Next Steps for Selecting and Implementing New Technologies

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The next step will be to select and implement the right technology tool that fits your business needs. There are a few pitfalls you will want to avoid while choosing the right tool for your organization. The first pitfall to avoid includes failing to conduct research around previous user experiences. Ratings of the product and comments from people or organizations that have used the tool can be very insightful. Second, you want to avoid choosing a tool based on a surface level review. Avoid making a decision based on what looks flashy or sleek—the bells and whistles—versus what the company actually needs. Finally, steer clear of pushing the use of a tool down from the top, without any kind of buy-in, training, or involvement from the end-users. All of these pitfalls are common when choosing a new technology tool and will result in an expensive system that no one uses. A three-step process of conducting research, methodically comparing technology, and committing to controlling change management can help you implement a technology solution. Utilizing the resources available and creating an action plan will also result in success.

Utilize research to understand and prioritize your needs when creating a budget.

Before implementing a tool, you’ll need to identify and understand the needs of the people who will use it. These people include your volunteers or partners. Also identify anyone else who is going to be impacted by your decision, such as the consultants, clients, or even the board of directors. These people are your key stakeholders.

To help you understand the needs of the key stakeholders, pull together a focus group or conduct surveys. Estimate the time that should be dedicated to this step based on the number of people impacted, the processes affected, and the overall business impact. Free web-based tools, such as Google Docs, allow you to create and analyze a survey online. Next, prioritize the organization’s needs. Think about what is most important and what the biggest “pain points” are in your organization and how technology can address them.

Finally, you will want to identify your budget. Several tools are either free or low-cost; however, the amount of time it can take you to set up and run the tool can actually make the tool more expensive than some of the tools that have a subscription cost. Review the comparison tables that provide guidance on time required for each tool.

Compare and prioritize features, and conduct a pilot test.

Let your needs drive what kind of functionality you require. A common pitfall is to choose the tool with the most features; however, this may not be the best choice for your organization.

Once you’ve identified your needs, take the time to compare the features that meet those needs. You can begin by using the comparison table and report card provided. Build upon these tools and adjust them for your organization.

Determine if you can get a free “test drive” of the product. Ask end users to be involved. Their involvement will result in highly applicable feedback. Additionally, you will be able to rely on them to help train the rest of the team or speak about their positive experiences with the tool.

Effectively prepare for and address change management.

Once a tool is chosen and the adoption phase begins, you will need to involve key stakeholders in the beginning to help manage the change. Many players are involved, so you must identify and mitigate possible risks, including refusal to adopt the tool, or volunteers and partners not showing up. Evaluating risk includes identifying the likelihood of an event occurring and the resulting negative impact.

Next, think about how to communicate the decision to implement a new technology and how to get people involved. What are you going to say to your stakeholders? Is it going to be in a series of emails, in a meeting, or in a newsletter? Finally, who is going to be rolling this out, and who can answer questions? This is where your end-user pilot advocates will come into play. Also, you can identify people whom you believe will be early adopters to have them be part of the rollout plan.

Once a communication plan has been identified, a training program should be developed. The program includes not only hands-on training, but development of collateral materials, such as step-by-step guides, reminder emails, or tip sheets. These are helpful reference tools for people who are slow to adopt technology.

Finally, evaluation of the tool post-rollout will demonstrate the effectiveness of the solution. Usage statistics can show how many people are coming to training, who is using the tool, and how frequently. Collecting information along the way can help identify the most effective strategy for adoption. Other evaluation measures can be done through surveys or focus groups to find out if the technology solution is addressing the needs that it was designed to address.

An action plan can help your staff see the value.

People will only use new technology for one of two reasons: they are excited about it and want to see the value it will add to their jobs, or they have to use it. While people are often required to use a certain system, showing the value it will bring to their position will speed the time from trial to adoption.

An action plan can help you organize your thoughts on paper. Include your goals, list of identified stakeholders, and steps for moving forward. To begin creating your action plan, download the Action Plan Template.

Click to open interactivity Roadmap of an Action Plan

Roadmap of an Action Plan

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