Social Business Porjects Causes Unrest at Sage HQ

Business software and services company Sage has told Computing how the implementation of social business tools in its company was met with stiff resistance by staff, who complained of a 'big brother' environment.

Sage is currently testing a beta version of @task's Team Home and Stream tools, which allow staff to monitor the progress of individual projects, as well as constantly update progress with qualitative information, such as conversations and statuses

"We chose @task because of the functionality and ease of use. A lot of similar infrastructures are very complicated and expensive," said Jason Follin, programme office manager at Sage.

"They can cost in the region of half a million pounds and you tend to have to change all of your servers and systems," he added.

"However, as @task operates as software-as-a-service we simply pay £25,000 per year in licensing fees and we have found the usability to be excellent."

Despite the ease of use and reasonable price, Sage described how getting staff to co-operate with new social business systems where they are required to input information that will keep track of what they are doing throughout the day resulted in a backlash.

"We have had a lot of resistance from staff asking us why we are doing this. This tends to stem from them having to input their hours worked on different projects into timesheets," said Follin.

"Although this gives you a view of capacity, such as what people are working on, and what is planned in terms of hours expected to complete projects - it does create an element of big brother," he added.

"We made the mistake of rolling out everything at once and as a result a lot of emotion came out of the training - it was too emotive and got people's backs up. We pulled the training and decided to try to re-communicate with the staff why we were doing this.

"We explained that the software was not there to track their hours, but to get a better understanding of the projects in hand and the capacity. For example, if projects are falling short of deadlines, with the extra qualitative detail this software provides we might be able to get more staff in as a result," said Follin.

However, with the staff beginning to come on board, Sage has seen benefits of increased data and information when analysing projects.

"At Sage we used to just use spreadsheets, and this gave us a very two-dimensional view of our work. But with @task's tools we are able to get a far-more rounded understanding of what is going on," said Follin.

"For example, we use the data provided by staff for our portfolio appraisals. We are now able to use the additional information to rank projects in terms of monetary value and strategic fit. We use the qualitative and quantitative information provided to look at the risk and cost benefits.

"If a project is high in monetary value and low in strategic fit, we will scrap it. This is not a view we have been able to get previously."

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