and, to a large extent, does not achieve goals or desired effects. A study carried out by McKinsey & Co presents the disappointing figures that 70% of all major change projects do not reach their goals. The human factor is considered a decisive factor in achieving success. Among other things, the lack of commitment from the users and understanding of the new system are highlighted as lacking factors.

The reasons for a lack of commitment can be multi-faceted, but one reason is that users lack understanding of the purpose and goal of the change, which can lead to uncertainty and resistance. This, in combination with a belief that you don't have the requirements to be introduced into the system, can lead to both stress and frustration.

A lack of, or ineffective, introduction, as well as a lack of continuous user support, naturally results in a lack of knowledge and ineffective use of the system, both during introduction and in the long term.


Another extensive study by McKinsey showed significant differences in how the journey of change was experienced during system implementation. First-line managers and employees for whom the system was intended in day-to-day work felt that the process was significantly less successful compared to the experience of senior managers and management.

The study emphasizes that clear communication and commitment from the entire organization, not just the management, are necessary for successful change journeys.


4 Key steps for successful implementation

With all the experience and statistics behind us, we can state that we need to focus on people in order to achieve results. To both reach the person and give the employee the right conditions, we suggest prioritizing communication and learning strategy as adjacent areas in change management. We have defined four factors that can and should be part of the change management plan.

1. Clear communication about purpose and goals

Clear communication about the purpose and goals of the change is crucial in projects including change. The organisation can create an understanding and motivation by communicating why the change is happening and what goals are to be achieved.

Users absorb information differently, so it is important to plan what type of communication to use, to whom, and via which channel. Combine broad dissemination of information with narrower, role-specific forums to explain better how the change affects employees personally.


2. Mapping of learning needs and inclusion of employees

Identifying users' learning needs is an important part of the implementation process. Map out how today's workflows are affected and conduct a target group analysis to understand what type of learning support is needed for different roles since the change affects managers and employees differently.

Employees from different roles should be involved to ensure the quality of the mapping. This provides valuable insights, encourages participation, and enables validation of relevant support material.


3. Customize learning and accessibility

Often, the employee's only training support is time-consuming classroom training along with heavy PDFs or PowerPoint presentations that are difficult to absorb and can quickly become outdated. Adapted learning and accessibility are crucial to ensure effective implementation and the right conditions for employees.

Each project has different conditions, so an analysis is needed to identify which type of learning is relevant to the situation. Two important pillars to remember, however, are that overall information and critical system knowledge are advantageously given as formal training with the possibility of individual follow-up. In contrast, more detailed knowledge should be shared directly in the employee's workflow if necessary. This saves time and money, and employees don't have to remember detailed information from several months ago.

Formal training can be combined with e-learning and classroom training. One tip is to have basic e-learning to give all users a common base before physical classroom sessions, which can then focus more on discussion and deepening.

When it comes to knowledge with a high-change character, it can be beneficial to share it in a forum where you can ensure that the message gets across and that employees can ask questions. This can be done in a more significant forum or classroom training.

Based on the mapping of changed workflows and identified new knowledge, the following analysis can be done to understand the nature of the knowledge and how the knowledge should best be packaged and shared:

  1. What basic knowledge is needed to understand the change and the system?
  2. What detailed knowledge must be shared directly in the system during task execution?
  3. What critical knowledge do we want to follow up on an individual level?
  4. What type of knowledge involves significant changes that employees may have difficulty understanding and will have questions about?
  5. What knowledge should be deepened and available about the process?

kunskapsrelaterad stress illustration_EN_Rityta 1


4. Plan long term

A long-term perspective is crucial for the successful implementation and use of the system, where users receive support even after the implementation project. This provides increased security for employees, enables continuous changes and the introduction of new users.

Users need to know where to turn for support, for example, via a dedicated portal or direct user support in the system. Also, plan how user support will be managed so that continuous changes are documented, and employees can trust that support is up-to-date and reliable


In Summary

AImplementing new IT systems is challenging but necessary. A successful implementation requires focusing not only on the technology but also on the users who will work with the system. By overlooking users' needs, you risk resistance, inefficiency, and failure.

Following the four steps for a successful implementation will give your organization the support it needs to succeed and ensure that the investment in a new IT system will yield a good return, both in the short and long term

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The Author

At the blog, we share inspiration and knowledge about digital learning and Performance Support, and inspiring cases from our customers.

Feel free to contact the author if you have questions or want to discuss the article.

Axel Österlund InfoCaption

Axel Österlund