Technology has become an inseparable part of our professional lives, but it doesn’t always live up to the promise of making work easier. Slow computers, outdated operating systems, and buggy software are just a few of the frustrations employees face on a daily basis.
When the technology you have isn’t working, it’s typically up to the employees who use that tool every day to initiate the change. If you’re a frontline staff member, supervisor, or manager who wants to implement a technology change in your organization, these four tips will help you influence that positive change:
First and foremost: You don’t have to settle for the technology you currently have. There are plenty of options available to solve the problems your organization is facing. This is true even if you have a limited budget, or are required to use a state-mandated system.
The initial step of the process is straightforward: Research all of the potential solutions or methods for solving the problem. Industry conferences are a great place to learn about the different technologies that are available. Software providers typically attend these conferences, so you can learn about their products and meet their teams. Another option is to talk to your peers about how they are leveraging technology. They may have feedback on what has (or hasn’t) worked well for them.
If funding is the primary concern standing between you and the technology your organization needs, technology grants might be the solution. Technology grants can help cover the cost of hardware, software, and even high-speed internet access. And since they typically don’t have to be paid back, they’re a great option for disability service agencies to purchase technology they could not otherwise afford.
There are lots of opportunities for technology funding if you know where to look. Some states allocate funding or provide grants to encourage disability service organizations to experiment with new technologies. There are also private grants from organizations like the NEC Foundation. These grants set aside millions of dollars for the development, application and use of technology. Finally, corporations like Apple, Microsoft and Verizon have been known to donate devices or money to nonprofits.
Locating and applying for these funding opportunities takes some legwork, but the amount of money that’s at stake makes it well worth the effort. Tools like Grant Finder can save you time in your grant search by allowing you to search and filter for specific opportunities. You may also want to reach out to your state to stay in the loop about any new funding. Once you’re ready to apply, this article will show you how to make your grant proposal stand out.
On the other hand, maybe the reason you’re feeling stuck with your technology is that you’re required to use a state-mandated software system. Even if this system is outdated or less than ideal for your needs, you don’t have the option to just toss it out the window. However, you may be able to work around this problem by using a different system that integrates with your state system.
Integrations synchronize your data between the state system and the system you actually want to use. Instead of using the state system directly, you can use the system of your choice on an everyday basis and then share relevant data with the state system as needed.
For instance, let’s say you want to use SETWorks to manage your agency’s day-to-day activities, but you’re required to submit billing data through your state’s eBilling software program. SETWorks solves this problem by connecting to state systems to send billing data. This enables you to use the system that works best for you, while still satisfying the state’s requirements.
If your organization can’t afford — or isn’t ready for — a technology change, you can still take baby steps to make things better. For example, you could start by organizing your digital files and folders. It may not be your ideal solution, but it will help make your current system work more efficiently until you’re able to put something else in place. It will also set you up for success once you’re able to purchase a new software system because your files will already be decluttered and ready to go.
When you’re feeling frustrated with your organization’s current technology, it’s tempting to throw up your hands and think, “There’s nothing I can do.” However, just because you’re not the decision maker doesn’t mean you have to settle for the status quo. Instead of waiting for someone at the top to make the change, use these tips to take the lead and bring solutions to the table. You can initiate positive change, even if you’re not the one in charge.
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