The Vital Role Change Management Plays in OMS Implementation
As mentioned in our previous Blog article, preparing your personnel for the change to a new OMS is an essential part of any successful implementation.
In many ways, on an agency level, the stages of the change management process follow a similar path to the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance. Change can be difficult for individuals who are used to a certain set of Corrections business processes or a system that may have been in place for decades. It’s important to accept and acknowledge that each user may not always understand the need for the change and how it directly impacts a job they have performed everyday. Thus begins the typically painful stages and experience of the change process.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. If an organization plans accordingly and utilizes specific change management strategies, they can cut through many of these stages by simply being transparent and communicating the need for the change. Adopting this approach empowers their employees with the knowledge and education they will need to fully appreciate the vision, as well as the potential awaiting the staff at the onset of the new system.
EDUCATING ON THE BENEFITS FROM DAY ONE
As your legacy OMS continues to require costly upgrades, a first step to leading a successful change management process is simply to acknowledge the reality that not only is it expensive to maintain the current legacy system, but that you are rapidly approaching a point where the system will no longer be able to be sustained. Educating your organization on the reality that this change is only a matter of time, along with spotlighting the new features and opportunities the new system will bring, will serve to stem any rising fears and open them up more quickly to the idea of adopting a new system. It's critical to “create a sense of urgency” that staying where the agency is today is no longer acceptable - together we will adapt and move forward and embrace the new opportunities an upgraded system affords.
It’s also important, before introducing any new system, to develop and “share the vision” of where you will positively end up once implementing the new OMS system by painting a picture of the ways the new system will alleviate pain points associated with any given sector.
For example, showcasing certain empowering new functionalities such as:
- Probation and Parole officers will have access to case notes in the palm of their hands, as well as have the ability to enter new notes at the touch of a button the moment they need to record an event that will become part of the Offender record;
- Overworked counselors will ultimately have access to fully featured, rich in functionality case plans that likely can be customized for an offender at the touch of a button;
- Real time information and data that will allow the Corrections officers the ability to better understand the needs and services incarcerated offenders require;
- Improved Public Safety with more comprehensive Security Threat Group Information and ability to keep separate information for housing of the offenders;
- Modern look and feel for easy use of the OMS for viewing and recording the offender information, made even easier with mobile device capture.
PREPARING FOR THE TECHNOLOGICAL SHIFT
From the earliest moment possible, it is important to have a specialist familiar with your new system on-site and virtually available to gradually introduce your staff to the features of the new system, and answer any questions or address any concerns they may have. We all know in scenarios such as these, you cannot communicate enough, especially when the change affects specific individuals such as the Corrections officers, case workers, treatment specialist, educators, and the technologist.
If your staff feel empowered and educated on the changes about to occur, they will be less likely to question the efficacy of the new system to provide what they need. One of the significant hindrances to implementing a new system can be the staff’s lack of knowledge about the new system, which can not only lead to a level of distrust, but also their unwillingness to embrace the new functionalities.
It’s important to note: an organization's technology team may be the most at risk for change management challenges. Understanding how the new OMS will affect their responsibilities and work duties and fully communicating the nature of the change, continually reassuring them throughout the process, will ensure a stronger adoption of the new system and keep these essential team members onboard while implementing the new system.
LEADERSHIP THROUGH THE CHANGE
One essential aspect that cannot be emphasized enough in the process is “Empowering Others to Act” during the move to a new OMS system. Recruit those individual staff that want to be point persons in helping move to the new OMS system, and allow them to be front and center at Unit meetings and other staff gatherings to help answer questions about the move to the new system, allowing them to also facilitate staff questions and concerns.
Finally, don’t overlook allowing your organization to take time to “Celebrate the Successes” in moving to a new OMS. Successful system testing, completed training by staff, going live, the work of individuals who have accepted the new system and are using it successfully in everyday work, and retiring the old and tired legacy OMS system are just a few specific examples of where successful celebrations can be acknowledged collectively. Never, ever forget to celebrate the hard work and the success - it will continue to drive the move to the new OMS and help those to get to the final stage of the change - acceptance of the new OMS.
PREPARING FOR THE FIRST MONTHS OF GOING LIVE
That Might Be a “Bug!”
As you look ahead to the first months of staff getting used to the new system, make sure that your leadership and key stakeholders--those you have empowered to act--are not only actively open to feedback, but seeking it out. The most important part of this process is making it known to them and the staff that you not only want to hear about any software bugs, defects, navigation or related software issues staff are facing, but that you also expect that as this new system is unleashed into the “wild.”
The end-user will absolutely encounter some defects or system anomalies that had not been anticipated during the testing process. If your stakeholders can feel confident in reporting back any errors their staff are encountering, your partner can immediately get to work fixing those defects before the staff lose patience and find work arounds that undermine the implementation of the new system entirely. To learn more about this process, join us for the next series of Blog articles on “Best Practices for Maintaining and Advancing your OMS.”