Like any other industry where technology drives the industry forward, Senior Living Communities are at risk for making quick decisions regarding software vendors that cost MORE time and money down the road. Today, we’re talking about how you can avoid common mistakes that we see among Senior Living Communities.
In my previous article, we learned tips for deciding in which senior living technologies to invest. Now that the budget has been approved you must decide which vendor. Time to schedule some demos! Not so fast. There are tons of software vendors ready to solve your problems with new startups opening every day.
Whether you’re evaluating Electronic Health Records, HR Platforms, Dining Software, or a multitude of other senior living technology solutions, keep reading to learn the common mistakes to avoid when selecting the right vendor for your project.
Don’t start scheduling demos without a plan.
I see it all the time. Organizations have a few vendors in mind they’ve seen at trade shows or have heard good things from a friend. They call them up and start scheduling presentations. Show us what you’ve got! Very quickly, they end up going down so many rabbit trails that they aren’t sure who does what much less who does it best. One vendor shows you this great mobile app, and now you aren’t sure if the vendors you saw yesterday have a mobile app because you never asked the question.
You will save months between now and go-live by pausing here and being intentional about how you proceed. Simply sit down and list out your goals for the project followed by the capabilities the product must have to support your operation. For example:
- What features are important to enable you to reach your goals? Prioritize your requirements and create a targeted agenda for the vendor presentations so that no time is wasted.
- Take detailed notes during each vendor’s presentations in order to avoid mixing up the details and have a clear idea of how each vendor handles your specific requirements. See Step 2 in an earlier article for more details on this.
Implementation strategy is not an afterthought.
Don’t you love Ikea? Me neither. I walk around imagining how these modern pieces of furniture are going to look even more amazing in my living room than they do in the show room. Once home, I find out the time between purchase and finished product is nothing short of excruciating with questionable results. Too often, organizations get excited when they see a demo of software that is easy to use and innovative and they don’t properly evaluate the vendor’s implementation strategy before signing a contract.
Before you talk to multiple references about their experience (which you should definitely do!), you need to understand what type of implementation support you need.
Ask these questions of your organization and theirs:
- Do you have someone on your internal project team that has experience implementing this type of technology?
- Are you planning to adopt operational best practices in addition to implementing the software?
- What challenges are you facing with training?
- What level of support will you expect from the vendor to maintain the application after go-live?
The answers to these questions will dictate what type of partner and implementation strategy you need…and what it will cost! Vendors vary drastically in their approach to implementation and training, and, therefore, this should be a major factor in your vendor evaluation process.
Show AND Tell.
When evaluating features and functions of a vendor’s technology, require the vendor to show you the answer, not just tell you. Too often, your questions are misunderstood and the answer can be incomplete. It is your responsibility to validate, validate, validate. One way is to ensure that you have seen the technology do what you think it can do.
In addition, talk to references about specific functionality that you need. Finally, if possible, sign up for a trial period to test the features yourself. Don’t get caught up in the excitement of the bells and whistles and lose focus on your needs. Check out my article here for more insights on staying focused in an evaluation.
Implementing new technology is a huge investment of time and money. Be sure you choose the right vendor and partners to ensure your project is deemed a success by all.
Katie Griffith is the Principal and owner of Bright Solutions with over 16 years experience working with senior living technology. Our experts have their finger on the pulse of senior services technology with the knowledge of what’s working, what’s not, and how to maximize value from every dollar. Contact us!