When an aged care provider implements a software system, there are often a set of IT champions that help drive the decision making, implementation, training and support process. These staff members are an invaluable source of expertise for an organisation, but what happens when they leave? Without thorough handovers and a strong vendor relationship, a knowledge gap can lead to software systems being used ineffectively. With an average staff turnover of 25% annually, it is important that aged care providers protect their software investment from staffing changes by implementing a set of internal handover strategies.
Why IT champions matter
There are often individuals in an organisation that staff refer to when they have a question regarding a software system. This may be a manager, an IT worker or a system savvy colleague. These staff members ensure the software is being utilised effectively, and can be called upon if there is a problem. IT champions often work closely with the software vendor, and can liaise between the vendor and the wider staff base. It is essential that all aged care providers using software systems utilise these individuals effectively and have documented succession strategies in place.
Consequences of ineffective handovers
Knowledge gaps form
When an IT champion retires or moves on from the organisation, there are often many unforeseen consequences. There can be unanswered questions, confusion around which staff member to seek advice from, or which software vendor employee to contact. This gap in product knowledge can also lead to an organisation using a software system ineffectively.
Poor habits develop
When a new person is trained by a staff member with software knowledge gaps, poor practices can be passed throughout the organisation. This can create dissatisfaction with the product, as staff do not understand how to use the system to its best advantage.
Diminished return on investment
Effective software systems can help aged care providers to create efficiencies and deliver high quality care. However, if staff do not have an adequate understanding of how to use the software, they can become frustrated or dissatisfied with the product. Once dissatisfied, staff may revert to paper based processes, meaning providers no longer receive their desired return on investment.
Lack of understanding
If internal decision makers leave an organisation, so can the knowledge around why a software vendor was chosen. Without this information, management may not appreciate the factors that influenced the decision; such as long term costs, support levels and functionality.
Shared knowledge strategies
To ensure product knowledge is shared appropriately throughout the organisation, there are a number of steps aged care providers can take:
Staff turnover is inevitable. By partnering with a software vendor that has a strong client focus, providers can ensure their organisation will be supported during times of change. Introducing the software vendor contact to the new internal contact during the handover process will enable a smooth transition. This will result in the relationship being established while the previous internal contact is still available to assist.
It is essential that more than one staff member is the source of knowledge when it comes to a software system. This applies to all levels of the organisation; from the decision makers who went through the initial selection process, through to the care staff and nurses that use the system daily. If one of these key knowledge sources leaves the organisation without passing on their information, there can be significant consequences. By encouraging the sharing of information and by having thorough documentation in place, providers can ensure product knowledge is not lost.
It can be helpful to have a documented handover strategy that can be rolled out when an IT champion plans to leave an organisation. This process will ensure that software knowledge and documentation can be passed on to a relevant staff member in a timely and reliable manner.
If many staff members that received training during the implementation process have now left the organisation, it may be appropriate to consider booking additional training sessions. Your software partner can help you determine the level and amount of training that will suit your organisation.
Can you think of other ways to help protect your software investment from staffing changes? Comment below to join our conversation.
Tags: aged care, aged care software, change management, home care, iCareHealth software, residential aged care, residential aged care solution, software, software provider, technology, training, workforce, workforce development