If you are not performing this then you may be missing a great opportunity to improve the success of your new fundraising system.
There is really only one way to find out how your staff feels about their new fundraising platform.
Your staff, the people who will actually depend on this new technology to perform their daily work, will need to try it out. This is called User Acceptance Testing or UAT for short. Whether your IT department refers to it as end user testing, beta testing or something else, it is the last phase of the process where everything that was built by internal resources, the software vendor, and consultants is tested in real world conditions. The outcome or goal of the testing is to ensure the systems works, the bugs or problems are discovered and corrected and that the end product is something you and your staff can actually use.
To successfully perform UAT we can break it down into two parts.
This part is called the validation process. Does the system fulfill on the requirements and reflect the design decisions that you or your staff made with the project team? This is can be identified by test scripts (step by step checklist) for your staff to follow that indicates whether it is a critical function (Yes or No) and also indicates the test result (Pass or Fail). These scripts should encompass every part of the system that a user would encounter once the system goes live.
Most of the bugs should be worked out prior to UAT but users might discover some that were overlooked. What the users are really doing is making sure the system delivers what is needed and validating the proper functioning of the system in a real world environment.
This part of the process is called the evaluation process. Is the delivered solution usable and something than can be embraced by your staff? While many may feel that this part is subjective and not a necessary step in the process, it is better to know up front the level of satisfaction your staff has with the new system so that you can do something about it. Otherwise, you might find yourself after go live fighting fires and responding to numerous complaints with mounting frustration.
The end result of the process is to evaluate the overall level of satisfaction with the solution provided.
A rating scale that goes from:
(Perfection! This does everything it is supposed to and I couldn’t be happier.)
(We CANNOT go live with this solution.)
I want to stop here and set expectations – I have seen some of the most skilled project teams follow a proven implementation methodology, institute best practices in project management, employ several iterations of testing to check and double checked everything prior to handing it over to your staff for final testing. I have never witnessed a rating of Perfection on the first go round and in most cases users will fall somewhere in the middle finding the solution simply – Acceptable. These result are normal but more importantly they give you an indication of where you stand today and where to allocate time and energy to improve the level of satisfaction going forward.
Here are some guidelines on how to take action on the feedback provided:
1) If you receive feedback from your staff that they will not be able to work the solution and CANNOT go live then this needs to be escalated to your steering committee for review and hopefully your project team has a risk management plan with contingencies to address it.
2) If your staff determines that the solution is acceptable only for a short period of time, plan to move forward with the scheduled go-live so that other areas can start reaping the benefits of the new system but make sure you and your staff are available to work with your IT partners to make improvements immediately after go-live. Be ready to get involved and champion these improvements, if you don’t give these situations proper attention it will increase frustration over time and diminish any view of your new fundraising system as a success.
3)If your staff has identified the new system as an improvement – they may find it more efficient, increases transparency and accuracy, increased productivity and performance. Be willing to be a fan of the new system! Share your excitement and positive results with your colleagues.
If you are looking for guidance and best practices on how to increase the success of your new fundraising system, complete our contact form or call us at (424) 206-5379.
Dauwn Parker leverages her extensive background in CRM consulting and experience in fundraising operations to guide her clients to success. She offers her clients valuable leadership coaching, lessons for avoiding common pitfalls, best practices, tools, and techniques. Clients find Dauwn’s communication style as a differentiator in her services, whether conducting a large group facilitation or a one-on-one coaching session, she breaks complex concepts into consumable segments of information making it easy to understand for anyone regardless of their role in the organization, level of experience, or skill set.