Introducing new platforms and tools is a challenging process for many organisations, but there are steps you can take to make it smoother. Recently, we’ve been supporting the Human Rights Funders Network (HRFN) on their organisational security tools, policies and practices – part of which has included guidance on how to support staff in adopting new tools.
From our past work in this area, we have seen that slow and steady wins the race: for new policies, practices, and technologies to become part of workflows, staff need to be able to learn how to use new tools and incorporate them into their daily work practices — and be supported in doing so.
Below are some of the lessons we have gathered over the years. We hope that some of these might be useful to other organisations facing similar challenges.
1. Managing expectations can lead to greater staff buy-in
New platforms can be exciting! They hold the promise of potentially transforming workflows — helping to solve problems around efficiency and effectiveness. However, these changes might not occur straight away, and it is important to set reasonable and attainable expectations around the potential of new platforms.
Setting reasonable expectations helps create buy-in, as the promised impact is more likely to be tangible and observable. This in turn encourages staff to continue to use the new tool, as well as further explore its potential. In our work we have noticed that when expectations are outsized, buy-in tends to fall, as the utility of the new tools appears to be less than expected.
2. Explaining why new tools will be useful supports their adoption
Similarly, it is easy for those who have been deeply involved in the process of deploying new tools to overlook the importance of sharing the utility and advantages of new tools to the rest of the organisation.
Walking your staff through the benefits of a new platform can make the adoption of new technologies a more participatory process. When people have a clear sense of why it is beneficial to incorporate tools and are included in the implementation process, the process of learning about and adopting new tools can be much smoother.
3. Staff need time and space to integrate new tools slowly
The pace at which new tools are introduced is often a key factor in successful adoption of a new platform. Adopting too many new tools at once can feel overwhelming and make it difficult for tool usage to become institutionalised.
Pacing the rollout of new tools (for instance, by creating a road map that staggers tool implementation and follows realistic, spacious timelines), as well as considering the skill levels needed to engage with new tools (and perhaps focusing on introducing more user-friendly tools first) are strategies that can support successful integration of new tools.
The skills required for different tools and platforms can also build on each other, working to reduce uptake time as familiarity and comfort levels increase.
4. Listening to staff feedback & creating opportunities to ‘learn by doing’ can build confidence
Soliciting feedback on the tool and adapting processes to staff preferences both play a strong role in the successful uptake of new platforms: involving staff in the uptake process can create an important feedback loop between skill levels and training and allow for a more hands-on approach, which can be strengthened if team members are able to interact with the new tool early on in the adoption process.
When looking at the difference between successful and unsuccessful introduction of new technologies, we have seen how ‘learning by doing’ (in addition to being shown how to use a new platform) can be a great way for team members to get familiar with a new tool.
Alongside these, having a designated support person on the team who can support other staff members in navigating new tools can help build confidence in the team, as everyone knows who to turn to for guidance, while also giving staff autonomy to explore a new platform for themselves.
Get support from our team!
If you’re thinking about how your organisation could use tech and data more effectively or more securely, we might be able to help through our pro bono Light-Touch Support programme. Organisations with stable funding are welcome to partner with us through our consulting work.
We work with a wide array of organisations, usually within Latin America and Africa, and our partners vary in terms of technical backgrounds. Schedule a call with us!
Image by Tim Mossholder via Unsplash.