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Sustaining digital transformation at your school over the long run

In this series of articles, we explore adopting new technology and automating processes in schools. Discover keys to success and ensure sustainable systems, avoiding project failure.

In Part 1 we looked at adopting new technology or automating some manual processes at your school and in Part 2 we looked at the key components of a solid digital transformation strategy. Part 3 considers sustaining your new systems and processes for the long haul.

It’s no secret that digital transformation at your school requires a healthy budget and dedicated resources to be successful. That’s why it’s so disappointing when smart, strategic plans either fail to get off the ground, or survive over the long term.

A recent study by McKinsey found that 70% of digital transformation projects fail, either because they didn’t meet their basic goals, they dragged on before being abandoned or they maxed out their budget early. At Cole School Experts, we’ve witnessed countless schools dealing with the aftermath of a failed digital strategy, where teams are left operating within a patchwork of legacy processes, multiple sources of truth and inefficient systems. The result of failed digital transformation can be devastating — even more devastating than refusing to implement digital strategies in the first place! 

In this series, we’ve walked you through two of the most crucial phases of digital transformation: preparation and creating a strategy. Without having a solid strategy and adequate preparation, projects are usually doomed to fail from the start. However, even with these two essential pieces in place, schools aren’t quite out of the woods when it comes to implementing and sustaining their strategies over the long term. In this post, we’re going to bring our series full circle and give your transformation the best shot at success. Let’s dive in.

1. Plan your implementation with a healthy dose of strategy

Once you have all of the pieces in place — systems have been updated, staff are ready to go — it can be tempting to roll out the entire new system at once. Unfortunately, this is one of the most common mistakes we see during implementation, causing confusion and difficulties for your staff, families and key stakeholders.

Instead, we recommend you create a strategic rollout plan, implementing new modules in stages, with the most necessary modules prioritised first. This allows you to gather feedback throughout the rollout, and makes any required changes a lot more manageable. It’s essential that your project manager is present and available throughout the entire rollout to answer questions and address difficulties as they arise.

2. Make sure you provide thorough training to all stakeholders

The big key to user adoption (and securing the success of your project) is training. Your staff’s comfortability with the new systems ahead of time will be the driver to ensuring a positive end user experience.

There are lots of ways that you can ensure your training process is well-received by your end users. We recommend using software with real school data, and providing plenty of opportunities for hands-on learning. 

Once you’ve completed training, it’s important that you provide staff with ongoing support so they can keep their knowledge up to date. You can provide them with a link to all available support options, including collaboration and community forums and relevant communication channels. 

3. Implement regular health checks

Finally, it’s essential that you schedule regular health checks  to ensure:

• Your systems are being used correctly and to their full capacity

• You’ve identified any areas that are not being used or aren’t used well.

It helps to use an unbiased external resource to perform your reviews and report back to leadership. By using someone from outside of your school, you’ll have access to a neutral third party to weigh in on important process and structural changes and provide their expertise.

When we work with schools on digital transformation, we advise teams to set up health checks every few years. In our health checks, we look at:

• New system features to avoid duplication across multiple platforms

• Any system redundancies that can be eliminated

• Opportunities to consolidate systems

• Potential cost savings

• New and existing integrations

• The entire software ecosystem, and how it can be simplified. 

Enlisting help to sustain digital transformation at your school

If you’re in the throes of a new digital project, it’s never too early to start thinking about how to sustain it long-term. At Cole School Experts, we’ve helped dozens of schools successfully implement and maintain new digital systems. If you’re looking for the support you need to keep your systems on track, make sure you chat to our team of experts today. We’d love to hear from you!

Contact Cole School Experts