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Training

Training is often treated as a stepchild of an information system implementation process. "It is surprising that companies spend millions of dollars on hardware and software, but assume that the system will work by itself," says Dave Piotrowski, an executive with an e-business company. They assume that if the system is implemented well, the users will learn how to use it. On the contrary, many systems that fail within a few weeks of implementation do so because few people know how to use it. Organizations should identify users, schedule trainers, determine location, and conduct training as part of the project plan. Training should utilize actual data and business scenarios and coincide with users' ability to put training into practice immediately upon returning to their jobs. Organizations should utilize consulting resources for training and knowledge transfer. Often, outside consultants depart after a "successful" implementation and leave the system to the users who are not equipped to carry out daily business activities using the new system, let alone troubleshoot any problems that might arise.

In this chapter, we have outlined what we believe are "critical" contributors for many IT implementation failures and juxtaposed them with examples of businesses that we have observed in the last 2 years that were exposed to these factors. At this point, it may also be useful to rethink the implicit assumptions of the productivity paradox debate. What about those cases in which there is no financial payoff from IT? Are we right in labeling these as failures? The IT investment objectives of a firm can be defensive, such as to protect market share or to avoid legal exposure. For example, the recent reductions in revenue in the healthcare industry have brought significant new investment in IT. Given the competitive marketplace and shrinking reimbursement for services, many healthcare organizations will consider IT payoff as positive if their losses are curtailed. We see a similar challenge to reach a financial break-even point in the U.S. steel industry due to falling prices in the world market and not necessarily due to any failure of technology. Similarly, technology investment as protection from a potential loss can also lead to an ostensible lack of IT payoff. A recent example of IT investment for legal protection is the Year 2000 (Y2K) project. The Y2K investment added very little to the firms' competitiveness but protected them from potential legal exposure. There is also evidence that IT may not always lead to improved profitability, rather, it may manifest itself in improved efficiency or consumer value.9 Therefore, many situations on the surface might appear to lack payoff, however, by delving deeper we may realize that the payoff was in another area, or maybe just the fact that the business survived while much of the competition fell on the wayside. Also, on many occasions, there might not have been a benefit to the organization but benefits may have been passed on to the customer. These are all cases where really there was a payoff from IT.

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