Software Purchase Process
Creating positive relationships with stakeholders is the single greatest key to successful technology purchase and implementation. While the process of evaluating and buying research compliance software is not exciting to most people involved, the process can effectively build long-term fruitful relationships with administrators, researchers, and co-workers. This helps to ensure that implementation and follow-up procedures flow smoothly and efficiently. Below is a look at the key stakeholders involved in the buying process and some tips to forging lasting relationships with each.
Emphasize Efficiency and Results to Administrators
When reviewing a new technology, top concerns for an organization’s administrator will focus on optimizing efficiency and elevating the organization to a higher level of performance. Surpassing goals and maintaining a competitive edge are primary considerations for administrators. Tips to building relationships with administrators therefore include the following:
- Ask administrators about their specific goals for the upcoming year
- Explain how maintaining quality assurance in grants management is tied to research subject protections and compliance information
- Explain how a more efficient workflow can lead to faster grants payments and higher employee productivity
- Style tip: Administrators are busy, so keep communication respectful and succinct
Stress Cost Savings to Collegiate Deans
Deans are focused almost exclusively on managing collegiate planning and budgets. They are also focused on public service and economic development for their respective colleges. The following tips will help you forge a solid relationship with deans and department heads:
- Highlight the ways in which a relatively small investment in technology will produce long-term economic gains – again, more efficient compliance impacts efficiency and quality assurance in grants management.
- Give concrete financial examples of how the technology has elevated research and compliance at comparable institutions. A software vendor should be able to readily supply references from comparable institutions.
- Discuss the current workload of your IRB (or IACUC or IBC) and what having an efficient system will mean for them.
- Style tip: Be as specific as possible and summarize results in dollars and cents
Focus on Instilling Confidence in a Chief Information Officer (CIO) or IT Director
Building a sound relationship with CIOs is critical to achieving a smooth buying process and seamless implementation. Employees from every department often look to an organization’s CIO and IT team members for cues on how to respond to new technology. If the CIO displays confidence in a new technology, his or her colleagues will often follow in their footsteps. Here are some suggestions to starting off on the right foot with an organization’s CIO or IT manager:
- Stress specific examples of the operational efficiency that the technology will bring
- Discuss the system’s reliability and the rigorous testing to which the technology was exposed
- Be specific about the vendor’s anticipated time commitment needed from IT staff during implementation
- Cite the availability of vendor support if problems happen to arise
- Style tip: Earn a CIO’s trust immediately by being brutally honest about the pros and cons of the technology
Do Not Forget About Researchers - The Most Critical Stakeholders of All
A compliance system cannot succeed or thrive without satisfied customers. After all, one of the primary reasons why an organization invests in a new compliance technology is to help – and possibly attract - researchers. However, failure to communicate properly with these stakeholders during a new technology implementation can lead to frustration and abandonment. Below are some strategies that will help you maintain a strong relationship with researchers (and your board members) during a technology implementation:
- Provide reassurance by stressing the user-friendly, intuitive nature of the technology
- When glitches arise, explain that they are temporary and offer an estimated timeframe for addressing them
- Tell them how the new technology will benefit them.
- Style tip: Be transparent. Explain that new technology is being implemented which will soon lead to an improved experience
Clearly, buying and implementing new technology is a process that requires patience and effort on behalf of all parties involved. By focusing on forging solid relationships with key stakeholders, you will build trust in the technology and lay the foundation for a successful implementation.