Change Management: The Key to Helping Nonprofits Overcome Barriers to IT Adoption

Organizations in every industry and in every corner of the world are facing rapid change. New technology, such as mobile devices and social media, as well as the ability to collect and analyze data on just about anything, have changed the game for commercial businesses and nonprofits alike. The growth in technology has led to greater accessibility – and therefore accountability – as it relates to information, especially for today’s human services organizations. Leaders at such organizations are being held to much higher standards when it comes to documenting how funding is being used to achieve the intended objectives. Luckily, advancements in technology also promise a better way to measure outcomes while improving productivity and reducing overhead and other costs.

Nonetheless, a change in the way an organization operates can be a hard pill to swallow, whether it’s due to new policies, leadership or technology. It’s not uncommon for human services organizations to face some amount of resistance when they introduce the idea of change, particularly as it relates to using new solutions and systems. Those that are most successful in overcoming barriers to IT adoption are able to effectively manage and adapt to challenges that arise along the way. By creating a proactive, flexible change management plan that considers the people, processes and mission involved, public sector organizations can avoid setbacks and confusion and streamline their processes even as they head into uncharted territory.

In this post and my next one,  I will share my thoughts on how organizations can adapt to new technologies through the use of proven change management principles.

Change Management: The Fundamentals

Let’s start with the basics: What is change management and what does it mean for today’s human services organizations? Change management is defined as a structured approach for ensuring that changes are thoroughly and smoothly implemented, and that the lasting-lasting benefits of change are achieved. With tighter funding and spending regulations, as well as a greater need for programs and services, public sector organizations must ensure that they lay the groundwork for successful technology adoption. A solid change management plan that factors in the project’s goals and the people and processes that will be affected during all stages of the rollout is necessary to sustain the project and the mission, as well as adhere to tighter funding and spending regulations.

There are a variety of change management theories and approaches out there, but common steps in any well-thought through plan include:

  • Making the case for change
  • Establishing a vision for change and identifying the strategies to get there
  • Creating an influential and capable leadership team, as well as identifying the supporting roles and expectations of each person
  • Developing a phased implementation timeline for the project
  • Building a comprehensive communication plan that relays information to all levels of the organization throughout every phase
  • Benchmarking and evaluating progress against short- and long-term goals

In order to turn the above steps into a pathway to a successful change, there are a variety of strategies that organizations should implement. These strategies look beyond the process and delve into the biggest component behind a change: working directly with people to ensure that a culture of flexibility and adaptability is present.

In my next entry, I’ll further explore the five recommendations I’ve developed based upon the software implementations nFocus Solutions has done with nonprofits and communities nationwide, including: establishing buy-in at all levels, expecting the unexpected, moving past fear of data and more. Stay tuned for the next part of my series on change management!

One response to “Change Management: The Key to Helping Nonprofits Overcome Barriers to IT Adoption

  1. Pingback: Part 2: 5 Strategies to Ensure a Smooth IT Transition | Ideas nFocus·

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