In the rush to cloud and digital business, some companies are forgetting to take along the very people who keep operations running, the end users.
One of the early cloud trends was so-called “rogue IT” departments and individuals which bypassed corporate IT and internal controls and contracted cloud services on their own. For several years, this was considered one of the biggest reasons that IT had to change and adapt to the needs of the business, rather than the other way around. For once, the business was in the driver’s seat – they no longer had to wait for a slow, bureaucratic and often distant IT structure to respond to their needs.
After a panicked interval, IT for the most part adapted to this new power structure, realizing for the first time that its base value proposition was in danger. The result, as seen in digital business transformation, has been the fast and cooperative rollouts of services and software to end users. Business needs now outweigh IT’s predilection for homogeny. The startup and cloud motto of “fail fast” has become more common even in older, more staid enterprises. For the most part, this has been a positive transition.
Pace of change leaves some end users behind
Faster deployments and more cooperation between IT and the business meant the pace of change could be increased. But it left a critical third interested group behind – the very people who use the IT’s software and systems to execute the business’s tasks, collectively known as “end users”.
In the past, IT had included end users in something called User Acceptance Testing, or UAT. This was essentially the process of bringing those that had to use these systems to do their jobs into the project workflow. This ensured that the project considered the entire workflow and experience. End users know more about the nitty-gritty of the day-to-day use of a software or system than IT or business management ever will. Additionally, the inclusion of end users meant better and faster adoption of new systems, as end users felt they were considered and part of the process.
The lack of or de-emphasis on end user acceptance and participation in digital business projects creates tools and processes that need to be revisited again and again. Fail fast is one thing – fail foolishly is another. What companies need to do now as they press the accelerator on digital business is re-instate or bolster inclusion of the end user into the process. The insights gained and mistakes avoided early on are worth the slight slowing of projects. In worst case scenarios, it can avoid project failure or redesign. Bring the users back into the fold. Learn from them how they use their existing systems. They are a wealth of knowledge and can make digital business projects better for everyone.