Information technology has made great strides in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of how information is organized, stored, processed, and shared in today’s organizations. With the vast amount of information available at the touch of a button, there are several human aspects that should be considered when implementing and maintaining an information management system. It can be a very difficult task for information managers to find the right combination of technology, access to information, and security to match the needs and information culture of the entire organization. Information managers must begin by thinking about how people use information, not how people use machines (Davenport 1994). It shouldn’t be assumed that once the right technology is in place, suitable information sharing will follow. Human nature can have a great deal of influence, good and bad, on how effective an IT system can be. With the enormous amount of information being exchanged, it is not possible to account for all of the unforeseen consequences of the expansion of information in use by today’s companies. Using computers to help individuals perform their jobs and tasks is one of the most important actions taken when implementing technology effectively. However, sometimes the result of this intervention is not successful at all and may even generate difficulties related to people participation in this process (De Souza Dias 1998). This paper will discuss a few of the human variables involved in the information technology equation. The first section of this paper will deal with senior management’s lack of understanding of the implementation process. The discussion will also include the characteristics of the IT professional. In the final section, training the end user will be discussed.
Technology initiatives do not go wrong only because of the idiosyncrasies of users and IT professionals; the behavior of upper management often has something to do with it. There are several ways in which senior management can inadvertently contribute to the failure of a project from the start, these include: •
The expectation of perfection—Many managers are demanding and demand that things are done right the first time. These normally valuable traits can be somewhat disruptive if communication is inhibited. Any IT rollout can present challenges and uncertainty. Precise plans can’t always be formulated and carried out flawlessly in regards to these projects. •
Unclear instructions—It is a common trait for people to overanalyze things said by those above them in the hierarchy. When statements made by senior management are brief and ambiguous, they can be easily misunderstood. •
Too grand a mandate—Senior management gets paid to think big. This can lead to IT projects that attempt to reach too far. •
Oversimplification—Too often senior management does not have the time or inclination to understand the details involved in an IT project and are unwilling to trust the judgment of those who do. •
Refusal to make tradeoffs—Only management can make the difficult tradeoff choices that always need to be made. Those who fail to do so typically fall short of the IT goals. •
Presentation style—The culture of many organizations calls for these presentations to be simple, concise, unambiguous, and delivered with great confidence. No one benefits if the project team pretends that the plan being presented is certain to succeed. Dong, Neufield, & Higgins (2009) state:
Despite the general consensus regarding the critical role of top management in the
information systems (ISs) implementation process, the literature has not yet provided a
clear and compelling understanding of the top management support (TMS)
concept (p.55). Only when upper management has a firm grasp on the intricacies and detail involved in an IT program can they fully appreciate the flexibility, experience, and resources required to successfully implement and...
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