The Human Element of Contract Management Software Implementation
Many enterprises implement new technology with unrealistic expectations, erroneously thinking it will immediately and automatically lead to increased profit, says Henry Hornstein, who teaches HR development and organizational behavior at Algoma University in Canada.
In a recent article in the Ivey Business Journal, Hornstein acknowledges that new technology is easily perceived as “sexy.”
“Nonetheless, much of the recent academic research has shown that it is not the ‘hard’ technology acquisitions by themselves that guide organizational success, but the integration of these assets into organizational change management processes that elevate the importance of the human system,” Hornstein says. “It is the integration that really makes the difference.”
As enterprises consider implementing contract management software — whether it’s an in-house system or SaaS — it is crucial to pay attention to this human integration.
The Full Benefits Will Never Be Realized Without Buy-In
Without buy-in, enterprises can still gain some advantage from contract management software, but to gain the maximum ROI, it takes human willingness and commitment to use the software’s features to full advantage. One of the surest ways to gain buy-in is to include every stakeholder in brainstorming about how the contract management process can be improved using the software. By including everyone who will be affected — and who will have a role in successful implementation — everyone feels like they’re part of the change, rather than simply the recipients of a top-down decision.
An additional benefit is that this brainstorming will identify legitimate issues — often related to human processes — that need to be addressed before implementation. Seeking input from all stakeholders about how to best utilize contract management software isn’t just an internal PR move by management — it’s a highly effective method of beginning to formulate an implementation plan that will work given the specific circumstances of the enterprise.
Change Shouldn’t Be Rushed
Even when there is sufficient buy-in and all stakeholders have contributed to implementation planning, enterprises can easily overwhelmed with people problems if they try to implement contract management software enterprise-wide all at once. Pilot implementations confined to one business unit are often a wise course — allowing kinks in the system to be worked out, internal best practice to emerge, and metrics to be developed and tested, all before full implementation.
As the implementation proceeds — perhaps first in a pilot but then enterprise-wide — it is also useful to break down the implementation into stages as much as possible. People do best when they’re not flooded with change all at once. By introducing different functionalities at different stages, employees have time to adjust at a comfortable pace — which will lead to higher adoption rates and help employees be more satisfied with the change.
Change Shouldn’t Be Delayed
As much as rushing the change can create human performance problems and foster employee dissatisfaction, taking too long to implement contract management software can also have a negative effect on the implementation’s success. It’s simply human nature to lose confidence in a change that stutters and starts and stutters again. It’s difficult to be optimistic and excited when a change keeps getting put off, for whatever reason
Therefore, firm implementation schedules should be developed and adhered to as much as possible. And, while pilot programs and phased-in implementation help employees ease into the change, they shouldn’t be overlong, or else the employee’s focus on the change will be diminished, resulting in less-than-ideal implementation.
Contract management software will never achieve its full potential if the human element is not integrated into the implementation plan.