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Business

Fail or succeed, it's the human factor

There is a well-known Maori saying: "What is the greatest treasure? It is people, it is people, it is people!" This also applies to information technology systems, whether an implementation ends up awesome or awry.
Written by Darren Greenwood, Contributor on

There is a well-known Maori saying: "What is the greatest treasure? It is people, it is people, it is people!" This also applies to information technology systems, whether an implementation ends up awesome or awry.

Indeed, much as we might look at all the latest hot and sexy technologies, what matters most in the successful implementation or operation of them is the human factor.

A few times when I have complained of a problem with my computer I have been told the cause was "the nut behind the keyboard!" The first time round it took a few seconds to realise what I was actually being told! In recent months, we have seen some major technical mishaps where the human factor will have been the primary cause of some great disaster.

I am sure many will never forget the Air New Zealand systems failure two months ago, which led its boss Rob Fyfe to savagely condemn IBM.

Over the past week, Waikato District Health Board has suffered major disruption thanks to its IT systems being infected by the Conficker worm. The organisation, based in the North Island dairy town of Hamilton, has now enlisted Audit New Zealand to conduct an independent root cause analysis as to how the worm was able to infect systems and cause so much devastation.

However, blogger Whaleoil has published commentary from an IT manager explaining his view on how it happened, and Waikato DHB IT staff don't come too well out of it.

Systems and processes are also blamed in a later "="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">commentary from Whaleoil. Either way, we should never ignore the human factor.

This also applies to whether IT staff are trustworthy, as shown in a recent court case where the former CIO of Otago District Health Board in the South Island city of Dunedin "="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">accepted over NZ$750,000 in bribes.

What this means for organisations is that they have to strive hard on HR issues for best performance.

Economic conditions might still be tough, but employers still need to do their best for their staff. That way, they will get motivated staff, which will help avoid such dramas as seen at these large organisations mentioned above.

I recall recently interviewing one employer who said he paid well and even provided lunch for his workers! "How rude not to!" he added, noting this was the best way staff stayed loyal and they gave their best work all the time!

So remember the saying: "What is our greatest treasure? It is people. It is people. It is people!" But this also means, people can also be an organisation's greatest failure.

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