- Harness ‘people power’
- Other change management strategies
The purpose of this section of the guidelines is to discuss ways of obtaining staff acceptance of digitisation and digital images produced in business process and back-capture digitisation programs.
One of the common reasons that programs fail to be entirely successful is that the ‘people factor’ is overlooked.
Digitisation programs involve change. Depending on the organisation, you may need to entirely reengineer the way that staff members are handling information to integrate digitisation into the process. You may be replacing commonly understood practices with entirely new ones. Entrenched organisational cultures may need to be shifted. At the very least, your long term outcomes for digitisation will result in some short term disruption to established work routines and staff duties.
In some cases, the change may result in short term, limited disruptions.
Older, infrequently used records are unavailable for short periods of time.
Staff members involved in projects have altered duties for a few months while digitisation occurs.
In other cases, the change may be more widespread and involve many staff within an organisation.
Projects may involve current, high use records where turn-around time is very important.
Staff will need to understand how to access and use digital images in future business transactions.
Back-capture projects may be happening in conjunction with business process digitisation programs where processes have been reengineered to become digital. These changes may impact on a number of staff across different organisational units.
With any change it is important to proactively consider change management needs as part of project planning.
Below are some suggestions about how to encourage organisational acceptance of digitisation. Depending on the size of your program and resources available, you may be able to incorporate some or all of these into your program.
Much acceptance of change can be achieved by harnessing the right people in your organisation.
Digitisation programs require careful planning and management and consideration of a number of factors from technical needs through to people management. Their success may well rest of the quality of the team driving the initiative.
The implementation team need to be committed and engaged. Some team members need to be technically proficient, but some should also have strong skills in project management and people management. See Staffing the digitisation program for more information.
To win support, team members must be able to negotiate with staff and adapt the technology and service platforms so that the solutions in each business unit are flexible and tailored to the needs of their particular business.
Senior management support
It is important to secure senior management support for your program. It is not enough to have them sign off on your business case. Ideally, they should have ongoing engagement with the program and act as sponsors who advocate the change and articulate its value to the organisation. Ways you can achieve this are by demonstrating the software and hardware and what it can achieve, reporting to them regarding early ‘wins’ and remaining transparent and outcomes focused.
Business unit manager support
It is commonly overlooked that real organisational change is highly dependent on the support of business unit managers. They are the ones who effectively manage and monitor day-to-day operations within their units. If you ‘win over’ these people they can become advocates within their units and bring about real change. You may choose to individually target these managers and discuss and demonstrate potential outcomes in terms of business efficiencies that can be gained.
Most business units will have staff champions – those staff members who can see what you are trying to achieve and are actively willing to support it. It is valuable to harness the support of these champions. If they have the technical ability, they may well become the unit experts in digitisation and manipulating documents on screen and they can help others who are struggling or find innovative ways to improve the process.
Preparation, communication and understanding can help to ensure cultural readiness for digitisation and ease the transition to new modes of business. Some suggested strategies are outlined below.
Don’t roll out all at once - consider a pilot or staged approach
Your organisation may consider the value of a staged approach to digitisation.
When the Department of Education and Communities introduced a digitisation pilot for their human resource management records, resourcing issues and work schedules meant that they were unable to introduce it in one ‘big bang.’ They introduced a pilot in one State Office, then gradually rolled out to other State Offices.
In retrospect the implementation team agreed that the staged roll out was actually a blessing. It enabled them to develop, test and refine their approaches for each area and adapt them to their particular practices and needs. It also put much less pressure on the implementation team and help desk support enabling them to immediately address any problems that arose.
Housing NSW conducted a pilot project in order to test and refine their approaches and specifications for outsourcing digitisation. They gained invaluable experience from the pilot that then assisted them to streamline procedures before embarking on other projects across the agency.
It is important to communicate regularly with staff at all levels to ensure that the digitisation program obtains and retains support and acceptance.
Discussions with senior management should begin during the preparation and presentation of the business case. Once approved, the implementation team should consider communication strategies for all affected staff in the organisation.
The way digitisation is presented should be examined. Consider each target group and communicate to them in terms of ‘what’s in it for me?’
