Outcomes Measurement software can help your organisation save time, increase revenue, and make smarter decisions using data, but it cannot do these things on its own. In order to realise the benefits of outcomes measurement software, you need to design a system that connects technology, process, and people. So it’s not just about the software itself, but all three of these components are required to sustain your software, otherwise it will fall apart and you won’t be maximising your investment (see SQI’s other blogs on “Outcomes Measurement Software – an investment not an expense” and “5 ways to measure Return on Investment (ROI) for your Outcomes Measurement System” for more information on this). This blog will describe in detail each of these three components of an Outcomes Measurement System Design to help your organisation succeed in the selection, implementation, and management of your software.
Technology is the “what.” Questions associated with this component include:
- What software will be used?
- What features and functions will the software have?
- What functions of the organisation will the software manage?
If you’re looking for new software, you should conduct a needs analysis using these questions. Write out a list of your needs, all of the challenges you hope to solve, and all of the “nice to haves” your organisation wishes it had. Use this list to find software that closely matches your requirements list. SQI has an e-book and associated worksheet on 12 steps to finding the right Outcomes Measurement System, which you might be interested in looking at to help you with this needs analysis.
On the other hand, if you have existing software and aren’t sure if the software is the best fit for your organisation, you should conduct a software system assessment using these questions. Define your goals for the software and the outcomes you hope to achieve with it. Determine if your existing software can achieve your goals. If it can’t, you need to determine if you want to stick with your existing system in the short term, or evaluate other options and switch to a different data capture and reporting system. If it can achieve your goals, you need to make sure your software continues to match your expectations which may mean implementing some changes to ensure it is working for you and maximise its potential. SQI’s ebook and worksheets on a “Data Management System Health Check” can walk you through this assessment.
Process is the “how.” Questions associated with this component include:
- How will the organisation interact with the software?
- How will work change as a part of the adoption of this software?
- How will the organisation transition from its current state to the new software?
Processes integrate technology with your organisation. Processes are the workflows and operational procedures your organisation uses to interface with the software. Processes are the glue that holds an information system together as they sit between “technology” and “people”. Processes essentially control the flow of people and information in, out, and around the software system.
Although processes are so important in linking your people to the software, they are often underestimated and not clearly defined from the beginning, which can lead to a decrease in productivity, usually through duplication of work, and rejection of the software by users (see SQI’s blog on “How to manage 3 Outcomes Software Implementation Pitfalls” for more information on underestimating processes).
So it is important to define your organisational processes by mapping the relationship between the software and your software users. For example, how do users access the software and how often? What everyday tasks do users complete with the software? How will we support users when they have questions or feedback?
People are the “who.”
Questions associated with this component include:
- Who will use the software?
- Who will lead the implementation?
- Who will be responsible for specific tasks, management, and support?
- Who is the lead decision maker when it comes to matters related to the software?
If you use the analogy of a calculator, this only works if the person using the calculator knows the basics of maths. Software works in the same way.
Your system needs proficient users to operate the software so it needs to be “people focused”. Focusing on people will help users buy into the software and maximize the features available in the software. That’s why training is so important but is often an area where many organisations make cuts if budgets are tight. SQI’s blogs on “6 Ways to Create Staff buy-in”, “5 Common Outcomes Software Challenges” and “5 Issues to Consider before Outcomes Software Implementation” provide some useful tips when it comes to your “people”. So remember the “who” to ensure all stakeholders feel supported by and confident in the system’s implementation, thereby ensuring success.