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How to Get Buy-In for Curriculum Management Software

Curriculum management software eliminates many of the difficulties of curricular changes. It keeps cross-departmental stakeholders on task with approval processes, reduces the need for tedious manual forms, and simplifies curriculum mapping.   Streamlining curricular management processes using software seems like a win-win solution for everyone. However, like any significant change at the post-secondary level, you need buy-in from peers and administrators before adoption. In this guide, you’ll learn about the many factors that contribute to higher education buy-in in regards to curriculum management software, how to best advocate for your preferred curriculum management solution, a solution that might meet your needs, and much more!

What Does Buy-in Mean?

The Hagberg Consulting Group defines buy-in as a shared vision for the future:  “People who take on your vision as their own, who will enthusiastically put in the hours and the focus because they believe in you and your objectives and truly want to see your idea come to life. The more your agenda becomes theirs, something they want to achieve because they believe in it, the better your chances of success.”
Harvard Business School’s John Kotter notes that around 70 percent of large-scale organizational changes don’t work. Why? Because stakeholders at all levels lack commitment or buy-in.
There are many reasons your team might lack buy-in, especially regarding new technology. A study from MIT Sloan Management Review and Capgemini Consulting found that 63 percent of organizations adopted technology slowly because stakeholders didn’t understand the benefits of the new tools
Others thought their organizations didn’t convey a sense of urgency in tech adoption, making them feel like they could use the tools at their own pace—or not at all.  

Still, others are naturally antagonistic to any change. Their knee-jerk reaction may be to say no—simply because they are familiar with their current routines.
Buy-in is more than simply forcing administrators, faculty, and staff to use curriculum management software; it's about ensuring they are enthusiastic about the reasons behind its adoption. Without this eagerness, platform adoption will be slow and spotty, detracting from the collaborative potential this software could bring.
So, how can you achieve the buy-in you’re seeking?  

If you are excited about curriculum management software adoption, congrats! You’re halfway there. Together, let’s discuss ways to ensure your team is as committed and enthusiastic as you are.

Understanding Your Target Audience

You likely will have two audiences you need to convince: first, the administrators and faculty who will help you identify which product to choose, and second, the department heads, faculty, and staff who will need to use the software you choose for their curriculum mapping and revisions.
With either group, the idea isn’t to issue an edict that they must use the software, but rather to generate interest in choosing the right management software for your school from the get-go.
One of the best ways to understand your many stakeholders is to create a committee. Building a team that can help you make decisions is important for several reasons. First, the committee should represent multiple perspectives; perhaps you invite a member of the faculty senate and another from the staff union, for instance. This diversity will help you become familiar the multiple views of the end users of the program. You can also understand which curricular revision practices are commonplace in specific colleges or departments.
Additionally, a committee will help you glean a better sense of what each department or college is looking for in a curriculum management solution. What are their particular challenges with the processes currently in place? What are they seeking in a solution?
Pro tip: if you have curriculum management software evangelists on your tech adoption committee, your buy-in will develop ten-fold.  

“It’s most important not that early adopters adopt, but that influencers adopt. Getting those folks on board early is critical,” advised Michael C. Mankins of Bain & Company.

Determining Your Primary Goal

If you're ready to go to your stakeholders with a specific curriculum management software in mind—slow down! Take a step back for a moment. Even if you're sure your solution is the best fit, you must first identify your stakeholders' most pressing curriculum challenge. Then, demonstrate how your solution will uniquely solve that problem.
For example, consider asking the following questions:
  • Are faculty and staff often complaining how long it takes for a curricular change to be made?
  • Are administrators constantly looking for a curricular proposal?
  • Do they find themselves publishing course catalogs that are not up to date?
hand typing on a laptop
Focusing on a common problem and identifying how this solution could make it better is the best first step.  

Identifying the goal will unify your committee early on. They will have a key takeaway to keep in mind when considering the software and discussing it with others. For instance, they might say, “I’m intrigued by adopting curriculum management software because it’s going to let us move away from those annoying paper forms.”

Doing Your Due Diligence

When presenting a solution to stakeholders, you want to let them know you’ve done your homework. There are many curriculum management software options, so research the field thoroughly so you can both choose wisely and support your position.
Rather than getting swayed too early, ask for product demos from several companies, and even invite stakeholders on your campus to attend. Ask for feedback from participants about what they liked or disliked in each system.
Then, you can make a decision collectively, rather than unilaterally. If your committee feels like their voices were heard in the decision-making process, they're more likely to accept the choice enthusiastically.
Later, when you pitch your proposal to a larger audience, you can articulate what the group liked about the software. That way, it's not your decision but one that the collective group has made with the institution's best interests in mind.

