In May 2017, I was approached about being the coordinator for Mercer University’s transition to a new job recruitment platform. What I later learned is I had 58 days to make this transition happen.
At eight months post implementation, I can share that not only was the process educational, but also extremely successful. I offer to you my six steps for success.
Choose your Implementation Team Wisely
Our implementation team was comprised of two individuals: myself and a representative from the university IT department. While we did not intend to keep the team small, this minimal structure worked. Being given the full authority by my department to make the necessary calls and decisions, I used my autonomy to guide our institution through each step of the process without having to gather or consult with a larger group. This alone allowed our department to meet the aggressive deadline.
Set a Clear Timeline
Essential to success was a clear timeline that was developed in the first week. We developed our timeline with guidance from our new vendor and then communicated heavily with university stakeholders. Updates were provided at each phase of the process and there was a single point person for questions and concerns.
Make a list of all your stakeholders and understand how and what you need to communicate. Our list of stakeholders included students, employers, faculty, administration, staff, and alumni. I found it effective to communicate on a weekly basis with specific stakeholders depending on our phase in the process. A clear communication plan will guide a smoother transition. Whatever communication you were planning, double its frequency.
Over-Save The Data from your Older System
You will never know fully what data you need until it is gone. I suggest running reports in your old system and save them to a specific location on your computer, even if you think the data is already saved elsewhere. We found it helpful to run reports on students and employer engagement for the past three to five years. What we wished we had done was run one last attendance and registration report for every career fair for that same time frame. Over-save!
Prepare for Resistance
There is no doubt about it, change is hard. Prepare for resistance, fear, and trepidation as you start to engage with your stakeholders, especially departmental staff. Use your enthusiasm to teach others and understand that it takes time.
Train Your Staff
Find fun and creative ways to get the information to your team. In addition to in-person training at our monthly staff meetings, I prepared online video conferences to help fill in the holes. I was always available to jump on a screen share to trouble shoot and when the stock training materials didn’t work, I created my own.
I didn’t accomplish this transition by myself. I relied heavily on those already using the product for their expertise and guidance. Should you find yourself in a period of transition in the near future, know that I am willing to be a resource for you and hope that my lessons learned help to make your experience an enjoyable one.
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 Paige Erhart at firstname.lastname@example.org.