An organisation’s staff, or the end users of any outcomes focused case management system, are a critical component of the implementation process. This is because they are the people who will be using the software day in and day out by entering data and running reports.
Therefore, the success or failure of a new system very much depends on whether or not end users buy into the new software.
But what do we mean by staff buy-in?
Staff buy-in is an investment that end users make in the process of implementing and using a new system. So staff are willing to invest time, energy, and effort into the success of the new system and are motivated, invested, and on-board with the required changes. Without staff buy-in, research suggests that 70% of all organisational change efforts will fail.
This blog outlines 5 ways to create staff buy-in to ensure a successful and effective system implementation.
1. Involve staff early on in the process
Don’t wait too long to involve your staff in software discussions. Obtain their feedback on software decisions, answer questions, and address concerns early on in the process. If you wait too long, you’re no longer asking staff to buy-in but you are selling them the decisions you have already made, which is much more difficult.
Gathering user feedback during the software selection process and during the discovery and requirements phase of implementation can help to identify changes that need to be made to your software selection or implementation decisions before you get too far into the process. It is also important to continue to keep staff involved and engaged throughout implementation so that you don’t lose their interest.
2. Listen and document their feedback
Listen to all the feedback and concerns you receive from end users as they may have useful insights into how best to structure the database or ideas for implementation given that they are the ones working so closely with the system. This doesn’t mean that you have to take on board every request, but at least staff will feel like they have been heard throughout the implementation process, which ultimately fosters trust and respect.
It is also important to document any feedback or ideas generated from users in a spreadsheet or some other action-based document. Then identify outcomes, action items or next steps for each item. Even if an item won’t be addressed moving forward, you can identify why that’s the case and be transparent with end users. It is much easier to buy into change when you know your thoughts and opinions matter and have been seriously considered.
3. Inform staff of the benefits for them
Although you may know the numerous benefits of implementing a quality outcomes focused case management system, your staff may not understand or be aware of how the software will benefit them personally. So, be explicit and focus on why the new system matters and how it will benefit them, such as:
- It will save them time with streamlined data entry
- It will make running reports easier
- It will help them manage their caseload
Also, despite several challenges that may be encountered during the implementation process, it is essential that staff understand that the benefits in the long run will far outweigh any challenges experienced in the short term.
There are numerous ways you can tell staff about the benefits of the system, but one useful way is to arrange a software demo where you show them how the software will affect their daily workflow with specific examples. You can even arrange to record the demo for end users to view later if that works best for your organisation.
4. Create an urgency for change
To motivate end users to embrace new software there must be a catalyst for change. There needs to be urgency for the change you are promoting, otherwise it is far too easy to stick to the status quo. Creating urgency requires a combination of the points listed above:
- Listen to your users
- Identify their concerns
- Focus on the benefits of change
You can also use any organisational events that you have coming up to spur on the urgency such as end of the year reporting or a big fundraising campaign. So, essentially you want to show staff how the new software system is urgently needed in order to make their lives easier in order to bring about buy-in.
5. Continue communication throughout
Getting staff to buy into the implementation process in the early days is critical, but once you feel you have achieved this with excited and energised staff who are fully supportive of the new system, it is important not to take the foot off the pedal!
Don’t lose momentum by forgetting about buy-in after those early days. Keep lines of communication open. Communicate progress, ask for advice, and allow staff to voice questions or concerns throughout the implementation process.
You can do this through monthly check-in meetings, continuing end user education, a user forum, or even a mechanism where users can submit feedback to your system administrators.
Whatever ways you use, continued communication helps to keep staff engaged and motivated throughout to ensure your software implementation project is a success.
This blog is based on an original developed by Katie Brown from Sidekick Solutions, Inc. on 10/05/16