Workforce management programmes are still failing

Posted by Alastair on July 21, 2015

WFM Programmes are still failing

Workforce management programmes are still failing, what if I told you that…

…more than half of our projects are what I would call “rectification work”?

I define “rectification work” as a project which has cost the organisation more to re-implement than if they’d gotten things right at the start. This figure really surprised me when I looked at our projects in detail.

Whilst, for us as a company, it could be seen to be a great business model, it makes me feel uncomfortable because getting things right first time is actually relatively simple. The message is the same and the story is not new. To succeed, a project has to be multi-dimensional incorporating technology, people and process with a change management wrap around. Everyone talks about this and everyone knows it, and in theory, we learn from our mistakes in life, but that just doesn’t seem to be the case here.

We specialise in workforce management, where change management is critical to success and we have seen many organisations not getting the benefits from mobility that, 1) they expected and 2) were eminently achievable. So where has it all gone wrong?


Whilst a undoubtedly a major part of the solution, the way it’s being implemented is a problem and we see this manifesting itself in two ways.

Firstly, when implemented by a software vendor the emphasis is usually around the theory that everything can be customised to meet the client’s needs. Inevitably, this causes upgrade issues, particularly if it’s an on-premise solution, but more importantly, implementing in this way tends to lead to a technology-driven project which, by its very nature and philosophy, will neglect the process and change issues.

Secondly, whilst software vendors completely understand their product, unfortunately they often miss a trick when it comes to really understanding the impact of the end-to-end process through which a number of different solutions are deployed. It goes without saying that optimising a single part of the process, without looking at the end-to-end process, leads to sub-optimal processes overall.


A second failing is that we see companies failing to understand the significance and importance of managing change to the extent that they should. I am not sure if this is down to rigorous cost pressures, a level of complacency or a belief that change skills are available in-house. This is almost always a false economy, at some stage, change costs will be incurred but it is so much cheaper to make the outlay at the start than fail and have to re-implement.

A successful project is not just about delivering to time and budget (organisations are getting better at that) but it’s about creating the efficiencies and maximising the investment.


A third level of failure is in regard to usability, particularly when implementing a mobile solution. Gone are the days where we used to think about the challenges of introducing a mobile device to people who have never used a device. Now most users are technology savvy and this impacts people’s expectations. Some organisations have implemented a very rudimentary mobile interface and if this doesn’t meet the user’s consumer experience the end result is lack of use.

So why are companies still getting it so wrong?

My view may be subjective, but I think as technology becomes easier to implement organisations assume projects are easier to do; the reality is the opposite.  As communication channels become more digitised and social media demonstrates how quickly communication can happen, there is more resentment about being kept in the dark.

As technology advances, real benefits come from knocking down silos and real, effective change management is not just important, it’s a necessity.

In summary, it’s not just that the same mistakes are being made; there’s a growing tendency to make assumptions and forget about the real challenges. While organisations implement technology in isolation, we will continue to support our customers with “rectification”,  but it would be so much more rewarding to help them get it right first time.