Four Strategies for Implementing New Tech into Human Services Organizations

I recently had the honor of representing Waypoint Interactive and speaking at ADDP & DDS’s inaugural conference, TALKING TECH. My panel was called How Can Tech Improve Provider Efficiency and Effectiveness? and I was joined by some incredible leaders in Human Services Tech: Pattie Marrin of SteadyCare and Dan Olshansky of Behavioral Health Network, as well as Tim O’Day of SCM Elderbus who recently adopted mobility software from RouteMatch.

While each panelist shared fascinating insights, the most eye-opening moment for me was the Q&A. This is when I discovered what nearly every Human Services provider is wondering right now: not what are the best solutions, but how should we be implementing them? 

What are the best practices for adopting new technology for an entire organization? What questions should we be asking before we even get started? Questions like these surfaced over and over again and led to a great discussion. I want to share the key takeaways from that discussion for anyone considering implementing new technology at their organization. Here are four critical considerations.

1. Prepare Your Organization for the Digital Future

None of us can predict how our data, records, and collective information will be stored in fifty years—let alone five—but we can all agree it’s not going to be on paper. Even if your staff relies on binders or paper records today, soon this information will be needed in a digital format. The facts don’t lie: you are going to have to digitize your data. 

That might feel daunting, but there are myriad benefits, from security to ease-of-use to increased collaboration and so much more. Moving all your data onto a digital platform sets you up for future success.

If you’re weighing the pros and cons of adopting new software, don’t just think in terms of that specific solution, think about the net gains of getting your data digitized. It may lead to huge opportunities you haven’t even planned for. And the sooner you do it, the sooner those opportunities may come.

The facts don’t lie: you are going to have to digitize your data.

2. Get Your Employees to See the Benefits

Veronica shares her insights at the ADDP & DDS Inaugural Conference: TALKING TECH 2019

You can adopt the most advanced solution available, but if your employees don’t use it, nothing will change. At large organizations where employees have used the same processes for decades, resistance to new technologies can be shockingly strong and manifest in many forms, from apathy to skepticism to outright defiance. This is true across industries: in a survey of executives from a variety of business sectors issued by MIT and Capgemini Consulting, 63% of respondents reported that the speed of technological transformation at their organization was too slow. The most frequent obstacle? “A lack of urgency.”

If you want your employees to use a new solution, you have to help them understand the value behind it. Why will it make their jobs easier? Your core team likely already knows. Communicating it to the rest of your organization is paramount. But it’s not enough. The benefits it brings you may be different from the benefits for clinicians, families, or all the other people it’s designed to help. Make sure you know exactly how a new solution will help every part of your team. Then make a plan for communicating it to them.

3. Make Sure There’s Documentation & Support 

You’re just about to dot the i’s, cross the t’s, and adopt that cutting-edge platform that will transform your organization. “When will we get the official documentation for implementation?” you ask. “Oh,” they say, “we don’t really have something official, but we can definitely send you something.” This is a big, red flag. 

If your tech provider can’t provide lengthy, detailed documentation on how to implement their solution, they aren’t equipping you to succeed. Whether they want to keep that information proprietary or they simply don’t have it, it’s a recipe for big headaches down the road.

Your team should always be empowered with the right tools and information to properly implement the solution and take charge if something goes wrong. 

One more thing: the tech provider should also provide a plan for onboarding and ongoing support. There are lots of questions in the early stages of solution adoption. Those who built the solution should be available during those early stages to help your team get up-and-running.

They say: “We don’t really have official documentation.” This is a big red flag.

4. Advocate for Your Organization’s Needs

You have been advocating for human services rights for years, possibly decades. Now it’s time to do that with your tech solutions.

The world of technology moves fast. And there’s a reason tech entrepreneurs are often dubbed “disruptors.” But mantras like Facebook’s motto “move fast and break things” aren’t meant for an industry built around caring for other people. While new tech solutions can be transformative, they rarely come customized for your organization. But you can make them customized for your needs. 

The tech provider won’t know your business—perhaps not even your industry—the way you do, so it’s up to you to let them know exactly what your needs are. If they’re the right kind of tech provider, they’ll listen and help implement software in a way that works best for you. After all, they only succeed if you succeed, so it’s in everyone’s interest to identify what your organization needs to succeed and to make that happen.

Looking for Custom Advice? Look No Further!

Considering or in the process of adopting a new solution for your organization? Have questions about how best to implement it? I’d love to help any way I can. If you’re looking for advice, best practices, or just a 5-minute chat about what to think about, email me at [email protected] and I’ll be in touch!

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2 replies
  1. Daniel Harrison
    Daniel Harrison says:

    I have worked in the human services industry for more than three decades, and during that time have witnessed (and helped guide organizations through) some pretty significant changes. Yet I believe and expect the challenges we will face in this next decade will be among the most significant of my career.

    The dawn of the 4th Industrial Revolution (as it is become known) will also carry breathtaking opportunities that are certain to transform the lives of the people we serve, enhance the family/stakeholder experience, and allow our industry to do more with less through a workforce already in transition.

    NuPath has found a true partner in Waypoint Interactive…a competent guide to help us navigate both the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Working with Veronica and the team at Waypoint has been an amazing and fundamental first step in preparing for the exciting unknown! Waypoint is helping NuPath create a strategic plan for integrating new tech into our organization, and is helping us build capacity for the future at a pace that makes sense. Perhaps most importantly, their approach reflects an authentic understanding and commitment to our vision and mission of supporting people living with disabilities – which has been a rare and wonderful experience.

    Great article, Veronica! And congratulations to the entire Waypoint Team on the launch of Breakthrough! I look forward to becoming a part of this new “thought leadership hub” as we set forth on the adventure of our lives!

    Reply

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