The only constant is change, right? Truer words have never been spoken in the field of career services. If your office is anything like mine, you are constantly evolving and adjusting to provide the best service.
Specifically, we’ve had a LOT of change around our CSM and jobs database. After spending many years with one system, we decided to switch to Handshake this spring. This was a fairly major overhaul, given the amount of historical data we had in our prior system, size of our staff, and size of our student body.
Since I have led many prior system implementations, I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity help lead the Handshake implementation. I’ve learned so much about how to avoid anxiety (for yourself and others!) and keep a project on track. Below are a few tips for any office considering a big technology shift:
You can’t do it yourself.
When shifting technology in an office as small as four and as big as forty, one thing is for sure – you can’t do it all yourself. Recognizing, appreciating, and trusting the strengths of those around you is key. For example, I’m not a “tech person,” so it was crucial for me to rely on our IT team for things like data mapping and file imports.
Organization and communication.
There are so many moving parts to a large scale implementation making it critical to remain organized and communicate clearly. For our most recent move to Handshake, we identified one or two members from each team in our office to create a project management team. This team, which met twice weekly, served as advocates and coordinators for their teams. This gave everyone in our office clarity on who to approach with issues or concerns.
Structurally, we set up meetings and phone calls months in advance to ensure the wheels of the project kept moving. We had an internal communications document to keep track of challenges and successes. When facilitating the project management team, I also found it key to create collaborative agendas for each meeting and call, to keep things moving.
Balance positivity and realism.
Let’s face it, with any big change, challenges will arise. So, I’ve found that balancing positivity and realism is the best policy. When communicating issues you owe it to yourself and your team to give them realistic expectations. At the same time, maintaining a positive outlook on solutions and moving forward helps keep momentum.
Getting everyone on board.
Change can be overwhelming for some! If your team isn’t on board with the change, it can lead to negative feelings. From the get-go it is important for everyone involved to see the value of the change and how important they are to the overall success. We got team members on board by throwing a kickoff party during which we outlined why and how we were going to implement change. During this party, we assured staff that they were crucial to the success of the project.
There you have it – humble tips from someone who has been through big technology changes at a few different offices. Do you have an upcoming change? I’d love to hear about it – tweet me at @Sara_L_Greene!
This post is part of our #SACareer series, addressing careers in student affairs, careers outside of student affairs, and the work of career services professionals. Read more about the series in Jake Nelko’s intro post. Each post is a contribution by a member or friend of the Commission for Career Services from ACPA. Our organization exists to benefit the careers of career services professionals, student affairs professionals, and anyone supporting students in the career endeavors. For more information about how to get involved with the Commission for Career Services or the #SACareer blog series, contact Cristina Lawson at email@example.com.