RHB on the Slate Stage: Change Management in Slate
Slate is a CRM that is always evolving, and throughout the course of our work, change is more than just inevitable: it is required. Over the years, our processes shift, Technolutions unveils new features, and we uncover new opportunities to use the system’s tools better. So how do we retool our instance’s engine without losing our momentum?
RHB Senior Integration Consultants Abraham Noel and Dom Rozzi have some recommendations, and together with Wellesley College’s Jess Ricker, they shared their thoughts at the Slate Innovation Festival. On the Slate Stage on May 20, 2021, these three long-time users presented their Slate change management expertise, offering guidance on the framework needed to structure Slate for longevity. Here are three key takeaways that emerged from their conversation.
Make sure your institutional Slate knowledge stays current.
From a change management standpoint, it should be someone’s job responsibility (or, ideally, a priority for multiple members of your team) to stay current with Slate developments and updates. This includes time to attend webinars and conferences, read new documentation as it is released, and test new features and processes within the Test environment. Technolutions is constantly adding new functionality that adds additional capability or improves current parts of the system, but if your institution doesn’t know about an enhancement, or doesn’t understand its implications for your work, you can’t use it.
Bring your team along.
Understanding when to introduce a change in Slate is as much about your team and their processes as it is about the technology itself. Some things in Slate can be changed or updated without anyone knowing the change occurred—think reordering rules for efficiency or recreating operational queries using Configurable Joins instead of a Local query. Other changes, however, require significant input from your team, and they need to have a seat at the table as these decisions are made so that you can weigh the pros and cons together.
As your team evaluates these change opportunities, the annual maintenance and overall complexity of given processes in Slate should be a consideration. This being said, if you find your team stuck at the point of analysis or you sense overall hesitancy, do something small to keep moving forward; these small victories can help the team see the gains that can be made by pursuing continuous improvement in the system. And by tying this new win back to the student experience, you create an experience with change management that is palatable for your team, increasing buy-in and collaboration.
Keep sustainability front and center.
Rebuilding processes to be more efficient or utilizing new features in Slate is great, but if the knowledge only lives in your team members’ heads, you’re setting yourselves up for long-term frustration. Make sure you have a clear strategy for documentation, and familiarize yourself with the opportunities to record this information right within your instance. Documentation areas exist right within the fields and prompts setup, queries have a section for comments, and portals have spots for logging instructions—when possible, leverage these over an external document.
If possible, consider utilizing the Slate Scholar Custom Content to document complex processes and to log instructions that require a link to an external resource. Perhaps more importantly, this content is also accessible to non-admin users of the system; they simply have to navigate to the appropriate place in Slate and click the lightbulb help icon in the upper left corner of the screen).
Finally, Slate tasks and internal system emails can help your team keep your instance fresh and up-to-date. For maintenance processes that are required on a recurring basis (for instance, maintaining fields and prompts appropriately on your forms), you can create an internal-facing Slate task to remind the appropriate team member right on schedule. System emails can be tied to these tasks, giving the responsible person a nudge when needed, and managers can build reports that provide information on outstanding or overdue tasks. And, of course, team members get the satisfaction of literally checking it off when done. Who doesn’t love that?