I often hear restoration contractors talk about technology fatigue and how their company can’t possibly look at any more systems. Why are some companies able to embrace new technology and adapt, while others struggle? It boils down to two key factors: first, the rate of change your team can logically adopt, and two, the preparatory work put in by the leadership team.
Factors Affecting Adoption of New Technology
It’s important to understand the rate of change that can be adopted by your team. It’s a factor of the amount of change between the old and new processes, and the amount of perceived value for the user.
The lower the change in process and higher the end user value, the easier the adoption process will be. The ideal equation is 5% deviation from norm with a 10x multiplier in perceived value. In this case, the motivation for the user to learn and adapt will be high. A 100% deviation from norm and a 1x multiplier in perceived value would limit the motivation for the user, leading to technology fatigue.
The prep work involved in implementing a new system will make the difference between a successful or negative outcome. Poor prep will limit a successful implementation of even the best software. The key components required for a successful technology roll out are: business assessment, technology assessment, workflow reliability testing (pilot), roll-out planning and timeline, training, and ongoing process improvement.
If a restoration contractor wants to implement a new project management system, it is important to understand the problems this system must solve. The resolution of these challenges need to be mapped to a clear return on investment in terms of reduced costs, and increased revenue, capacity, and employee and customer satisfaction. The ideal solution must solve the critical needs first, before moving to the nice-to-haves. Remember a simple system that addresses a company's critical needs at a world-class level will always outperform a complex system that has tons of features but is mediocre at addressing those needs. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking more features equals more value but that only holds true if the end users need the feature, the solution is easy to use and navigate, and the features work reliably. Last but not least, talk to your peers who have already implemented the systems you think meet your criteria and ask them to demonstrate how they use it.
Once you have narrowed down the solutions, and you have clearly defined criteria for them, bring the vendors to the table and have them demonstrate an easy-to-follow workflow that addresses your needs. Don’t get into a feature list discussion until you are certain that this is a system that meets your needs and that your team can reliably build a workflow around. Rule of thumb: if you can’t follow and perform the workflow in the system, don’t expect others in your company to be able to do it either.
Workflow Reliability Testing (pilot phase)
If you find a solution that addresses your needs and supports a workflow that is easily followed by your team, move to setting up a 30-90 day pilot. While a pilot may cost money, don’t forget this is a system that if successful will be in place for years and your business will depend on it. Pilots are the litmus test that help you avoid years of pain and unnecessary costs. If the pilot is a success, you can count the costs as part of your roll out. Remember planning is crucial for a successful pilot so put the time and effort into mapping out the workflow, getting buy in from the intended pilot users, and training.
Roll Out Planning and Timelines
Remember your team has their day job that you require them to perform consistently even during the technology roll out. Therefore, hiring a consultant to help with the roll out may be worth every penny. A consultant with the required experience can reduce the number of mistakes made, ensure reasonable timelines are set, and reduce technology fatigue. Whether the planning is done internally or with a consultant, a full roll out plan with reasonable times lines is important. The plan needs to include clearly defined workflows, sample outcomes of success, internal champions who will lead the roll out, and regular checkpoints to work through roadblocks.
Don’t boil the ocean on the initial roll out as you will overwhelm your team. Focus on the fundamentals that deliver the highest return on investment for the company. Once successful, your team will be more open to continuous improvement and will offer up new ideas on how the technology can be used to further improve your business. Think of the initial workflow as a baseline that you will build from.
Training is not a one-time event as it takes time and effort to change strongly entrenched behaviours. While the new behaviour may seem logical, it will take several training engagements to help your team fully process the new workflows vs simply digitizing entrenched norms. Digitizing entrenched norms is typically a dead end that limits the return on investment. Getting your team to the point where they are fully embracing the new workflow is like creating a runway for continuous improvement. Underinvesting in training can lead to inconsistency in how the system is used and internal conflict.
Ongoing Process Improvement
Once the system has been successfully deployed and users are following the initial baseline workflow consistently, you want to look for ways to continually improve. It's critical that continuous improvement is based on feedback from a cross section of users. Ideally, you do this on a quarterly or bi-annual basis in an organized manner. When a change is approved, it's important to follow an organized roll out and training plan so that everyone now follows the enhanced process. This new baseline process is what will bring consistency to your business and clarity on what is and isn't working. If users are following their own process, it is difficult, if not impossible, to pinpoint what is and isn’t working.
Users should be encouraged to provide feedback on ideas for continuous improvement. Any change to the workflow needs to be documented and agreed upon by those impacted. This can be a fun and encouraging process when the team is working towards clearly articulated goals, and helps them avoid technology fatigue.
Implementing the Right Technology
Looking for a solution that can make managing claims easier? Request a demo to see firsthand how Encircle can help restorers save time and money by reducing non-billable hours and increasing their work capacity.