Failed Implementation Sunk-cost and The Big Game

So yesterday I gave you some reasons why your software implementation failed.

Did anything jump out at you? Nothing?

Well, what if the software wasn’t the right fit? How do you know? Dig-in immediately and find out.

If you purchased an integrated solution, whether it’s cloud-based or you’re hosting it on your own server, you have made an investment. The sunk-cost effect is the biggest reason we stay in a bad relationship.

And since we’re going into Super Bowl® weekend, I can use this lovely analogy found in the New Yorker about Mark Sanchez, who has been retained by the New York Jets for another year at a cool $8.25 million. Yep, played poorly for two seasons, and because there’s so much invested, they keep him – whether he starts – or sits on the bench.

From the article:
Hal Arkes, a psychologist at Ohio State University who has spent much of his career studying the subject, explains, “Abandoning a project that you’ve invested a lot in feels like you’ve wasted everything, and waste is something we’re told to avoid.” This means that we often end up sticking with something when we’d be better off cutting our losses—sitting through a bad movie, say, just because we’ve paid for the ticket.

“Giving up on a project, though, means that somebody has to admit that he shouldn’t have done it in the first place,” Arkes says. “And there are lots of executives who would rather be tortured than admit that they’re wrong.”

So just to be sure the fit is wrong, and before you cut ties with the solution that made you starry-eyed at the beginning, determine if you have a software issue – a bug, or something that was not set-up properly. Call Support and ask for help. If the first person doesn’t answer your questions satisfactorily, go up the chain of command.

If there aren’t issues, but the technology just isn’t working as it was promoted to you, call your sales person. That individual sold you on a product that, if you gave it a thorough evaluation and they answered all your questions, should work for you. At the very least, they should understand your issues and recommend solutions – right away.

Was the software too complicated for your agency? The modules are designed for individuals who have an understanding of their roles. I’ve seen it many times in small agencies where employees wear many hats – and just because they’re managing the day-to-day doesn’t mean they are in the mindset of using a full accounting or project scheduling program.

The programs are designed to make you more efficient and give you data that you can use to grow your business. Maybe it’s time to invest in an employee who has the skill-set to ensure you grow.

This doesn’t mean you have to fire people – they still know your business and will be an asset to the new-hire who brings in advanced skills. 

Maybe you need more training. Either your software provider or a consultant can help you. A ‘fresh pair of eyes’ to double-check your decision before you bail.
But – make sure the support person or your consultant understands your business. Like advertising, creative process, and how you do that thing you do – every day.

Once you have worked with support, sales and / or a consultant and you determined that the software is not the right fit – make the change.

Cut the losses. It is too painful for your staff to slog through something that doesn’t work. They’ll hate you more for keeping it than if you say, “I made a mistake” and find a better fit. They will breathe a collective sigh of relief and appreciate the fact that you are human - and admit it.

Your agency has just gained tons of knowledge about the tools and process for evaluating the technology to make your agency more efficient. Going forward, they will really know what they don't want.

So before you invest another $8.25 million (it can feel that way), venture back out and really grill the next all-encompassing-solution-provider without all that beguiling starry-eyed fascination.

You all have the right to play on a team that wins. (of course I had to get a football metaphor in here.)

Have a great - and safe - weekend!