How To Convince Your School Board To Use Boarding Management Software
July 10, 2017
So you’re feeling pretty good…Why?Because you FINALLY found a boarding management tool that’s going to transform your life.(Hint: It’s Boardingware)Now all you have to do is… Convince your IT department, finance manager and the rest of your senior leadership team to hop onboard.But there’s a problem. They’re tough to convince.Tough because it’s hard for them to understand why you need a system like this in the first place. As far as they're concerned, your current management tools are working "just fine" (when in reality, the status-quo is costing you more than you think).Boarding management software is still a new concept for many people. So it’s your job to clearly communicate how bad your problems really are and explain how a new boarding management system will be able to provide you with incredible benefits.But that’s easier said than done when they’re…Change-averse.Afraid of technology.“Don’t have time”.Whatever your situation is, you’ve probably got a TOUGH sell ahead of you.BUT luckily for you, the team here at Boardingware has decided to help you out.After working with REAL customers who’ve also struggled to convince their boards......we’ve put together a step-by-step guide (AND a proposal starter kit for you to download) that’s going to help you to convince your board to give you the green light.Let's dive right in.
Part 1: Define Your Objectives
Before you go ahead and start telling everyone about this awesome new tool, you first need to make sure they understand your context. They need to know why you need a tool like this and what problems it’ll solve before they can truly understand it’s true value.
Step 1: Identify your biggest challenges
Take the time to clearly define your primary challenges in boarding. Do you need better accountability of where your students are? A more efficient process for managing leave? A more secure way to organise your pastoral information?While these challenges may seem obvious to you, other members of your board or senior leadership team may struggle to see them in the same way. Why? Because they simply don’t live in the daily boarding grind like you do.Making sure your board truly understands your primary needs is an important first step that will help you to build a strong case in your presentation later on.
Step 2: Look at your existing processes and identify critical gaps
Now it’s time to evaluate your current boarding processes and clearly identify your core problems.Record a detailed description of your current practices and highlight all of your problem areas. Be thorough and try to include specific details where possible (ie. it takes 5 hours to process leave requests)Then create a list of all the things you need but can’t do with your existing systems and rank them in order of urgency. This will be help you to communicate exactly what is missing and what is needed from a new system.
Part 2: Become the Expert
When you go to present a new technology product to your key decision makers, there’s a very high chance that there will be some pushback and resistance.And if you can’t provide answers or solutions to their questions, then it gives them an excuse to walk straight out the door and bring your project to a halt before it even got started.That’s why you need to become the expert. So you can equip yourself with all the data, facts and proof to backup your proposal.
Step 1: Do your research
Once you have a clear handle on what you’re trying to achieve, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the new concept of boarding technology and understand the capabilities and limitations of the tools available to you.Check out our free crash-course on boarding technology for a quick introduction.Spend some time researching the websites of potential vendors. Subscribe to their blogs and download their resources. Just try to soak up as much information as you can.It can also be especially valuable to search for case studies and articles about other schools that have solved problems similar to the ones you’re facing. If possible, try getting in touch with them to hear about their experiences first hand, or even better, organise a time to visit and see how their system works in a real life scenario.
Step 2: Learn exactly how the product will benefit you
The next step is to understand exactly how the product you're investigating will help you to solve your core problems. You need to learn as much as you can about their features and how they will directly benefit you and your school as a whole.It's important to focus on the core features that will help you to achieve your core objectives. Identify the features that matter to you and pay close attention to the reliability, usability, efficiency and quality of how they work.This is also a good time to get in touch with a member of sales to discuss your needs. Explain your primary challenges and ask them for their insights on your situation.Sales professionals are usually very knowledgeable with their industry and are used to addressing objectives so they’ll probably have good resources and data you can use to build your own proposal. Some might even help you build a proposal for your school.Set up an appointment or call. Prepare a list of questions. Be ready to give them extensive context on how your boarding processes operate and what you hope to achieve by implementing a new boarding management system.Furthermore, if you’re comparing multiple software systems, this is also a chance to get an idea of the level of support you can expect to receive from each company. The more helpful and knowledgeable their sales staff are, the more likely they are to be supportive and available once you’re a paying customer.
Part 3: Convince your board
It’s time to bring it all together. You’ve defined your objectives. Done your research. Educated yourself on your options and now it’s time to pitch this to your board.
Step 1: Convert some allies
Before pitching this to your entire board, try introducing the idea to a number of boarding staff first. Converting people that will use the system early on will help to validate and generate some support for your proposal.
Step 2: Think about your audience
When planning your pitch. It’s important to consider who will be required to sign-off during the decision making process and articulate your message to appeal to their concerns.For instance, you might want to calculate the potential return-on-investment to convince your finance manager to allow for more room in the budget…Or print off a feature and functionality checklist to give to your Director of Technology...Or present some case studies to demonstrate the proof of concept to your Head of School.Either way, getting your key decision makers engaged and involved early on will help you to accelerate the process and minimise roadblocks and surprises further down the track.
Step 3 - Be prepared for objections
If you’re planning on going into a pitch and just hoping for the best, you might as well just shoot yourself in the foot right now. Even if you think you have a rock solid presentation put together, you still have to prepare yourself to address any concerns, objections and hesitations.So ask yourself, if the responsibility for the final decision was in your hands, what would you have to consider?
- Will your data be safe in the cloud?
- How will your non-techie staff react to this new piece of technology?
- How difficult would it be to implement?
- Will you be able to contact support 24/7?
- Can you integrate with your existing school management system?
Step 4: Build your presentation
Nothing shows that you’ve thought this through more than a well-designed and thoroughly thought out presentation.Creating a slideshow or proposal document to hand-out will help you to construct a clear image of your current system’s shortcomings, powerfully communicate the urgency of your problems and point out the opportunities a new system can provide.To help save you some time and effort, we created a proposal starter kit, packed with templates and resources you can use to help build your own presentation. Click here to download it for free.
Step 5: Make your pitch
Trying to get everyone into the same room is a lot easier said than done. So if you can’t organise a time to suit everyone, try meeting up with separate departments or smaller groups. If that fails try sneaking a quick presentation into the end of your next general meeting.During your pitch, keep the focus on the strategic impact and value of the software you’re pitching. Stay away from the fine details of how the software works and focus more on the big benefits you'll receive.But most of all, be confident. After all the research you’ve done, you should feel well-prepared to answer important questions about budget, implementation, security, benefits and so on.Good luck.
The time and effort is all worth it
It can be difficult to convey the value of a software system, especially boarding management systems that have only recently sprung up, and even more so if you’re explaining the concept to non-techies or veterans that are quite change-averse.But, by clearly defining your objectives, creating a list of critical gaps in your current operations, becoming an expert with new software and putting together a smart presentation to demonstrate its value, you stand a good chance of getting the green light.[marketo-fat form="1107"]