Platforms and software hold a lot of promise for career centers, but implementing them is seldom as easy as we want it to be. Launching a new piece of technology isn't just a technical project, but also a human one. Every new tool requires training, feedback, and consensus building to work smoothly.
Fortunately for us, Shannon Conklin, Associate Director of Assessment and Technology at the Temple University Career Center, and Kevin Grubb, Associate Director of Digital Media and Assessment at the Villanova University Career Center, are presenting on the subject at this year's NACE conference in Chicago.
We asked them to give us a preview of their session, “We’re All Technologists: Successfully Realizing the Power of Your Team’s New Technology." Find details on their session here.
When we evaluate new platforms and tools, we often focus on the technological aspects of implementation to the detriment of its human aspects. How is implementation both a technological process and a human process?
Technology changes rapidly, there are new platforms, tools, apps, and trends to consider on a daily basis. When looking at new technology that offers a real solution, it is easy to float right into dreaming about all of the possibilities. Smarter work processes, happier stakeholders, enhanced engagement, better data—it can feel empowering.
Here is where it is critical to keep in mind the capacity of the team to harness this technology, as well as the value-add to your team and your end users. Not everything will go smoothly. A piece of the puzzle won't slide right into place as expected. Setbacks are inevitable. How will the team respond? How much change can the team and the institution handle in a given time period? Understanding the goals and challenges of the people who will be impacted by this technology is just as critical as understanding the technology itself.
How can we make the process of rolling out a new tool or platform smooth?
We like to think there are three central ideas to keep in mind during the roll out: involve, delegate, and track. Involve the stakeholders at every step of the process, and especially in the beginning stages so they feel a connection and commitment to what will happen next. This initial stage sets the tone. Without buy-in from all of your stakeholders, you risk setbacks as you progress in implementation. Delegate the work appropriately and make it clear how decisions and timelines will be determined. In order to successfully launch your tool or platform on time, everyone has to do their part. As project managers, we have the 20,000 foot view and may want to be involved in every step of the way, but it’s important to tap the talent on your team.
Finally, track the progress of the roll out as openly as possible so your team understands the priorities and to-do lists. This transparency is key, and reinforces the ongoing engagement and value of your stakeholders. We have some specific tools and frameworks to share during our session at the NACE conference which helped us do this.
How should we evaluate new tools and platforms while keeping in mind the human process involved in rolling out something new?
Make sure to include a variety of people and perspectives in the evaluation process. Do this in an intentional and meaningful way. They can be part of the initial product demos or they can submit questions to be answered during the evaluation at another time. Organize focus groups or roll out surveys. The earlier all of the ideas, questions, and concerns are known, the better the decision and roll out can be moving forward.
For more advice on adopting new technologies, download our free whitepaper on choosing the right engagement platform.