By Lola Rain
You pride yourself on working for an innovative company, and you know there are a lot of ways to improve your business operations and care delivery, right? But how do you find, select, and implement the right technology?
With zero senior living conferences since March, it’s difficult to find cutting edge solutions and new emerging technologies. The companies are out there. Not only are you having a hard time finding them, but they are also having a tough time connecting with you. (Luckily, we have a tech conference coming up that you won’t want to miss.)
Once you find the product you are interested in, a lot of discovery is necessary to determine if it is the perfect fit for your company. First, you need buy-in from executives and staff. Then a reasonable timeframe for launching needs to be established. And finally, the cost must be justified.
Regardless of which challenge you are looking to solve with technology, three of the biggest factors that go into decision-making are:
- Adoption versus Disruption
- Implementation Resources
- Cost and Return on Investment (ROI)
Will My Staff Embrace It or Will It Disrupt Their Core Duties?
Adoption is key to the success of any new system or process. How can you go about determining if the technology you are considering will disrupt your staffs’ workflow and morale?
While leadership may believe that any obstacles can be overcome for the greater good of the organization and the people it serves, the staff are the ones expected to use the technology. Without their complete buy-in, adoption will be slow. Job satisfaction could decrease, and conflict or tension may manifest out of nowhere.
Ask the vendor this important question: What training tools do you have to ensure staff has the resources and support necessary for a successful implementation?
Ask yourself: Whose input is essential in the decision-making process? Are there any staff members who might disrupt the entire team if they are not involved in selecting the solution? Who on your team needs to be the cheerleader that everyone can get behind?
How Much Time Will It Take to Get up and Running?
Honestly, in our industry, we are slow at decision-making. But once we do decide, we are in a hurry to go. When evaluating technology, it’s not just a question of how fast can the vendor implement, it’s how fast can your company move?
Some technologies can be up in days, and others take nine months or more depending on internal delays and conflicts. Have an open conversation with the vendor about typical delays seen in past projects. Identify and share those potential pitfalls. The vendor, while they are here to help you meet your goals, must manage their own staff and resources too.
Don’t be surprised if there are starts and stops during implementation. No two companies are exactly the same. A challenge that one company experiences, is not the same as another.
Can We Really Afford This? Or Can We Afford Not to Do This?
The answer to this question takes a lot of big picture thinking and projecting multiple years into the future. If it’s operations, it can help reduce overall cost over the long haul. If it’s marketing, it can help increase revenue. If it’s resident engagement, it can help extend length of stay, resident satisfaction, marketability, and so much more.
The company courting you should know all the benefits. They need to be able to point to case studies or client testimonials. A company doesn’t always have to be well-establish to help you achieve your goals. They just need to be determined and committed. Plenty of startups want to prove their value to you.
Don’t expect a free trial when selecting your technology partner. Free pilots were popular a few years back, but two things happened to make them unfeasible. One, senior living providers had very little skin in the game when testing a product and thus very few pilots turned into paid contracts. Two, a tech company cannot survive on doing unpaid trials. This means they need a lot of startup capital or a huge credit line, which risks the health and longevity of their organization.
While free pilot programs are rarely available anymore, you can negotiate a rate and length of contract that makes sense for your organization. Tech partners want to see success. Most are not in senior living to get rich. They actually care for our older population.
When evaluating the solution, view it from 10,000 feet, and then look through the eyes of your employees. It’s not worth it if it causes employee turnover. But it is worth it if it makes everyone’s life better.