Technology groups often defer to department leaders to make their own software decisions if the solution serves a specific purpose within the department. However, for mission-critical systems, the technology department is always involved in procurement and implementation activities.
With good reason. IT teams need to ensure the privacy and protection of the organization’s data and that of their customers. Also, if integrations or modifications will be necessary, the technology team needs a good understanding of the vendor’s capabilities in these areas. If a vendor won’t be able to meet the technical and security needs of the organization, it’s the responsibility of the technology group to make this known to their key business stakeholders. And technology departments play a key role in larger companies and institutions when they are considering the use of a new software system.
Online appointment scheduling is an example of a mission-critical system that many organizations will be implementing in the future. Online booking is becoming more and more popular, and consumers are starting to expect it. Some bigger companies are already offering this service and, for most of them, online scheduling software has lived up to their expectations. They’ve found that customers immediately take to it. As a result, companies are seeing more appointments booked online and, subsequently, increased revenue levels, lower costs, and higher customer satisfaction levels.
However, not all implementations of online scheduling have gone smoothly. Some organizations have struggled or even failed in moving to an online booking platform. When this happens, it’s a setback for the organization because of the time and effort expended, and it’s a disappointment to customers yearning for more control and convenience in the booking process.
Part of why implementations fail is because key technology leaders make mistakes in the vetting process. Under pressure from business users and an overflowing to-do list, they sometimes give their blessings without considering important factors.
To be fair, business sponsors definitely play a role in the vetting process. But often in their haste to solve their problem, they don’t ask the right questions. That’s why it’s incumbent upon technology leaders to do more than just put a mark in the security checkbox. When the tech team gives the go-ahead after analyzing a new system too narrowly, they can unknowingly lessen the likelihood of a successful implementation.
To help ensure this doesn’t happen to you, we’ve assembled the top three ways technology leaders sometimes unwittingly undermine an appointment scheduling software implementation.
UNDERVALUING THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SUPPORTING CAST
When larger organizations look to implement an online appointment scheduling system, they often don’t give enough consideration to one core element of the selection process: the vendor company as a whole. The technology group historically focuses on security and the core technology. But, it’s important for them to dig deeper into areas that can have a profound impact on the implementation. One of those areas is how effectively a vendor supports their offering.
Having a clear understanding of a scheduling company’s support structure and ability to provide assistance when things go wrong is imperative. Any small scheduling software firm can advertise that they have “award-winning support.” Yet when there is a system-wide problem, their two or three support reps are impossible to reach. Find out if your target vendor has dedicated enterprise support. Also, ask how many support reps they have. You may be surprised at what you hear.
If integrations or modifications will be part of your project, it’s important to understand the vendor’s system development methodology and processes. Any good developer can make code changes, but who’s ensuring that the requirements are correct? Who’s creating the technical interface diagrams? Who’s assisting with training documentation? And, will there be a team to maintain the code and address any future issues that arise in a timely manner? Make sure you are comfortable with the answers you get to these questions before proceeding. Also ensure that the scheduling software company you select has a separate professional services team that knows how to run enterprise-scale projects, not just a shared or contract developer who writes code.
Account management is also critical. Most smaller online appointment scheduling companies don’t have account managers on staff. These companies mostly work with very small businesses, so the need for an ongoing relationship, regular check-ins, and personal contact isn’t necessary. Plus, staffing account managers is expensive. But, for larger organizations using scheduling software, having a single liaison for all questions, issues, concerns, or feedback is a must.
UNDERESTIMATING THE NEED FOR CHANGE MANAGEMENT
Technology leaders at one time felt that change management “wasn’t their problem.” But, today’s IT pros know better. Still, some underestimate the need for change management when implementing a new scheduling software system. Then it is their problem. As a matter of fact, it’s the entire organization’s problem. But, it’s the technology group’s role to ensure a new system is effectively adopted.
When implementing a new scheduling system, it’s a given that all the typical tactics for overcoming resistance to change need to be carried out. Users need to be given ample warning, receive documentation, be trained, and be apprised by project or company leaders about the reasons for the change. Some of these responsibilities may or may not fall within the technology team’s arena. These clearly are: ensuring that the application has the right technical configuration, that the performance is acceptable, and that any new hardware or supporting systems are working properly. If any of those areas aren’t handled properly, users will be frustrated — and resistance to change will increase.
UNDERUSING IMPORTANT FUNCTIONALITY
For larger organizations, there is a tendency — and often a policy — to restrict what users can do within an application. It makes sense only to provide access to the functions a user needs to do their job. Giving users access to more features than required can result in confusion for the user, or even costly mistakes.
What’s more, for some industries, restricting user access is also a component of adhering to government-mandated compliance standards. Health care, finance, and education fall into this category.
This “principle of least privilege,” however, can also result in users not being able to make full use of the system. By limiting features, important functionality may be underused, or worse yet, not used. Online scheduling systems consistently offer new releases. If user access is not actively managed, this can result in useful features going untapped.
While technology leaders would never intentionally undermine a scheduling software implementation project, they may be inadvertently doing just that by undervaluing the importance of support, underestimating the need for effective change management, and unnecessarily limiting users from accessing important system features.
If your organization is thinking about implementing online appointment scheduling software, remember these important considerations. They could make the difference between a successful implementation and one that ends in frustration.