Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Are You At Risk for “Shiny Object Syndrome?”

As a SaaS implementation consultant, a lot of people come to me confused about why their software doesn’t do “a certain thing” correctly when they need it to. They have innovative plans and excellent communication inside their teams, and yet they are not experiencing optimal success with their technology. How can these companies be doing the right things but still experience frustration with their technology?

The reason is that although they're looking to the technology to support their processes, they fail to see the reality of interdependency between their process and the technology. I call this “shiny object syndrome.”

Symptoms of shiny object syndrome may include:

  • high opportunity loss costs 
  • wasted time in program administration
  • limited transparency into progress 
  • restricted scalability
  • cyclical “redo” efforts to get the process right
Sound familiar to you?

Success comes to Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors when they understand the pains of their niche market clients, and develop ways to create value around decreasing those pains. They do this by creating SaaS products that begin to address the issues of the market, much like a community builds a hospital in order to address the health needs of local residents.

I frequently work with clients where the “treatment” doesn’t involve buying more technology at all, but rather facilitating internal changes. Making sure you have a good change management strategy in place before and as you implement your technology is crucial to the success of your initiative. That’s ultimately why consulting services are almost a prerequisite when it comes to buying SaaS technology to run talent development initiatives, outplacement services, or alumni programs.

You might be thinking that this is an awfully lot of planning for the software implementation side of things. You’ve implemented new software office-wide before, so why all this fuss? Well, chances are that that software wasn’t used to architecturally run or support large organization-wide initiatives.

On the other hand, SaaS for HR most certainly is used to architecturally run and support large organization-wide initiatives, and the process of SaaS implementation for this purpose should be treated as seriously by HR and leadership as your actual initiative.

That being said, it would be presumptuous to expect a software vendor to have already predicted an organization’s detailed processes and exact data needs.  The existence of a hospital really doesn’t do very much to provide medical services.  No matter how sophisticated the hospital’s equipment is, none of it has value without a doctor to decide which ones will help your particular ailment. Much in the way patients rely on doctors for advice, a SaaS vendor should be expected to pull from their deep industry expertise to advise you on how your processes can best be supported by their systems.

This is part I of a four-part series. 

Part II: No Change Management Strategy Around Your Talent Management SaaS?
Part III: SaaS for Talent Development ≠ Your Talent Development Process
Part IV: If You Build It, They Won't Necessarily Come

Video: Kim details Shiny Object Syndrome

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