In early 2017, the International Youth Foundation (IYF) embarked on a digital journey to develop a technology solution for tracking and managing stakeholder relationships, project activities and data, performance and results, and a handful of other business processes. Our solution, which we call STORM—Systematic Tracking and Organization Records Management—is built on Salesforce and accessible by all staff at IYF.

Change like this is hard. Acknowledging that was a critical first step, preparing us to support the change we were about to ask of our colleagues. Our journey took two years, and we learned a lot along the way. Below are three must-do recommendations for organizations about to set out on their own transformational odyssey.

  1. Build in sufficient staff time and budget. For the build, training, and ongoing utilization of the new technology solution, organizations must allow ample staff time, and not just for the core team leading the initiative. All staff that will use the new solution must have adequate time allocated to receive training and adjust to working within a new system. System administration and ongoing training to staff should also be adequately planned and budgeted.
  2. Generate ownership and buy-in. Adopting a new tech solution requires collaboration and participation by all stakeholders. Engage colleagues at all levels and from different teams within the organizations to serve as testers and to provide input to the system design. At IYF, we nominated change management champions from all organizational levels to serve as a conduit of information, communicating out efficiencies and functionality of system adoption and reporting back pain points or resistance. We also created an executive team advisory committee which brought our organization’s top leadership on the journey from the start and messaged the strategic importance of the initiative.
  3. Use a phased-in approach. Although we did not phase in our build, we did phase in training and adoption, allowing users to incrementally adjust to the new way of working and gain fluency in the technology at a slower, easier pace. A dedicated email account supports adoption and full utilization and serves as a historical record of administrative tasks, system updates, and third party communication. At IYF, we also used Chatter to create a public Help Desk and Suggestion Box and held weekly office hours, branded as a STORM Genius Bar in our office common area, for drop-in questions or to offer tips and tricks to working in the system. In addition, we held team Hack-A-Thons to facilitate data entry and provide hands-on training sessions supported by a trainer or administrator. Adopting a slower pace also affords time to celebrate early wins. In our case, we sent out a Friday email recognizing our users and teams that had logged in the most times and highlighted newly created or edited records.

STORM is still being adopted across our organization—including country offices around the globe—but already it has delivered many benefits including greater transparency and efficiency, enhanced collaboration and effectiveness, and the ability to make evidence-informed decisions. It was a long process, but well worth the effort.

To learn more about IYF’s journey designing a business-aligned tech solution, watch a recording of a recent webinar we held in collaboration with Economic Change and Mastercard Foundation.