Think about all the areas in your life where automation exists. It’s become so ingrained in our everyday activities that sometimes we don’t even realize it. The truth is that if we didn’t have automation, we’d be less efficient, more constrained, and much more stressed out every minute of every day.
While it might seem like an easy concept to accept since it plays such a seemingly normal role in our daily lives, have you wondered what the experience is like when you make the decision to automate a process? You soon realize it’s more complicated than you anticipated—it’s a lot of change. And let’s be honest, as human beings we are inherently wired to distrust anything that disrupts our ordinary routines.
This was an experience that the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists had faced.
AANA wanted to move their Continuing Education program (CE Program) to an online automated process. Prior to making this move, this program was being done manually, taking up AANA staff time. Through this transition, AANA learned how change management is an ongoing process that impacts all staff members. Here are some lessons they learned…
1) Trust is a mandatory ingredient for complex collaborative projects.
Often times, when there’s going to be a major change in a business process, you’re going to encounter a wide range of differing opinions on whether certain staff members want to embrace this new move or not. One of the best ways to mitigate any doubts is to get the entire staff involved with the process and hear their concerns and opinions. Open lines of communication are essential when moving to an automated process because, regardless of what department you are in, it will impact your work. And by communicating regularly, you’re going to build trust among each other and eventually move beyond the fear that is ruling your staff members minds. This was not the case for AANA, but they knew the importance of maintaining transparency. “We’re fortunate to have good relationships with our colleagues partly because we don’t automatically nix their ideas,” said Rebecca Headrick, Application Development Manager at AANA.
2) Take a methodical and inclusive approach to requirements.
When shifting to a new process, one of the most critical parts is gathering the requirements that you would need in order to have a successful transition. For AANA staff, it was a priority for them to understand all aspects of the former CE Portal so they could determine what was needed in order to move it online.
The following is an excerpt from the AANA case study:
In order to identify these requirements, here is what Rebecca Headrick used:
- Include as many people as possible in requirements-gathering meetings but designate only one spokesperson for each stakeholder group.
- Don’t neglect any stakeholder group. “If we had interviewed a few course providers, we would have identified issues early on that we had to tweak after the launch,” said Headrick.
- Be methodical. Make sure you fully understand every aspect of the existing process before moving into development. Document and illustrate the entire process so everyone can examine it and point out gaps.
- Jot down ideas for improving the process as they occur but keep your focus on listening to users talking about the process as is.
While change can be an uncomfortable idea to get on board with, it ultimately moves your organization in the right direction and helps everyone be more efficient at their jobs. Maintaining an open mind and having open lines of communication among your staff members can help you cope and move past the fears you might have. So how did AANA staff see this new system implementation to the end?
To learn more about how AANA managed their CE Portal Program transition from a manual to an automated online process, check out the case study.