Anticipate the Objections

When making your pitch to your committee, be prepared to address hypothetical objections they may have. In addition to the ones mentioned above, think about common hesitations your team might have. This way, you’re prepared with answers and won’t be put on the spot.
The goal isn’t to “sell” your idea at all costs, either. In fact, you don’t even want to have a fully-formed proposal—with all of your i’s dotted and t’s crossed—until the committee has bought in and you’re ready to pitch to other stakeholders.
"Many people are often focused on one idea, and to push this through to the people involved. However, to get true buy-in it is powerful to give scenarios on 'What if' and 'What else.’ Especially sharing a ‘what if we did nothing’ scenario can be extremely powerful and interesting,” executive trainer Lars Sudmann says. “Sharing also ‘what else’ scenarios is powerful as this gives the audience / listeners a good and complete scenario, and the potential to get buy-in is higher as it’s not only one scenario that is being presented.”

Accept Criticism and Use It to Revise Your Solution

You may be excited about your idea and assume that everyone will be as enthusiastic as you are from the start. But if—and usually when—you face criticism, you may feel your hackles rising, rather than openly accepting feedback to improve the software adoption plan.

Forbes’ Kristi Hedges describes this process of criticism as productive advocacy. “You need to take a genuine interest in others’ opinions and not come to the table needing to have the right answer or being overly invested in a particular outcome,” she advises.  

That’s why it’s important to choose a curriculum management software that isn’t a cookie cutter solution. If your team proposes a reasonable idea that’s supported by the majority, you should follow through with what you tell them you’ll do. Nothing will quash buy-in faster than promising something you can’t or don’t deliver.

Organize Training and Clarify Value

One of the biggest hurdles in tech adoption for many is that they think learning the new software will be difficult or time-consuming.
Plan Training Sessions: Once you choose a curriculum management software, the next step is devising training sessions that demonstrate the value of the solutions, such as how it simplifies, rather than complicates, your colleagues’ processes.
Coordinate with Stakeholders: Communicate about these training sessions so stakeholders recognize they won’t be on their own when the new curriculum management software comes to campus. Successful curriculum management software is a bit of a catch-22: it will only prove its value if stakeholders will actually use it.
Clarify Value: No one would be excited about curriculum management software that didn’t make the curricular revision process easier. So, when proposing a solution, be as specific as possible, and use examples, to prove that the change and learning curve will reap benefits.

“It is always a great idea to share examples from other parts of an organization/business where your idea or something similar to your idea was already implemented,” Sudmann advises.
Kuali Curriculum Management software adds value in ways that similar solutions can’t. Here are some of the benefits to share before inquiring about a demo for your committee.

Consider Kuali Curriculum Management

Without management software, curriculum changes can happen more quickly in one department and more slowly in another, for instance. Kuali offers a single platform for all of these changes, which is especially important in analyzing trends like Ontario, Canada’s York University did.

Using Kuali Curriculum Management, York University analyzed curricular data in new and meaningful ways when it was stored in one system and identified bottlenecks in approval timelines. Learn more about York University’s journey.

1. Save Time on Curriculum Proposals.

Manual entry of curriculum proposals is a labor-intensive project to say the least. At Southern New Hampshire University, this process took about three weeks of work - and that doesn’t count the process of formatting the catalog.

By automatically moving changes from Kuali Curriculum Management to Catalog Management, adoption of this new technology saved the university about 18 days of effort.

“Not having to worry about all of the manual efforts lets me actually focus on [important] projects which are moving our university forward quite a bit,” said Mike O’Connor, Systems Analytic director.

2. Simplify Curriculum Workflow Processes

When colleges or departments have unique curricular analysis and revision processes, it can be challenging to transmit changes to others outside of those silos. Not so with Kuali, which simplifies communicating across departments or colleges. Leeward Community College, which moved from a homegrown system to Kuali, streamlined processes to see revision histories, see tracked changes, and speed up the curricular revision process.

3. Obtain Adoption Quickly

One of the reasons some people fight against technology adoption is because they imagine the learning curve is steep. But most people understand how to use Kuali Curriculum Management software with only a few simple training sessions. The interface is intuitive, and navigating the platform is straightforward.

“Kuali really stood out as being easy to navigate, customizable, and we could keep our processes...with some other solutions we would have had to change our processes to fit the technology and we wanted the technology to fit our processes. Kuali allowed for that. Afterdemoing all options, the committee decision was unanimous to go with Kuali,” said Ashley Rogers, Assistant Registrar of Curriculum Management at Murray State University.

Take a look at this training initiative from Frostburg State University in Maryland.

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