The Pros and Cons of a Technology Pilot Program
By Jason Yu on July 23, 2015
The transition to grant management software can be a bit intimidating, and sometimes cause unwanted uncertainty throughout your organization.
Although new technology can increase overall grant management quality, it may be difficult to get everyone on board and properly using the system at first. A pilot program allows you to test the software with a sample group before making the big plunge.
Wondering if a technology pilot program is the best fit for your organization? Outlined below are pilot program pros, cons and tips to succeed.
Pilot programs are a great way to experiment with new programs. In doing so, you can identify implementation challenges early, allowing larger-scale adoption to run more smoothly. Overcome future problems by:
- Documenting lessons learned.
- Testing the effectiveness of your planned process.
- Uncovering hiccups that slow down tasks.
This saves time and money. By working out problems on a much smaller spectrum, you can avoid wasting resources in the long run due to inefficiencies.
A pilot program can also help build a network of technology supporters. Employees that participate in the pilot have the chance to see first hand the software’s value. These individuals can then become your internal advocates, helping sell the idea to others, answer end-user questions and more.
Pilot program results and data can also be leveraged to garner support. Gauge overall effectiveness by comparing performance with the technology to more traditional methods, and then share these results with your team.
A pilot program may signal a sense of doubt in the technology to employees. Be careful how the project is branded, and proactively communicate to employees the need and benefits of testing.
To eliminate confusion, you also may have to establish new processes during the pilot program period. Since some employees will be using the new technology while others historical processes, there is the potential for data and information to get mixed up in translation.
Evaluating Your Options
Before diving into a pilot program, make sure this is the best option for your organization. Ask yourself:
- Do my employees understand the value of the software we want to implement? If your employees do not, a pilot program is a good way to show what the technology has to offer.
- Do we have a logical group of employees willing to test the program? For a pilot program to be successful, you must have a dedicated testing group.
- How immediate is the need for change and results? A pilot program will add a minimum of three to six months before organization-wide rollout. Consider your timeframe carefully before making a decision.
- Is my organization large enough to need a pilot program? If your organization is small, a pilot program may not be needed. At larger organizations, however, they allow a portion of employees to test and analyze instead of everyone at once.
- Will a pilot program be more beneficial than time-consuming? Overall, you must consider if a pilot program is going to save resources in the long run. Evaluate the effort that will go into testing against the value those tests could create to make sure you are not wasting unnecessary time.
Tips to Succeed
If you have weighed the pros and cons of a pilot program and find it is the right fit for your organization, follow these steps to ensure ultimate success:
- Define your organization and employee’s specific accomplishments and goals.
- Select individual employees to test the system before implementing the program across the entire organization.
- Provide an open communication forum for employees and participants to provide in-depth feedback.
For more information on how to properly implement a technology pilot program, see our guide, Change Management: Adopt and Implement Grant Management Software.