Planning for Faculty Tech

If you’re thinking of switching to a digital platform for managing faculty journeys and/or review, promotion, and tenure processes at your institution, the time to act is now.

With the spring semester around the corner, institutions can benefit from making their academic technology decisions sooner rather than later. Many institutions’ main faculty review cycles begin in the fall, so it is wise to plan ahead now to have faculty comfortable with a new platform well before the deadlines.

To help institutions formulate their plan for seamlessly implementing new platforms, Interfolio experts shared change management tips during our December 2020 webinar — Planning for New Faculty Technology: Change Management and Best Practices.

Of course, institutions could instead decide, halfway into 2021, to introduce a major new platform and then scramble to implement it in a short amount of time. Sound familiar?

But we’re guessing that, after the year you’ve had in 2020, most institutions would welcome a more deliberate and less frenetic roll-out of new technology in 2021.

So, as all of us look forward to a new semester, here are some tips and a timeline for implementing Interfolio’s Faculty Lifecycle and/or Review, Promotion & Tenure modules:

1. Follow a structured implementation process

Institutions should follow these four steps in implementing new platforms:

  1. Plan how to manage the change to the new platform. 
  2. Inform stakeholders of the planned changes and the advantages of the new platform, obtaining their buy-in.
  3. Train the trainers, who then train members of their department or school.
  4. Deploy the technology platform and establish a group to support faculty and administrators and to maximize the platform’s value and uses.

Each of these four steps, of course, involves additional considerations that the webinar covered in detail. But Interfolio Project Manager Josh Gianitsis emphasized one particular strategy for Step 2 that is critical if your institution is to have a successful roll-out:

2. Introduce stakeholders to the change early on 

The most important step in managing the change to new faculty technology, Josh explained, is introducing the various stakeholders to the planned change at the outset of implementing the change.

In doing so, the institution should explain how the new system will work and the positive impact it will have. Helping faculty and other stakeholders envision this positive future state will make it easier for them to accept the challenges of learning a new system.

3. Focus on winning over change agents and pragmatists

In any given population that is facing change, 20 percent of the people will embrace change (these are the change agents), 50 percent are pragmatists who will adopt a wait-and-see stance, and 30 percent will resist change.

“You want to target a lot of your communication and efforts on the change agents and pragmatists,” Josh advised. “Because at the end of that, you’re going to have 70% of your stakeholder population happy with the change. And that 70% voice can really break down the resistance of the last 30%, helping push that group to engage with the system and the new process.”

For other best practices relating to communicating with different stakeholders, including the key questions you should be prepared to answer, you can listen to the webinar here.

4. Approach training as an ongoing process

Although there is an initial phase of training for all new users of a platform, institutions should develop a program for ongoing training.

“Training is not a one and done,” Josh said. “You always want to think about who you need to train, how to train that specific group, and when you need to train them.”

For example, new staff that come on board after the technology has been implemented will have to be trained on the platform. Likewise, when the platform adds a new feature, it would be beneficial to provide additional training to the community of users.

In addition to the training support your institution offers, Interfolio provides a number of resources to support and train end users, including help desk support, on-demand videos and training webinars, and Interfolio University.

5. Create a governance team to maximize the value of your investment

Even after you’ve successfully implemented new platforms, you should establish a governance committee that reviews feedback on the technology, addresses any usability or training issues, and explores potential new uses of the platform.

Committee members could include staff from faculty affairs, a software administrator, and representatives from different schools or departments. The governance committee could also evaluate new product features and coordinate with Interfolio on product updates. 

A timeline for implementing Interfolio Lifecycle Management and Review, Promotion & Tenure in 2021

If institutions begin in January 2021, they can successfully manage the implementation of at least two Interfolio modules during the Spring and Fall semesters of 2021.

If you’re interested in planning ahead and setting your institution up for a successful, carefully choreographed platform roll-out in 2021, contact us so we can begin planning and collaborating.

We also invite you to watch the full webinar, which includes additional tips for successfully managing technology change, a demonstration of Interfolio’s Lifecycle Management and Review, Promotion & Tenure modules, and discussion of how these modules can integrate with other systems. In addition, we present more suggestions about change management in our Managing Change When Implementing Faculty Technology white paper and in our Change Management Guide.

In the meantime, we hope you have a restful end of the year and look forward to helping your institution achieve new efficiencies and capabilities in 2021 and beyond.