Turning Process Into Progress: Using Technology to Drive Institutional Improvement

March 3, 2022 Watermark Insights

How many times have you wondered if the tedious, time-consuming parts of your job could become more efficient with the use of software? You do the research and find software that can help, but now comes the tricky part: securing funding and buy-in from your colleagues.

Dr. Glenn Phillips, former Director of Assessment at Howard University, has successfully championed the adoption of new technology at his institution. Here are a few tips to help navigate the process.

Develop an Effective Strategy for Adoption

Developing a useful technology adoption strategy requires you to know the needs of your institution, including your current assets and processes. The goal is to bring in a software solution that aligns with your existing processes, so you don’t have to completely change the way you work.

There are four steps Phillips recommends you take when building your strategy:

  1. Know the technology you want to integrate and how it will support and improve your current processes. Develop a deep understanding of what your new technology will bring to the table.
  2. Identify your allies and gather a group of individuals who are on board. Be sure to involve the IT department from the start. This ensures a smooth, accessible roll-out with single sign-on (SSO) access and integration with other key software applications (for example, your learning management system).
  3. Make yourself accessible to the people who are using the tech. Be available to answer their questions and talk through your goals for the onboarding process.
  4. Show everyone the benefits of the technology. Ensure your faculty and staff know how the technology can help improve their work lives and processes, and reassure them it won’t become a hindrance.

Create a Compelling Argument for Budget

Crafting a compelling argument is all about asking the right questions. Typical budgeting conversations involve questions like:

  • Who wins if we get it?
  • What does it cost?
  • Who will pay for it?
  • How long will we need to use it?

Phillips recommends re-organizing your argument to uncover the risk your institution takes by not getting the technology. “You don’t need to argue for technology; you need to argue for this technology,” he states.

Instead, consider asking questions like:

  • Who loses if we don’t get this software?
  • What do we risk?
  • Who is responsible if it doesn’t happen?
  • How long have we gone without it?

Create a Training and Communication Plan for Your Community

Providing your faculty and staff with meaningful training is essential for buy-in. If your community understands how the solution works and believes in its benefits, they’ll be more likely to use it and encourage others to do the same.

Successful training and communication depend on four factors:

  1. Your process determines your audience. Focus your training on the specific roles that will be using the tech and what they need to know to fulfill their duties.
  2. Your size determines your service. Design your training plan based on the resources and time you have, and offer what you can to your community to help ease the implementation process.
  3. Your culture impacts your invitation. Know how your community learns best and how they connect with new materials and design your training and resources around that.
  4. The purpose writes your pedagogy. Create your training materials around the “why.” Show your faculty and staff how the software will improve their day-to-day lives.

Remember the End Goal

Technology is a tool that can help you turn your processes into progress. As Phillips states, “We don't want technology to make our lives easier. We want technology because it opens us up to the possibility of what our office could do if we weren't hamstrung by having to copy and paste things every day.” Implementing technology across your campus can open doors for improvement and create sustainable, efficient processes.

For more advice on successfully onboarding new software at your institution, download The Essential Guide: How To Be a Technology Champion.

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