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Technology management: correct computer introductions.

The pervasive fascination with technology won't ensure that your staff will eagerly log on to your new computer system. For acceptance and success during a computer conversion, involve everyone in the planning process, and follow up implementation with proper training. Here are conversion tips from three executives who have been there and who told their stories at an ASAE roundtable in Washington, D.C., in July.

Beth Burnette, executive vice president, Krajewski & Associates, Inc., Frederick, Maryland:

* Ask staff to pinpoint problems with the old system and needs for the new one, and let them help evaluate vendors.

* Be realistic about goals and time lines for choosing vendors, installing the system, and seeing results from training. Allow time for staff to become proficient in one aspect of the system before being trained and expected to move on to another.

* Listen to employees' fears about converting to a new system, and help employees overcome these fears. Employees may be afraid, for example, that they'll be expected to immediately perform as proficiently on the new system as they did on the old one.

* Say thank you. Show appreciation to staff for their input and support during the conversion process by thanking them at the end. Once the system is up and running, throw a party.

Lois Schoebrun, deputy executive director, American Medical Women's Association, Alexandria, Virginia:

* Find out the top one or two concerns among the management team and address those first. This gives managers an early feeling of success, which is important to their buy-in to the conversion.

* Be clear about the decision process. State up front who will be making the ultimate decisions.

* Find multiple ways to keep staff informed during the conversion. Talk to staff individually or in small-group meetings and solicit questions or concerns. You might also develop a newsletter devoted to the new system.

Jeffrey Morgan, vice president of information systems, National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, Alexandria, Virginia:

* Treat users as consumers. Refocus the information systems staff to address the needs of the rest of the staff the way consumer needs would be handled. This refocusing can include such steps as establishing a help line. When that phone rings, everything should stop; staff problems with the computer should be addressed as quickly as any member problem would be.

* Develop excellent training. Ask your education department to train the information systems staff in training techniques. Then set up formal classes. In addition, run classes for the information systems staff to keep them updated on software developments. Also, create a comprehensive computer user reference guide that covers every basic function.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society of Association Executives
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Title Annotation:News & Know-How
Publication:Association Management
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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