While many NDIS service providers are keen to improve their productivity, few believe they have the time or resources to invest in new technologies to make it happen. Or they’ve already invested in legacy technology that hasn’t been well adopted, is hard to update and even left gaps in their operation. Does any of this sound familiar?
Digital transformation shouldn’t be a catch-22. You don’t need massive investments or rapid changes to start benefiting from the productivity gains that come with implementing new NDIS software or automation practises. To unlock the secret sauce of building digital confidence in your disability support organisation, we asked Leesa Miller, CFO at WISE Employment and GoodHuman customer, to share some advice from her recent experience in digital transformation.
“Start small. We plan, we test, we learn, and we make time to celebrate wins,” says Leesa.
Leesa says if she had one vital tip for NDIS providers it would be for the leadership team to adopt a mindset of continuous improvement. Although WISE Employment is a large, nationwide organisation, Leesa says they start small when introducing new technology or automation processes. They always create a small, repeatable test before looking to scale across the broader organisation.
It doesn’t matter what size your organisation is, what expertise you have, or even where you are in your digital transformation journey. Adopting the right approach can turn a daunting task into a confidence-boosting experience for everyone.
Let’s break down what this means in practical terms and dive into how you can start practising this today in your own disability support organisation.
Rolling out new technology and processes to an entire organisation carries risks. This is what makes digital transformation feel daunting and off-putting for many — but it doesn’t need to be. To implement a new digital tool or initiate new processes successfully, look at starting with a trial in a small working group.
This group shouldn’t be siloed or limited to a selection of your IT team. Look at your internal stakeholder groups and appoint a diverse, cross-functional team of ‘champions’ that can represent their department’s interest. For example, team members responsible for admin and finance roles will have a different perspective and way of working to frontline support roles, who can speak to the realities of being in the community and with customers.
Once you have created a working group that is representative of your organisation, they can be the first to test your new technology or process. This approach allows you to learn how each department would use the technology in their work and resolve issues before they become a hassle or dent confidence in your wider organisation.
This iterative approach is known as “agile” and is used by businesses around the world for project management and software development. The goal is for teams to deliver value faster and with fewer headaches. Instead of putting everything into one major launch, an agile team delivers work in small increments and can respond to change quickly.
With a mindset of continuous improvement, tech expertise (or lack thereof) is not a problem. As Leesa puts it “there’s no such thing as failure, only learning”. By taking a test-and-learn approach, you can feel comfortable not having all the answers, understanding that your knowledge and confidence will build as you go.
As a senior leader, you should make time for regular feedback sessions with your working group during test phases. Take note of what is and isn’t working and invite feedback from your team on what they would like to achieve or see improved. You may discover that the way staff interact with the technology isn’t what you were expecting. Learning this early allows you to make adjustments to roll out the best possible solution for everyone.
For example, if you are looking to implement automation for incident reporting. By interviewing the people usually involved in the manual process, you can ensure that any automated workflows replicate what would otherwise be handled via phone calls and emails. Without this consultation beforehand, key team members could be out of the loop or important steps may be left out. If you had taken a ‘big bang’ approach and launched it to everyone at once, you wouldn’t know about these details until after rollout, rather than at a time when you can address it quickly and simply.
Tip: When you gather feedback or uncover roadblocks, provide this information to your technology vendor as well as internal IT leads. A good technology vendor will look to help you develop solutions and create a checklist for what needs to happen before implementation. They may also have ideas from other customers that have come into similar issues.
“We achieve success by being curious and learning, as well as celebrating wins and having fun along the way,” says Leesa. “Anyone who joins my team knows that is going to be the way of working”, she adds.
When you’re looking to build digital confidence within your organisation, it’s important to celebrate ‘the wins’. When a test has worked well, when a staff member has given valuable feedback or when potential issues have been stopped in their tracks. All these examples are worth celebrating and by doing so, you help empower your team to speak up and give feedback.
Celebrating wins could be as simple as a weekly email where you share updates on your digital journey and highlight the ‘wins of the week’, or acknowledging staff members who have shared their feedback in your team meetings. When you are rolling out new systems that staff will get excited about, credit the work that has been done behind the scenes to let teams know that their voices have been heard and actioned.
Finding victories to celebrate on your digital journey not only benefits your project, but it also helps to create advocates for your transformation. With a working group that is representative of your organisation, your staff will have peers within their own teams to look to for guidance and support during a rollout of new technologies or processes.
Start your digital transformation journey
“We knew that if we were going to continue on the NDIS, we needed to drastically reduce our back-of-house costs and have a steely commitment to automation,” says Leesa Miller, CFO of WISE Employment.
If you’re looking to improve productivity and thrive on the NDIS, you can learn more about WISE Employment’s journey toward digital transformation in this new playbook for the disability services industry — The Digital Transformation Playbook: 3 Steps to Future-Proof Your NDIS Organisation.