The average staff member may be influenced by demonstrating how digitisation can help them to do the same things in a better, more efficient way and how adding metadata can make it easier to find things again. Digitisation can also enable information to become more mobile e.g. accessible via smartphones and tablets.
Managers may be influenced by the opportunity to re-examine the business, make processes more sustainable, protect the organisation’s most important data and intellectual property and place the organisation in a more competitive position.
Simple misconceptions can be removed easily with communication and may prevent some staff members from sabotaging your program.
One organisation reported that some staff members were fearful of digitisation because they believed they would be replaced by the technology. With clear and open communication they began to see that it was not threatening but would actually assist them to perform their roles more efficiently.
In another organisation some staff members were resistant to digitising a group of records and destroying the original paper records, as they might be needed in court at a future date. Implementation team members explained the legislation in NSW which allows for the admissibility of a copy in court in place of the original (Electronic Transactions Act, Evidence Act) and the destruction of the originals under certain circumstances (State Records Act). They also discussed how they had chosen stringent technical and metadata specifications and storage solutions and ensured the program was adequately managed and documented so that the images could be regarded as credible evidence in court.
See Disposal of original paper records after digitisation and Legal admissibility of digital records for more information.
Involve staff in the process
Another means of gaining user support and achieving program aims is to build relationships with them and involve staff in discussions on how their work processes will change with the introduction of digitisation. The reality is that the people who know most about a business process (or parts of a process) and what changes are possible and how they might work are the staff performing the process already. If their views are taken into account and they feel that they have been able to influence the nature of the change, they may be more inclined to accept it.
The Department of Education and Communities conducted a needs analysis at the start of each phase of their rollout. They talked to staff about their part in the business process, how this contributed to the larger process, where records needed to be captured and the titling and access rules required.
On many occasions since they have had staff members actively suggesting changes that can be made to improve the process and make it consistent with other processes in the organisation.
The Council of the City of Sydney identified 5 business units that would be affected by their back-capture digitisation project and efforts to introduce digital methods of business. Cross functional meetings were held to achieve corporate understanding of the end-to-end process. All business units affected were involved in the solution design and testing and contributed their knowledge of existing processes and associated risks. Key staff were nominated to contribute to a working group.
Note: Ensure that you involve staff members at times that are convenient to them and their managers to ensure that their workloads are not negatively affected.
Address problems immediately
Always bear in mind that, after the initial inevitable disruption, digitisation should make staff members’ jobs easier not harder. If problems occur, make sure staff feel comfortable to raise them and remedy them as quickly as you can.
If you expect staff to use digital images instead of paper, don’t accept technical infrastructure problems that mean it takes 15 minutes to open each image.
4.4.5 Offer plenty of training and support
Many staff members will not have encountered digitisation before. They will be unfamiliar with both the technology and the new processes. It is important to arm staff members with the appropriate tools to manage the change. Therefore your organisation may need to invest in training programs.
Different kinds of training will be needed according to the roles and responsibilities of staff.
Implementation team members and support staff will require the most extensive training and support.
Staff who are actually performing digitisation and/or quality assurance will require technical training as well as instructions on processes to follow.
The average staff members who are not digitising but will be using the digital images as part of their business may also require some training.
Ideally training should be tailored to different levels of knowledge and technical ability and kept as simple as possible. Some vendors will offer technical training as part of their contracts but this must be delivered in relation to any procedural changes.
Other forms of support for staff should be implemented to smooth the transition to the new practices.
You could provide simple procedures to scanner operators (e.g. with screen shots) to help them remember the process.
You could establish a 'help desk' or provide support staff to respond to questions and fix problems.
You could establish a ‘help desk’ or provide support staff to respond to questions and fix problems.
Keep the momentum going
The changes brought about by digitisation need to be organisation wide to bring real benefits. Over time, staff may revert to earlier practices or find work-arounds that are not in the organisation’s best interests.
Some organisations have reported that over time staff start creating paper records or keep copies of the digital images in paper on their desks because they don’t trust the digital images.
Some organisations have found that staff print out the digital images, write on the paper versions and rescan.
Your organisation should be prepared for this and have ways to prevent, monitor and address these behaviours.
 North Carolina, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online, Digitisation guidelines, Chapter 10: Project management, available at: North Carolina, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online, Digitisation guidelines, Chapter 10: Project management;