John Oughton, head of UK Professional services at Applied systems discusses the issues around moving to a new digital system
In today’s uncertain circumstances, it is critical for brokers to be able to evolve business operations and adopt technology to continue to serve customers. Brokers must ensure they have the technologies necessary to connect with insurers and policyholders, and that they run internally on a transparent and efficient basis.
Through a foundational broker management system, a connected broker enables staff to access and act on a complete view of a customer or prospect. Further, mobility provides staff with the ability to conduct business outside of the office via mobile devices with an up-to-date view of client and business information.
However, if you don’t currently have access to these capabilities, it is time to find the right technology and make the change. While migrating to a new system may seem overwhelming, it is the job of your technology provider to make the complex simple for you. To give you an idea of what to expect during the implementation process, we asked John Oughton, head of UK professional services at Applied Systems the most frequently asked questions about migrating to a new system.
What’s one of the most beneficial things a client can do today to start preparing for an implementation?
Planning is such an important first step in software implementation and is key to having a successful adoption.
To start, it is important to understand your driver.
Ask yourself: why am I making this investment and change? What’s in it for me, my organisation and my staff? and what are my top goals and requirements for this transition?
”Knowing the answers to these questions and understanding your reasons for change will help you tremendously as you begin the planning process. Successful software adoption starts with an implementation plan tailored to specific goals and needs,” said Oughton
When you start with your specific goals and needs, you know what features to implement and when, you can keep your staff focused on the right things, and you can communicate to your staff easily regarding why you made this decision and what’s in it for them to gain buy-in and engagement.
After you identify this, think about who you will have to lead the project and how the rest of your staff will be involved. As soon as the project starts, you will want to be able to choose the right team members to be involved, clearly communicate the goals to them, and set appropriate expectations for your entire staff.
How can business owners support their employees through this change?
It is important to understand and recognise that this will be a significant change for your organisation and staff. How you lead your staff through this change is such an important part of the overall implementation project and your success. We encourage you to implement a change management strategy to help ease the transition.
Change management considers the human element or grey area within the implementation process that appears very black and white.
The most effective change management strategies include: Clearly defining your reasons (as discussed above): why are you making this investment and this change? What’s in it for you as a business leader, for your organisation, for your staff? What are your top goals or requirements for activation?
- Communicating with your staff regularly and appropriately: change in the workplace, if not managed effectively, can create fear of the unknown, causing resistance and a negative experience for all involved. It is important for the entire staff to share in your excitement of the new capabilities and increased efficiencies your new technology will bring. Identifying your champions and challengers: you will want to be intentional about how you involve your team to get the desired outcome. Seek out who your champions are and use them to your advantage. That could mean pairing up champions with challengers. It could mean involving a challenger in some of the decision-making so they have a voice and will support the decisions made. This will be different from employee to employee and organisation to organisation.
- Making it fun: maintaining a positive environment through training, adoption and continued learning post-activation will help ensure that same positivity translates to your customers’ experience. This will be a memorable time at your organisation and can be a great team building opportunity that will make you stronger as a team and an organisation. Effective planning and executing your change management strategy will help manage the emotions and variables both during and after the implementation process and help employees understand, commit to, accept, and embrace this change within the organisation.
What can an organisation do to achieve a successful implementation?
Here are some of our team’s top tips for a successful software implementation:
- Gain executive buy-in: Your leadership team members, including your top executives even if they’re not involved in the project activity day to day, must be on board and supportive of the core implementation team, empowering them to effectively lead and make decisions, and be empathetic to the staff.
- Identify your core team: Your core implementation team is key. Choose a diverse group of individuals who have different strengths and can work as a team. Individuals will need to be detail-oriented, but also able to look at the bigger picture.
- Set your priorities: Features and functionality that will make it easier for you to do business with your partners, and for your policyholders to do business with you, create a better working environment for your staff and set you apart in the market. However, realise that not everything can be done prior to activation. Prioritise what is important for your organisation, so you can understand what features you are going to implement and when.
- Have a solid training plan in place: Your goal will be to prepare your staff to be effective upon activation of your new software solution. This means your staff should be able to perform their regular daily tasks at activation. Put a plan in place for your team to execute.
- Make staff accountable: Hold your staff accountable to complete the training plan you outline. This could be formal management accountability or performance reviews, or it could be peer-to-peer accountability. We’ve seen organisations create healthy competitions so that the team members are holding each other accountable to not let the team down.
- Communication, communication, communication: Communicate regularly with your staff. What’s it in for them? What do you need them to do? And, by all means, keep all of your communication positive.
- Maintain focus: Keep your focus on your top priorities. As [US businessman and educator] Stephen Covey once said: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” In too many situations, change has resulted in a significant amount of waste and anguish in organisations. Useful change tends to be associated with a multi-step process that creates power and motivation.
It requires dedication and must be driven by high quality leadership who demonstrate their commitment to its success. The rewards for those organisations that manage their change efforts will have improved their competitive standing and positioned themselves for a far better future.