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?
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.