Technology without tears

l. Have reason for using new technology
The first step in planning for introduction has little to do with the equipment. Spend some time thinking about what you want done, what software will help you meet those objectives and what hardware will best run the software.
Here are some ideas to help in the process
* Do an audit. What technologies are currently being used and for what reason ie personnel, payroll, record keeping, library admin, word processing, scheduling, stock control, budget, communication networking, transport.
* How effective is current usage? What skills do staff currently possess? What staff development opportunities are available? What consultants are available? Who’s responsible for your overall technology use?
* Verify the audit findings with users.
* Formulate plan which specifies how the new technology will facilitate more effective training, production, or administrative practice.
* Establish reasonable timeframe for implementation.
* Never purchase hardware and software before having identified the purpose to which the technology will be put.

2. Build ownership with key participants.
Any new initiative or purchase must be owned by and reflected in the actions of the participants if it’s to change their professional behaviour.
Without involvement and commitment, successful implemen-tation will be difficult.
Have strategies for involving relevant staff members in the appropriate decision making pro-cesses. Consider task forces, com-mittees, regular communication, mentoring and awareness sessions.

3. Examine all budgetary considerations
Funding for tech-nology initiatives extends beyond the initial purchase costs of expensive hardware. Consider also maintenance, replacement and up-grading costs, as well as the costs of software, ancillary items, and training. Ideally, three to five year fiscal plan should account for these costs and incorporate such alternative financial strategies as lease or buy back agreements.

4. Develop plan for staff training and professional development
Training and pro-fessional develop-ment are separate requirements when introducing new equip-ment or technological initiative. Training makes staff competent users of the technology and users need training time to become familiar with the use of the new tools, such as copying files, adding graphics, crashing disks, losing files and operating printers. Professional development allows them to incorporate the technology into the workplace environment.

5. Guarantee access to support
Staff need access to range of support services to integrate the technology into the workplace. Without this, technology becomes another imposition, rather than catalyst for improving per-formance. Explore the variety of opportunities; net-working, journals, consultants, pro-fessional or trade associations and the technology suppliers themselves.

6. Evaluate
An evaluative process must accompany any new initiative to enhance further decisions. In essence, did it contribute to workplace practice, what were the positives/negatives?

7. Don’t forget the value of people
Remember: suc-cessful initiative depends on more than the mere injection of new technology. It’s the commitment, dedication, enthusiasm, skills and knowledge of your employees and others that matter. Take steps to foster their involvement.

From Just about Everything Manager Needs to Know, by Neil Flanagan & Jarvis Finger, Plum Press. Copy information to email: [email protected]

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