Often times because someone uses the word “software” to title a project it is easily assumed the IT department will be managing this effort. If that person from IT does not understand the agency from front to back and has plenty of subject matter expertise, it’s a mistake to make them the project manager.
It is vitally important that whoever is designing and managing the implementation understands how the agency works, not just how they use technology.
For the most part, true IT people typically don’t deal in the day to day operations of what case workers do and how executives need information at their fingertips. So what can happen is they go from department to department with each person asking for certain requirements and without knowing the global view of the organization they end up having contradictory requirements gathered.
The tasks are submitted, development happens and then when the users start trying to test the new software many are disappointed that they are altogether not what they need. This requires going back to the drawing board and often the result is double work, hence double billing, to get to the right end result. It wastes agency resources and takes much longer to get to a productive system- giving you a much longer return on investment.
Another problem with this mistake is that some users that are already hesitant to adopt a new system become jaded and even more reluctant to “trust” that a new system is going to eventually be a positive experience. Change management among users can be a very costly thing and any chance that it could be a problem should be avoided at all costs.
The ideal situation is to have a project manager that fully understands the mission and processes of the organization. Typically a social worker with plenty of experience that can follow the business process and create the overall design of the system is ideal.
If you cannot dedicate that person to the project you need to, at minimum, have them doing at least the final sign off before any work begins. This will keep your organization from wasting money on work that isn’t necessary or accurate.
If you'd like more information about implementing your next project - we encourage you to grab a copy of our Special Report: The 7 Deadly Sins of Software Implementations - to help you avoid the pitfalls!