Without proper planning, many organisations struggle when an ETO™ administrator leaves their position, as this person often takes with them lots of organisational knowledge about their ETO software system. So, replacing their expertise can be a daunting task. However, with some preparation, you can mitigate the risks associated with this transition, especially when you know it is about to happen. This blog will outline 5 steps you can do to deal with the departure of your ETO administrator when you know it is coming. In a subsequent blog, we will outline what to do when your administrator leaves unexpectedly.
But, first things first. When you know that your ETO administrator is leaving their position, it is important to be transparent as early as possible and communicate this change to your entire staff. There are several important reasons for this:
- Change can be stressful and uncomfortable for all ETO users, so it is important that your staff are not surprised by the changes happening around them and are aware of what plans will be put in place to manage the changes.
- End users may be required to take more ownership in the database for a period of time while a new administrator is found who can provide them with the level of support they require.
- Expectations of end users and mid-level users may change as the organisation does its best to fill the knowledge gap left by the departing administrator.
- Roles and responsibilities related to your ETO database may change, and some changes may be sudden.
- Where and how users ask questions may change as temporary ETO administrators take responsibility for the database and then eventually a designated administrator takes responsibility.
In addition to communicating any changes to your staff as a consequence of your ETO administrator leaving, you also need to begin the transition process with the following five steps.
Step 1: Review tasks and the amount of time spent on ETO administration
First, map all of the tasks your ETO administrator is responsible for as well as the time commitment required by their role each month. To do this, it is probably a good idea to ask your current ETO administrator to do the following before they leave:
- Draft a bullet point list of all tasks they complete each month plus any tasks that they complete annually in your ETO database.
- Track all time related to ETO administration for a month (or if two weeks notice is given, for the remaining two weeks of time) and arrange tasks into four categories: data entry, user support, reporting, and system administration.
The benefit of this process is to:
- Determine the amount of time that is spent on ETO administration so you can use this estimate when writing job descriptions, budgeting for positions, or assigning tasks to others.
- Determine the types of tasks required to manage your ETO database so you can find new people and train new people to complete those tasks.
In this way you will have the information to compare costs and calculate the return on investment (ROI) of filling your ETO administrator role.
Step 2: Identify a replacement and the requirements for replacement
After getting a clearer picture of the ETO software administrator role for your organisation, you need to start looking for a replacement. It is best to start this process sooner rather than later for three reasons:
- The ETO administrator skill set is very specialised and finding a replacement that can fill the role immediately may be difficult as there are not many around.
- If you can’t find a replacement ETO administrator you may need to look internally and an internal team member will require training which takes time.
- If finding a replacement ETO administrator or training an internal team member as your ETO administrator aren’t viable options, you might consider an independent ETO software consultant. Evaluating a consultant takes time and you may end up having to wait for their services if they are particularly busy.
When looking for a replacement, it is important to be clear on the requirements for the role so you know what you are looking for. Hopefully step one can help you understand an administrator’s tasks, roles, and responsibilities so you can fine tune this in some kind of job description to help narrow your search for a replacement.
Step 3: Train internal team members
Given that it may take some time to find a permanent ETO administrator, you might want to consider training current team members to take on some ETO administrator tasks. But there is a lot of technical ETO training content to get through, so to make it more manageable, you can break training topics into smaller chunks depending on how you plan to allocate ETO administrator tasks. You can do this be completing the following:
- Take the task list you developed in Step 1.
- Break the tasks into discrete pieces of work or responsibilities.
- Assign each task to separate people within your organisation.
- Make those people responsible for learning and leading that piece of ETO. Part of this learning can be by shadowing your existing ETO administrator before they leave.
Although assigning pieces of the ETO administrator’s role to multiple team members may seem somewhat disconnected, this method has a few primary benefits:
- It is easier for users to get up to speed with ETO when they focus on a specific function. The narrow perspective makes the task of learning ETO more manageable.
- With multiple staff knowing segments of the database, you have more than one person with knowledge of ETO functionality, and hopefully with time their knowledge of one segment will overflow into other segments of ETO.
- Once you hire someone as the primary ETO administrator with global knowledge of the system, you will have at least two people (the internally trained team member and your new ETO administrator) at any one time that knows about a specific ETO feature or function. So you will have a knowledge back up for those tasks and features to help in the event of future staff transitions.
Step 4: Document processes, methods, and procedures
It is often difficult to tap into all the knowledge in your existing ETO administrator’s head and provide this to your new ETO administrator. To get around this, it is important to document all of your processes, methods, and procedures associated with your ETO database.
This is because every ETO database is a little different with unique customisations, therefore, in order to maintain system integrity, consistency, and continuity, any new administrator, whether they have extensive experience or not, will need to know how your specific ETO system operates.
So if you haven’t already got appropriate documentation in place, it is a good idea to ask your current ETO administrator to draft new or update existing user guides, administrator manuals, and process and procedure documentation for all core ETO functionality.
The list of documentation might include the following:
- How to enter data in the database with program-specific requirements
- A blueprint of the ETO database structure
- How and when to run data quality reports
- How to run important benchmark reports or compliance reports
- A list of important contacts at Social Solutions (i.e. account management, support, etc.)
Step 5: Develop a training plan for the new administrator
If you have decided to hire a new ETO administrator, the final thing you can do to prepare for the transition is to develop a specific training plan for the new administrator.
It is recommended that you use a Certified ETO Implementation Partner, Gold Certified ETO Administrator, or Social Solutions’ ETO training curricula to train your new ETO administrator. Your current, departing ETO administrator should not lead training for a new administrator because you don’t want the new ETO administrator to develop bad habits from the old one.
So, although it is helpful for the departing ETO administrator to assist with cross training existing team members, build a separate training plan for the new ETO administrator that takes advantage of a professional ETO trainer’s skill and expertise. The departing administrator can certainly spend some time with the new one before they leave to cover any organisation specific issues, but the general ETO administrator training should be done externally.
Making the transition to a new ETO administrator isn’t easy, but with preparation you can overcome most of the challenges, especially when you know it is coming. However, when your ETO administrator leaves unexpectedly, this can be particularly stressful. In our next blog, we talk about how to tackle this situation.