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What to Think About When Introducing New Software at Your School

When looking into new technology‭, ‬whatever its use case‭, ‬having a firm plan in place is important‭. ‬From the purchase all the way‭ ‬through to fully embedding the product into your school‭, ‬every stakeholder and user needs to be fully informed of the steps ahead‭. ‬

Early in the purchasing process‭, ‬you should decide how your roll-out is going to look‭. ‬Generally a planning framework should look something like this‭:‬

Discuss a use case‭:‬

  • Is the product replacing an existing solution‭, ‬or will it be adding capabilities‭?‬
  • What does the product need to be able to do to improve on the existing solution‭?‬
  • What will be the expected outcomes from adding capabilities in school‭?‬
  • What can go wrong‭? ‬How do we avoid this‭?‬

Purchasing decision‭:‬

  • Ensure that representatives of all affected parties are privy to the decision making process‭. ‬
  • Lean on the experience of the vendor in rolling-out to other schools to aid your planning‭. ‬
  • Set Key Performance Indicators for the technology on which to reflect after a set period of time‭. ‬

Training‭:‬

  • Training should be concise‭, ‬straightforward and practical‭.‬
  • Training needs to sell the product to the user‭. ‬Show them the benefits‭, ‬or they won’t use it‭.‬
  • Consider the degree to which different user groups need training i.e‭. ‬parents‭ ‬&‭ ‬students may only need an explanatory letter or‭ ‬video rather than a practical session‭.‬
  • Make sure that there are clear objectives from the training‭, ‬e.g‭. ‬staff should be logged into the new system and confident using‭ ‬the most basic functions‭.‬
  • If the technology is being implemented widely across the school‭, ‬consider assigning‭ ‬‘champions’‭ ‬in each department to cascade advanced knowledge and encourage usage‭. ‬
  • If at all possible‭, ‬train every user group simultaneously‭, ‬to the same standard‭.‬

whole-school software

Roll-out‭:‬

  • The beginning of roll-out should be as soon as possible after training in order to maintain momentum and minimise users’‭ ‬erosion of knowledge‭. ‬
  • Set a firm date and stick to it‭.‬
  • Roll-out should happen simultaneously with as many users as possible‭, ‬ideally‭, ‬every user‭. ‬Consistency is key‭. ‬
  • If you’re not confident enough in the product to take this step‭, ‬it probably isn’t right for your school‭.‬
  • Avoid duplication of processes‭. ‬At the point that the new technology is implemented‭, ‬the old technology should be made redundant‭. ‬Again‭ - ‬if you’re not confident enough in the product to take this step‭, ‬it probably isn’t right for your school‭.‬

Ongoing Maintenance‭:‬

  • Make sure that users have a clear point of contact for if they need help or if something goes wrong‭. ‬Ideally this will be from the vendor‭, ‬but if it’s yourself‭, ‬or someone else at the school‭, ‬make sure users know you/their contact details‭, ‬times of availability‭, ‬and estimated‭ ‬response time‭. ‬
  • Keep your software up to date‭, ‬for obvious reasons‭. ‬
  • Keep your product knowledge up to date‭, ‬and stay ahead of your users‭. ‬

Reflection‭:‬

  • Look back at your Key Performance Indicators‭. ‬Did you achieve what you wanted to achieve‭? ‬If not‭, ‬why not‭? ‬
  • Is the product still the best solution for your school‭? ‬Has a different product been released that does a better job‭? ‬
  • The timespan of your plan will depend on your school’s circumstances and the relative complexity of the technology that’s being implemented‭. ‬However‭, ‬moving forward with haste‭, ‬instills confidence in your user base‭, ‬and ensures that people don’t forget how to use the product before they’ve had a chance to‭. ‬

Remember‭ - ‬having a firm plan in place‭, ‬answering questions before they arise‭, ‬and sticking to the dates you’ve set out can help a school implement new technology fully and successfully‭. ‬

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