One of the biggest challenges facing most IT organizations takes place once appointment scheduling software has been purchased, i.e. its adoption and rollout. This blog post explains how to get appointment scheduling software up and running more quickly.
Taking software from ‘theory’ to reality
An appointment booking solution is often used as a way of driving revenue, solving customer problems or positioning the business as a supportive advice-giver.
Regardless of why it was purchased, though, organizations need to ensure that what they’ve bought gets delivered, adopted and used in their organization in a way that helps them demonstrate return on investment (ROI).
We find that although lot of companies invest a lot of money in purchasing a software solution from a supplier they’re super-nervous about how it’s going to land! Will users adopt it or not? Actually, in our experience, maximizing the ROI is all about digital transformation. At the end of the day that comes down to: making sure the software is rolled out appropriately and people are actually using it.
The problem: people who choose software often don’t use software
A lot of the time we find that several people are involved in the process of choosing a new software solution, especially when organizations go through a full RFP process. This typically includes everyone from business stakeholders to IT stakeholders and often involves in-store champions too. But, of necessity, RFPs generate requirements and a business case with a limited set of people in a room. However, a different group of people will be affected by the way appointments are booked or meetings are scheduled once a new piece of software is in place: that is, the users and customers.
This begs the question – are the software requirements going to be different in reality, once users and customers get involved? More often than not, they will be, which is why one of the first points to consider when trying to get appointment scheduling software up and running more quickly is how to roll it out.
Business stakeholders and IT must collaborate to get the best results
Often, we work with organizations where you see a segregation between the IT and the business teams. The business drives the need for change, and IT is responsible for delivering it. Ultimately, it’s down to the software provider and the IT side of the business to get it delivered – which is where we get involved to make things as smooth as possible. That’s why we try to make recommendations based on our experience, in order to best land the change and to make sure the business is getting what they expect out of it.
The secret to a successful software rollout lies in taking a phased delivery approach
You can design the system exactly how you want it with business analysts, but in the real world the success of a system being used in 5-1,000 stores and with up to 50,000 users depends on their adoption. And because they’ve used a system before they’ll have their own weird and wonderful ways of booking appointments, viewing meeting room times, checking schedules, assigning customer service employees to handle customer queries, or putting processes in place.
- Start with an MVP and get continual, iterative user feedback
This is why we like to start with phased deliveries, an agile-type of deployment. It’s all about putting the riskiest items of deployment also the most important up front, to start with the part of the solution that’s going to give our customers value in the quickest possible time. Balancing a phased delivery is about getting the most value in place over time, but not adding all the risk in one go.
Most of the time, if you’re selling an enterprise solution that is touching multiple parts of your business, we typically recommend that you start with a minimum viable product (MVP) rollout approach. The idea behind this is basically to get continual and iterative user feedback.
We tend to find that starting with an MVP rollout, having it running in a pilot set of stores for, say, three weeks – then getting in a lot of feedback from these stores and branches gives the best results for our customers.
- Then switch to an agile approach to delivery
Once we have user feedback we review these changes, implement some and not others, and build upon what is already in place until we get to a point where we’re happy we’ve covered off 80% of the functionality from our users.
Since requirements can (and often do) change to suit the real-world scenario in which appointments are booked, taking an agile approach allows these changes to be applied to the project along the way: requirements and work-through sprints can be adapted and applied to the rollout itself in an agile way.
- Roll out appointment scheduling / meeting room booking solutions one channel at a time
As well as having a phased delivery that incorporates features and functionality, a phased delivery can also apply to rolling out an appointment scheduling software solution by channel. This is something we really do recommend to companies that take on our solutions – especially when you don’t have anything in place to begin with.
The majority of our customers: whether retail, financial or local government, will typically start by deploying a solution to users in their stores or branches. Then they might well have an online presence and a call center presence, but we don’t often recommend that they do all those channels in one go.
Case study: real-world example
A large high street retailer in the UK took this approach.
They needed an appointment scheduling solution for members of the general public to be able to book appointments with medical experts when the stores were open, the experts were available, and the rooms were free. Their intention was to allow their customers to book appointments (everything from eye tests, to flu jabs and makeovers) both in-store and also online.
To make sure the resources were available to the general public in the best way possible we rolled it out to stores first, then took it online for customers to book themselves.
To make sure stores and users were using the system in the right way we built a compliance checklist with each of their branches. Once each store had met the requirements, the were included in the phased rollout to make their appointments available online.
We wanted to make absolutely, damn sure that we were giving the general public correct availability information so they had flexibility to book appointments that suited them, but also to ensure that we didn’t put the business in a position where they had to deliver services at times or places that would create inefficiencies in their business. This meant analyzing the data from the system over time to change appointment availability in a way that worked for both the stores and the public. For example, we soon realized that weekday mid-afternoon appointments weren’t popular and changed the calendar so staff could make better use of their time.
This case study is just one example of the many appointment scheduling solutions ACF has put in place – in organizations ranging from mobile phone providers to county councils, building societies to vets. Regardless of where our customers use Q-flow, regardless of whether the original business objective was driving revenue by booking chargeable appointments, or improving customer service by making staff available to advise customers or solve their problems face to face, the key success was determined by the solution’s usability.
Over time we’ve learned that a phased rollout is key to getting appointment scheduling software up and running more quickly, with better results, over the medium and longer term.
Need help? We’re here for you
Even if you’re implementing another solution, it doesn’t matter. We have a team of experts who you can talk to if you want some delivery or rollout advice in the digital transformation space – whether it’s using Q-flow or something else, we’ll speak to you.