When correctly implemented, faculty activity reporting software is a win-win for faculty and university administrators alike, capturing accomplishments so they can be shared with a wide range of stakeholders, from legislators, accreditors and alumni to prospective students and faculty. The willingness of faculty to support and use this type of software is essential to success. Here are three tips for engaging faculty in the joint project of implementing a faculty activity database.
1) Include Faculty in the Selection Process
Change isn’t easy. It’s natural to get comfortable with “the way things have always been,” even when the way things have always been isn’t so good. To give a faculty database the best chance of succeeding, include faculty in the selection process from the beginning. Identify solutions that can deliver the data your university needs, then give faculty the opportunity to evaluate them for usability, understand system capabilities, address questions about security and air any other concerns.
As vendors will explain, the best faculty activity software can:
- be customized to meet existing faculty handbook procedures
- provide data integrations with campus systems like Banner and PeopleSoft
- directly import data from publication citation repositories such as Crossref, PubMed and Scopus
- keep activity data secure
Alleviate faculty concerns by letting them hear directly from vendors. Having an open conversation and addressing each issue gives you the best chance of capturing the data needed for the university’s reporting needs.
2) Communicate Early and Often
Once you select a faculty activity reporting solution, communication makes all the difference. While a poorly crafted rollout can create animosity and resistance among faculty not directly involved in the selection process, clear and constant communication can build trust and acceptance.
During implementation, avoid blindsiding faculty. Instead, engage them with a stream of communication that follows this broad outline:
- Explain the solution and why you chose it
- Share that faculty representatives helped make the selection
- Revisit the current system and its shortcomings, such as multiple requests to faculty for the same information
- Describe the benefits that the new solution will provide
- Discuss your transition plans, including the training and documentation you’ll make available to ease faculty into using the new system
- Communicate expectations clearly. Do you need only the current year of faculty activities? Will you use the system for annual reporting? If so, when?
- Let faculty know if there are resources for helping enter their data
3) Rally Faculty and Staff
A key objective when implementing an activity reporting solution is getting faculty intrigued and engaged. Entice faculty and staff to learn and use the software by offering a pilot program for willing early adopters. Piloting with a small group allows you to work the kinks out of the system before full rollout. This prevents the full faculty body from experiencing any frustrating start-up issues. It also builds trust in the system, as faculty members who are already engaged become champions for the software among their colleagues.
Finally, consider incentives for your faculty. Brown bag sessions where you provide lunch or a social hour that combines mingling and learning promote good will. Or, give small rewards for using the system. Donuts from a favorite local bakery or $5 gift cards to a popular coffee shop are terrific thank-yous to faculty who attend training or are among the first to complete a data entry milestone.
The willingness of faculty to support and use this type of software is essential to success. To learn more about engaging faculty, read our e-book: How to Get Buy-In for Faculty Activity Reporting Software.