Common sense?

I sent a message to someone today using Gmail and received the following automated response:

“Note: This Return Receipt only acknowledges that the message was displayed on the recipient’s computer. There is no guarantee that the recipient has read or understood the message contents.”

Does Google need to add such a disclaimer?  Have we become so accustomed to automated tools that common sense is no longer relevant?  If that is the case and we take technology for granted in our daily lives, why don’t we put as much faith in our business solutions?

Have you ever said “yes, I know you see it in the XYZ system, but that isn’t really true and accurate because …”?  There are lots of reasons why this is the case, oftentimes it is simply because the accounting and project management systems, for example, don’t share information (i.e. lack of system integration).  When this occurs, it also generally means that an individual must go into both systems to make sure that there is a manual reconciliation. 

That type of process works if your organization is very small or has few transactions; what happens when you have hundreds or thousands of transactions to account for?  Data entry errors are frequently introduced into the process at this point.  If data is manually entered or reconciled, how quickly is the latest financial information available?  This is a case where automation, implemented correctly, would greatly improve your employee’s confidence in the data and your systems. 

Note that I said when implemented correctly – when rolling out a system integration, it is vital to link the correct data tables and fields, otherwise the first time an employee finds a discrepancy, you lose their trust and will have to fight to get it back, if that is even possible.  Sure this is common sense; however, it isn’t standard practice.  Is this because of some diabolical IT plan for your group to fail?  Of course not, in fact, the complete opposite!  That said, integrations are tricky and without support from both the business users and IT, the project is doomed to endless iterations and eroded confidence.

To combat this, a few simple things can help – the two most important? 

  1. Communicate – if folks feel like they know what is going on through regular milestone updates then they will be more likely to trust the decisions, process, and results
  2. Build a relationship with your end-users (aka employees)  – when employees are involved in planning (think: representative sample), they rightly feel as though they had a voice in the changes being made and will have more faith in what is delivered, even if edits are needed along the way

What have you experienced in your organizations?  How have you succeeded; where have projects failed?  Do your users have faith in your technology solutions?

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