Ramping Up the Use of the Product
When it comes to revving up the deployment of a particular product, here are seven suggestions for introducing the product and gaining its acceptance and use:
- Make the new product readily available. People find new things threatening, especially if they have not chosen them themselves. So give people the option to try it and ask them how they find it. Note, don't ask them what they think of it because that invites them to search for all the possible things that could be wrong, largely based on what they have been used to previously.
- Try out the product on a project. If appropriate, try out the new product on a project, or even on a trial basis, where it can come under close scrutiny and prove its usefulness.
- Get product usage. Get the new product used by an increasing number of people supported by appropriate training. The idea is to move the product through the learning curve stages of "interesting" to "familiar" to "essential".
- Demonstrate saving in effort. Show how the new product saves effort, makes work easier, or provides other advantages compared to the existing products. Be careful to avoid talking about saving time. In many people's minds that's "code" for saving people which translates into loss of jobs.
- Roll out. Once the use of the product has been validated under working conditions, plan a rollout or cutover. People naturally tend to resist change but if they can all move together, they will be less fearful.
- Training and support. Continue training and support until the product is well established and fully integrated.
- Give credit. Once the product is generally accepted, give credit to those responsible for creating the product and extol the benefits of the product to the organization.
Who Should Pay?
The question of who should pay for the cost of the effort involved in the transfer of the care, custody and control of the product to the users as described above is sometimes a contentious issue. From an overall corporate perspective, it is all a part of the original investment. After all, the asset is not viable until it is fully integrated and fully productive, and the full benefits begin to flow.
A useful rule of thumb is that "Any cost that would not have been incurred had it not been for the launch of this project, should be considered as a part of the investment in the product". Hence the project should pay.
However, both the project management people and the operations people will be involved and some of the costs will fall to each side. If all of the costs, including those of the operations people, are carried by the project budget, then there is the feeling that Operations are getting a free ride. Conversely, if Operations carry all of the costs described in the previous section, they will inevitably cut back on some essential activities that they may be unwilling to recognize, such as training, coaching and selling.
The best approach is for you to establish a split budget to which both project management and Operations management can charge and be held accountable to cover their respective activities from the list shown above. Since you have established this transition as a distinct phase, the phase should be planned to involve the appropriate stakeholders just like all the other project phases.
In Part 8 we will provide more tips on Step 10.