But are you really willing to change?

But are you really willing to change?

When any organization is making a change in data management systems, one of the most important considerations during implementation is what business processes need to be changed. Or put another way, when we change the software, are we also willing to change how we do the things we do?

It is not uncommon to hear an executive director say to the vendor during implementation, "Tell us how to do this better so that we can really leverage your software." This is the correct sentiment. But too often, the reality is that while senior management may expect this, very often the staff who actually use the system are more resistant to changing how they do things. Which can lead to trouble.

So what can be done? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Eliminate things that simply don't need to be done anymore. This is the easiest kind of behavior change to make; STOP doing it! You'd be amazed at how many processes exist now that you simply don't need to be doing.
  2. Focus on the outcome, not the input. If the outcome is for someone to be registered for an event and to have data for an attendees list and badge, focus on that, not on how we get there. Then let the vendor tell you the best way to get there using their software.
  3. Highlight how the change will benefit the staff person. Too often we say "This will be good for the association" or "this will be good for the customer." Those are fair desires, but are not terribly appealing to the person whose behavior has to change. You have to explain how the change is better for the person who has to change.
  4. Acknowledge that change can be frightening and unsettling, while also acknowledging that mistakes will be made during the learning period. What I hear from staff is they don't want to change processes for fear of making mistakes.

Changing software is one big step toward improving data management. But changing your processes is another critical element for success. Don't overlook it.

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