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About to Begin a Technology Project? Start Here…

Shannon Moyes

Business Development Manager – Volanté Systems

Video games, online medical records, virtual dining technology, resident portals, sanitizing and delivering robots – and so much more. Senior living communities have become a hub for technology, dramatically enhancing the quality of life for residents – a demographic that is increasingly adopting a tech-driven lifestyle.

There are technologies that are going to increase the happiness and satisfaction of your residents: better meal plans, more in-room connection tools, and more effective mental and physical stimulation tools.

And then there are tools that are going to help you better manage your community: more efficient records systems, better resident management tools, and streamlined dining equipment.

With all this technology, it is no wonder that some people experience technostress, which includes negative symptoms related to the use or adoption of new technology.

However, in 2020, it has become time to have no (or less) fear of technology. The benefits, more often than not, outweigh the negatives.

The key to avoiding both technostress and a failed technology project is putting the proper tools in place to set the project up for success. Here’s how:

  • Identify the problem(s) that you are trying to solve, and set goals.

As technology sales experts, it is our responsibility to help solve the problems that you are facing. However, we need to know what problems you are trying to solve. Spend some time identifying the core challenges that you’re facing across the community.

Some examples of questions to ask yourself are:

  • Am I trying to reduce manual data entry and get more integrated systems?
  • Am I looking for better customer service, where my wait times are shorter?
  • Are my residents complaining about something consistently that technology could solve?
  • Am I using pen and paper for something that should or could be done on a computer?
  • Is my community secure at handling resident data?
  • Could we make security investments to improve resident peace-of-mind?
  • Are residents selecting a neighbouring community because we lack technology?

These questions often lead you to a few core challenges that you are facing, and are a great place to start when looking for a solution.

Once you identify the problems that need to be solved, you should also set goals that you can use to determine the success of the new solution. Some examples of goals can be:

  • Reducing duplicate data entry by integrating POS with my EHR/EMR
  • Increasing dining sales by implementing in-room ordering
  • Increasing resident happiness by implementing a portal for them to review their balances
  • Improving our security infrastructure through more PCI and security compliant solutions
  • Spending less time on the phone waiting for technical support
  • Getting easier access to reporting data

Your goals can be general, or quantifiable with statistics and measurables. Either way, you’ll want to reference these upon project completion and months down the line to monitor the success of the solution and make improvements, if needed.

  • Include the right stakeholders in your evaluations.

You’ve identified the challenges you are facing. You’ve found a few technology partners that seem, at a high level, to be able to help you. Now, it is time to ensure your needs are met and that you select a good match for you. In order to do this, make sure you include the right stakeholders in your discussions.

Finance has different requirements than dining. Operations has different requirements than IT. Perhaps each of these departments don’t need to be involved in your decision-making, but getting their input on what they may want from the new technology system is critical. Selecting a system only to find out that it doesn’t meet the needs of one of your core operational groups is only going to cause turmoil and dissatisfaction with the solution in the long run.

PSST! If your preferred vendor is out of budget, don’t be afraid to negotiate. If they’re as good of a fit for your operations as you think they are, chances are, they want to work with you as much as you want to work with them.

  • Assign a dedicated Project Manager to carry the project through.

According to Forbes, “54% of IT project failures can be attributed to poor management – while only 3 percent are due to technological problems.” Once you’ve selected your new technology partner, assigning a PM or dedicated resource to the project improves accountability, streamlines communication, and helps maintain timelines.

The technology vendor will likely have a detailed exchange of information that is required from you to set up the new solution – networking infrastructure, records information, meal plan rules, and more – and they want the project to be just as successful as you do.

With one key person on both teams spearheading the initiatives, such as coordinating training, you also reduce the risk of “too many hands in the pot”, which can lead to conflicting or confusing information.

  • Identify dates, expectations and milestones, and maintain open communication.

There will be deadlines to meet with any project. Ensuring clarity on expectations, requirements and milestones is critical to each step of your new technology deployment. Identify these early on, and that way, the Project Managers on both sides can stay on track – especially when there is a large number of stakeholders involved.

You should feel comfortable talking to your new technology vendor openly and honestly about the project process. You are now both engaged in a partnership and will need to work together to ensure success.

Make sure you feel as though they are providing you the level of urgency and responsiveness that you need, and ensure you are reachable, as well.

In addition, your new technology vendor needs to be able to properly explain the project to your team, which is going to include both technical and non-technical team members. Insufficient communication or overcomplication can lead to frustration and confusion, so don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or for assistance disseminating information.

  • Perform regular follow-ups after the project has been implemented.

Your technology partner will likely cover this one, but maintaining an open line of communication will help you stay in the loop about product upgrades, and allow you to provide ongoing feedback about the solution.

There’s no doubt that technology projects are on the horizon for your community. Beneficial innovations are popping up in all directions and for all departments, so being able to properly identify what technology is the right fit for you and successfully implementing it will go a long way.


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