Beyond Implementation: How to Navigate Your Digital Transformation After Going Live

Ensure the success of your project by managing expectations, communicating frequently, and embracing the notion of continuous recalibration.

By Daniella Canada, Director of Implementations, Impexium

Associations often view implementation as the final stop on their digital transformation voyage, but in reality, it’s more comparable to a launch pad. And how you navigate your AMS after blasting off makes all the difference in your mission’s success.

In other words, associations must continue to embrace change after they’ve implemented new technology. Modern, cloud-based AMS technologies continually evolve through updates, patches, and integrations, allowing associations to regularly improve processes in accordance with emerging needs.

“Get into the habit of identifying opportunities to improve your AMS from the time people begin to use it,” said Greg Amdur, Senior Vice President, Customer Success & Strategic Programs at Impexium. “You might get 85 percent of the way there by the completion of the implementation stage, but there’s always that next 15 percent—that recalibration and optimization that has to happen continually, particularly in an environment where the software is continually evolving.”

Associations will need to dodge some obstacles along the way, the first and foremost being a lack of executive partnership. When undergoing a transformational business event such as implementing a new AMS, a certain level of resistance to change is to be expected—and sometimes, it’s a formidable hurdle.

“Getting buy-in from leadership and stakeholders across every department early in the process is crucial to a successful implementation—but it’s also essential for setting the right expectations post-implementation,” Amdur said. “Communicate why regularly reviewing, and potentially overhauling, business procedures via technology is necessary, and describe what will happen if the organization doesn’t change.”

In addition to resistance, another common post-launch obstacle is fear among staff that technology will render their jobs obsolete.

“Employees may perceive new technology as a personal threat if they don’t fully understand the benefits of adopting it,” Amdur said. “This ties back to the importance of executive sponsorship in the post-launch environment. Employees should understand how the new technology will impact them enterprise-wide, department-wide, and individually.”

Post-Implementation Steering Teams

Top-down communication pairs well with support from peer-based implementation teams, said Achurch Consulting Founder and CEO Rebecca Achurch, who helps ensure organizations enjoy a positive return on their technology investments.

“Build a peer group to manage expectations and enlighten your association to internal dependencies and downstream effects of the changes you’re making,” Achurch said. “Leading up to implementation, people are good about having those conversations, but they’re equally important after implementation.”

Define the roles and responsibilities of individuals on your steering committee, and continue investing in staff training and development programs.

“We are committed to the power-user framework, where we identify and upskill stakeholders to represent the organization as subject matter experts in a set of functional areas,” Amdur said. “They are involved in the design and implementation process and drive refinements and innovation in the post-implementation stage as they get feedback from staff.”

Facilitate ongoing conversations between power users in different departments to ensure a shared understanding of best practices, roadblocks, and capabilities. “You will be in a state of continuous improvement, balancing small, medium, and large changes,” Achurch said. “That is a real paradigm shift for associations.”

Employ post-implementation incentives to make the process more palatable and evangelize the “why” behind your association’s digital transformation efforts. Be sure to align technical capabilities with strategic business initiatives and objectives, whether that means increasing your revenue programs, reducing operational costs, or streamlining processes.

“Painting a clear picture can go a long way in generating that enthusiasm and continuous buy-in, as does reiterating the system’s benefits through rewards and recognition,” Amdur said. “At the same time, it’s important to identify areas in which users are not adopting the system and put proactive measures in place to get those users back on track.”

From there, ensure each new employee understands the importance of using the technology from the start—even as early as in the job description. Achurch recommends providing training via bite-sized instructional videos management can easily update as the technology changes.

Common Misconceptions

Viewing implementation as the end goal is a common misconception within the digital transformation process, but it’s far from the only one. For example, many leaders forget to engage their membership base post-implementation.

“Implement a cohort of members to serve as an external advisory board and demonstrate to the community how the use of the technology is positively impacting their experience,” Amdur said. “These boards can facilitate peer-to-peer sessions virtually via webinars or in person during user conferences. From a strategy standpoint, generating advocacy within the customer or member base is one of the most impactful things that associations can do.”

According to Achurch, another mistake associations make is limiting technology budgets to the early implementation stage. “We recommend associations budget for a full year post-implementation to cover features you missed, requirements you forgot about, and emerging needs,” she said.

Finally, don’t forget that the right partnership with the right provider goes a long way. “Does your provider offer post-implementation capabilities, and to what extent? They should have a proven track record in helping create change management plans before go-live,” Amdur said.

To learn more about how Impexium’s Association Management Solution (AMS) empowers associations to innovate easily, do more with data, and expand possibilities, request a demo.

(Handout photo)