Straight from the Sanford School: 10 Tips for Upgrading to Blackbaud's education management solutions

Sanford School is a private, co-ed, college prep day school for pre-kindergarten through grade 12, located in Hockessin, Delaware. The school provides a caring and supportive environment for students who are challenged to achieve excellence in academics, athletics, and the arts.

When the Sanford School completed their upgrade to Blackbaud’s education management solutions, Cheryl Fleming, director of communications and marketing at the school, shared with us her strategy for navigating the transition and what helped her team be successful. In this tip sheet we’ll share her top 10 tips, from communicating change to training staff, for other schools considering an upgrade to Blackbaud’s education management solutions:

1. Announce changes early and often.

Remind folks that the upgrade will ultimately make their experience a better one. Share this message ASAP through multiple communication channels.

2. Put yourself in their shoes.

Consider what most people ask when you announce a software change: What’s in it for me? Keep your finger on the pulse of your users, their roles, and what their experience with Blackbaud’s education management solutions will be like. Then you can develop plans to help them transition faster.

3. Budget smart.

Sure, you’re budgeting for the costs of the upgrade. But have you considered an investment in additional staff, training materials, and incentives to move the process along smoothly? Our experience has shown that incentives motivate teachers and staff to go beyond required training and devote more time to learning the software.

4. Use your friends and your resources.

You’re not in the upgrade alone. Blackbaud has a wealth of resource materials to help you, your trainers, and your users. Don’t forget that there are a lot of schools that have made the upgrade with Blackbaud—reach out to them and use every networking opportunity you can to connect and get advice.

5. Evaluate your needs.

Blackbaud’s education management solutions offer a vast array of functionalities, but you may not be able to use all of them right away. Assess your school’s needs and capabilities and plan accordingly.

6. Create a community.

Use the faculty, staff, and parents who are embracing the change as partners in a community. Get their input, ideas, and feedback on the upgrade experience. Allow them to act as cheerleaders on your behalf, spreading positive vibes on the change throughout the school for a smooth transition.

7. Craft a solid training program.

One-size-fits-all training is not ideal for your users. Some prefer learning through webinars and videos. Others want to read a guide or experience one-on-one, in-person sessions. Offer a variety of training resources, and tailor your messages to target particular user groups. Remember to offer one-on-one sessions at different days and times, and remind users who will be working together to share information.

8. Make sure you see what they see.

Conduct tests on desktops, laptops, tablets, iOS devices—any that you can get your hands on. It will help ensure that your messages are being presented effectively on your users’ devices.

9. Pick up the phone and power up support.

Run user reports to see who has yet to log into your new system. Call them up! They’ll appreciate the guidance and personal attention. You’ll probably receive useful feedback along the way. Another important item—set up a dedicated support hotline and email address for new user inquiries.

10. Don’t fear the follow-ups.

Making one or two announcements about training opportunities, upcoming changes, or instructions won’t be enough. Busy people often miss key information. Your users will need to be reminded often.

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