One of the challenges that an IT organization has with rolling out any new application is that there are no guarantees of success. Besides all the potential IT issues with the application, no one knows for sure if end users will actually take to the application. This obviously creates a lot of uncertainty because with so much business riding on enterprise applications, everyone naturally becomes a little more averse to the risks associated with developing a new application no matter how great it might be.
To help IT organizations address this issue, Oracle recently added what it calls conceptual-based assessments and links within version 11 of its User Productivity Kit (UPK), which is essentially a set of project management and application testing tools designed specifically to help IT organizations roll out new applications.
With this release, Oracle is trying to make it easier for IT organizations to set up central repositories where end users can discover resources and take tests that show their proficiency with a particular application.
As Trish Trolley, Oracle senior director product management, notes, more goes wrong in the land of IT because of insufficient end-user training than any single other cause. All too often, the project falls behind schedule, which usually results in IT organizations trying to make up for lost time by condensing the end-user training cycle. People, however, are naturally resistant to change, especially when it involves a developer's conception of how they should spend their working day. Invariably, cutting back on the amount of time that end users have to become familiar with an application usually only serves to lengthen the amount of time to get them to actually use it. And in this day and age, when end users don't emotionally buy into an application quickly, they are just as likely to end run the IT department altogether by using some online service.
One of the more useful features of UPK in that regard, says Trolley, is that it allows the development team to record how people are using the application so they can see for themselves what is happening.
For want of a structured approach to introducing end users to an application, the potential value of the application is never attained. Naturally, the more that happens, the less faith business leaders have in IT, which inevitably leads to a downward spiral in the IT budget. Before that happens again, the better approach might be to take the time to work from the end users into the application rather than the opposite approach, which unfortunately still seems to be standard operating procedure pretty much everywhere you go.