Licensing agencies across the country and across all sectors are operating within constrained resources and ever-increasing and evolving demand –– all while simultaneously trying to keep pace with change as it continues to accelerate. This has brought about the need for agencies to look at how they’re responding to change and whether they have the infrastructure to evolve with it over the long term.
When it comes to adapting and evolving the infrastructure, the natural tendency is to turn to a sleek, new technology that promises increased efficiency, productivity and automation. And in theory, it should make the work of your licensing agencies better and faster, and save valuable time and resources. But all too often, this is not the outcome.
Instead, many teams find themselves with an expensive technology that neglects the unique needs of the agency and the same set of deficiencies that prompted their search for a solution in the first place. Why?
More often than not, it was a failure to properly prepare for a new system rollout. This gap between proper planning and implementation leads to abandonment and a poor return on investment. So, before your agency invests in new tech, here are a few pitfalls to avoid on the path to a successful rollout.
Pitfall #1: Not Putting People At The Center Of It All
It can be tempting to jump straight into the technology selection process –– and most teams do. But there’s actually one thing that’s more important to your success than the technology. Your stakeholders.
Start with your stakeholders—customers, employees and leadership—and ask where they experience the most friction in the licensing process. This is key, but it is often overlooked. In fact, according to a recent report by NASCIO, employees are only involved in innovation initiatives 40% of the time and citizens only 3% of the time. Yet, senior leaders are engaged in nearly 50% of these initiatives.
While leadership involvement is important, internal stakeholders across every department, particularly those on the frontlines using the technology and engaging with customers, are critical to the software selection and buildout process. And, realistically, these stakeholders should be included throughout the entire process—from drafting the RFP all the way through to the testing and implementation stage –– if you want to create a system that truly works for everyone.
Developing a people-first agenda will better equip your agency to meet customer needs and provide the team with the best possible tools to innovate and work more efficiently. Ignore the needs and requirements of your most important people, and you’re likely to see disappointing adoption rates.
Pitfall #2: Designing Around Current Processes
Too often, new technology implementations are designed around existing workflows that have already been proven to be inefficient and ineffective. What tends to happen is manual processes are simply replicated in the new system and automation is applied where possible, but this is a costly mistake.
The end goal of a new system should be greater efficiency and decreased deficiencies. This should be treated as an opportunity to eliminate unnecessary processes. Rather than replicating an already laborious workflow, the smarter strategy is to first gather internal stakeholders prior to developing the RFP to outline and document all workflows. This will help the team identify which steps can be adjusted or omitted outright. Combining automation with the cleanup of manual processes will have a major impact on the success of any new licensing technology.
Additionally, failing to establish any baseline metrics before implementing new licensing technology—like the time it takes to process a request or handle a complaint, for example—your agency will have no way to gauge whether the system is improving business outcomes.
Spending the time to identify the metrics that matter to your agency will also help you uncover areas in need of process improvement. For instance, looking at complaint resolution from the customer’s standpoint and tracking the number of “touch times” per resolution, can help you see what steps can be eliminated or tightened up to alleviate the number of touchpoints and create a better customer experience. This also becomes a good metric for gauging success.
Pitfall #3: Going Overboard On Customization
Customizations are expensive, often unnecessary, and cumbersome to manage, update and maintain. While the idea of a custom-built software is an appealing proposition, it tends to lead to headaches down the road. It takes longer to stand-up in your organization, often costs more than initially scoped, and is difficult to maintain unless your implementation partner stays on to support updates over the long term.
When updates fall behind, the system slowly becomes less functional over time. In an effort to get their jobs done, users will inevitably create workarounds, which either results in technical debt or inefficiencies –– or both. It also leads to a system that is outdated in just a few years after implementation—a major waste of time and money.
Configurable systems offer the best of both the customized and out-of-the-box worlds. Configurable systems save on time and cost by utilizing built-in workflows that can be configured to meet the unique functionality needs of your agency. These are also generally forward-compatible with future releases, and are easier for teams to maintain and update with little to no technical expertise. A big appeal particularly in the licensing industry where even a simple line change on a form can take weeks to update in a complex system. Configurable systems empower the team to make simple changes like these in a matter of minutes, not weeks.
Pitfall #4: Failing To Create A Change Management Plan
People generally don’t like change, and that’s particularly true when it comes to their workflows. But when they’re involved in creating that change, it leads to greater success all around. As such, developing a change management plan starts with your stakeholders.
By involving them from the beginning, they become your steering committee to build a system that truly works for all, and when it comes time for rollout, they’ll become your internal advocates to get others bought-in to adopting the new system. If done correctly, you can use their experience to guide the creation of a training plan and supporting materials.
Just keep in mind: Training is never a one-time event. It’s something that will need to be revisited as updates and new features are available. Training is critical to overall adoption and must be a priority.
Putting people at the center of your agency’s technical decisions will always improve the chances of success. Rather than prioritize the system selection, consider your stakeholders first. Get them actively engaged and this will lead you to the right system for your organization.