An organisation’s staff are a critical component of the implementation of any outcomes focused case management system. The success or failure of a new system very much depends on whether or not staff buy into the new software.
But what do we mean by staff buy-in? Staff buy-in is an investment that staff 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.
But, buy-in shouldn’t be focused on a single segment of the organisation. All levels should be involved. Buy-in from the executive level of the organisation provides top-down organisational pressure during the implementation process. In addition, building trust and buy-in from lower level staff creates bottom-up organisational pressure. The bottom-up and top-down forces create a sustainable implementation process where all stakeholders feel supported by and confident in the system’s implementation process, thereby ensuring success. This blog outlines 6 ways to create staff buy-in to ensure a successful and effective system implementation.
1. Involve staff early on in the process
Buy in starts by involving an executive level staff member in the implementation project. This can be achieved by establishing executive endorsement of the project, with this endorsement communicated to the entire organisation, perhaps through an organisation-wide email or as a formal announcement during an all-staff meeting. An organisational leader can also reinforce their endorsement by actively involving themselves in the implementation process from the beginning, usually as a project leader.
It is also important not to wait too long to involve other 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 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 & document their feedback
Listen to all the feedback and concerns you receive from staff, particularly 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 staff 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 all staff. 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. This can be tricky as the answer to the question, “why does this matter to me,” will vary from person to person so you need to clearly define and then communicate the value of the change to each person in the organisation. For example, for end users you may suggest that the system will save them time with streamlined data entry and help them manage their caseload, whilst for management, you may focus on the ease with which reports can be generated with the new system.
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 work with specific examples. You can even record the demo for staff to view later if that works best for your organisation.
4. Create an urgency for change
To motivate all staff 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 staff
- 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 and sustain the organisation in the long-term, in order to bring about buy-in across all levels.
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 energized staff who are fully supportive of the new system, it is important to not 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 staff education, a user forum, or even a mechanism where staff can submit feedback to your system administrators. Whatever ways you use, continued communication helps to keep staff engaged and motivated throughout.
6. Celebrate successes
Finally, during your implementation process, your organisation may have gone through some big changes, experienced numerous challenges, and made some adaptations along the way. To get through this, everyone collaborated to make it a success, so it is important to celebrate this success. The method of celebration will vary based on your organisation’s motivations and your staff’s interests and passions. You may arrange a catered lunch at the office, or a team building day out. Whatever idea you go with, make sure the celebration of success is meaningful and shows that the organisation as a whole is proud of its achievements.
It is also important to continually celebrate successes along the way. This shows staff from top to bottom that the organisation appreciates their efforts, which will help staff see the new system in a positive way. This will ultimately help staff to buy into the long-term use of the software to ensure your implementation project is a success.