Teamwork and Community - XLerant

Should you involve your user community in solution development?

When I first moved to Ireland with Pepsi, I brought a lot of New York headquarters ways with me. Some good, some bad. But one of those ways was in how to develop solutions to vexing problems. The foundation of solution development was always the formation of a cross functional team to bring together multiple perspectives and talents. We generated some outstanding solutions that way, with orders of magnitude improvement.

“Oh no, you don’t want do that here” I was advised, “People will just wind up disappointed that their particular recommendation was not acted on. Just think of the best solution you can and that’s what will get done.”

I embraced a lot of local ways when I was in Ireland (my favorite being “your local”… my friends in County Cork will get that) but the idea of developing solutions in isolation and rolling them out was not one of them.

What stops a lot of Finance managers in involving the user community in solution development is exactly the same as what I heard in Ireland. Here are the top 3 perceived risks in involving the user community:

1) They might think that whatever they want, they’ll get – and they’ll be disappointed to learn otherwise.

2) They might pick a solution other than what you think is best.

3) The solution development process might be longer than “if I just did it myself”.

And here’s the risk of not involving them:

1) You fail.

Failure comes in many forms. People refuse to use the new system you just spent a lot of time and money on. People complain that a solution is forced upon them. People complain they were never heard, never given a real chance to provide input. People skip the necessary training, or only attend parts of it. In any case, they have a get-out-of-jail-free card because they don’t really know the new system/ new process.

So how should you involve them? That’s the subject of our next blog.


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