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The Importance of the Human Factor in Information System Implementations by Livia Porto

Tuesday 05, Nov 2019

At some stage in our careers as records and information management professionals we are involved, and will often play a key role, in information system implementations. This article looks at the critical success factors behind a successful information system implementation.

The DeLone & McLean Information System Success Model is one of the most widely used models to measure the success of information systems. The model shows how the system and information quality directly impact the use of the information system, ultimately impacting user satisfaction. 

The user experience and level of satisfaction of an individual also influence whether they will adopt the system. The sum of adoption of all individuals across the organisation will determine the adoption of the system at an organisational level and the overall benefit 
The figure below shows this relationship.

Figure 1 - DeLone and McLean's IS success model

So how can companies ensure that employees adopt and use information systems so they can get the best return on investment possible? What are the Critical Success Factors proven to have a high impact over user satisfaction and ultimately system use?

Across literature on this topic the three most cited Critical Success Factors for user adoption of information systems are: 

  1. Training

  2. Management Support

  3. System Testing


Training is the most cited Critical Success Factor identified across relevant literature for two reasons. 

  1. It improves employees’ knowledge and skills to use the system.

  2. It allows the company to change employees’ feelings towards the system, and in doing so it plays a critical role in change management and user involvement. 

The use of Super Users to facilitate training was proven to generate better results. These employees are required to own the new processes and, because they were leaders in the organisation, it was easier for them to persuade other employees thanks to the close relationships that already existed between them. 

Management support

The second most cited Critical Success Factor was management support. The key reason being that managers who support employees help them understand and accept the changes brought by the system; overcoming resistance. This support also provides an element of legitimacy for the implementation and can boost employee morale post-implementation.

System testing

Robust system testing allows the implementation team enough time to troubleshoot any issues, which in turn increases the chances of the system delivering value instead of bringing disruption to the business. In addition, testing helps to motivate employees to use the system because, when included in the early stages of the implementation, it helps users become familiar with the system more rapidly and reduces resistance upon implementation. 

So what?

It is safe to say that, although the main component of the implementation is an information system (in other words, a technological component), the human component is the one that will enable the achievement of benefits. 
Companies must place value on the initiatives that will have the most impact on user perceptions. This includes ensuring user resistance and stress is reduced by providing appropriate training, involvement in system testing and ensuring the appropriate resources are available through enduring support from management.