When it comes time to implement online tools for accreditation management, it can seem daunting to wrap your head around all the opportunities and boil them down to specific requirements. Before even considering what to build you must demonstrate the potential in order to gain buy-in from what is often a large number of stakeholders.
These are some basic principles of agile software development which values people and processes over technology.
1. Define Success. What is the definition of success for the project, and how will you measure it? A very common goal of implementing accreditation software is to provide an intuitive interface for customer interaction. But what does that mean – especially when every user’s definition of intuitive is different.
Something to strive for that is measurable: Improve the customer’s online experience and provide the ability to electronically submit as many required materials as possible.
Taking a finite number of these success paths and making them available to all project stakeholders can help keep the project on track and also lend validation when it comes time to prioritize features/functionality against a set budget. All proposed functionality should have a direct (positive) effect on your goals.
2. Tell Stories. On a large and complex project with many potential user roles, it is sometimes difficult to even know where to begin identifying how a system should function. Identify each of the users that will interact with the accreditation management system by defining user goals in the form of very short stories.
For example: Consider the role of the customer or entity seeking accreditation. She/he really only has one top priority goal – to gain accreditation. However, that main goal is often comprised of a group of supporting stories.
As a customer, I would like to:
- Receive automatic notification via email when items are approaching due dates.
- Have my data pre-populated where possible.
- Provide narrative responses to standards/criteria.
- Upload supporting documents.
- Associate supporting documents to one or many standards.
These stories can be further vetted to include supporting criteria for each of your users (staff, administrators, auditors, decision bodies, etc.). Once the stories have been created, you can begin to prioritize them.
3. Prioritize. In a perfect world, the accreditation system meets or even exceeds every user goal and need. In the real world, you have to find a balance that manages the project scope to meet your budget. That is where prioritization comes into play.
Though many requirements may be added over the course of planning and implementation phases, the resounding business opportunities and definitions of success remain. With this in mind, the user stories can be prioritized to help meet these goals.
For instance, if your definition of success is to: “Improve the customer’s online experience and provide the ability to electronically submit as many required materials as possible.” Then every story that achieves this goal has a high business value and rises to the top of the list.
The introduction of online tools for accreditation management includes a variety of people with numerous sets of processes. Use these steps to help you get organized before considering what technology to implement.
For further information, read about improving productivity and user experience through the implementation of an accreditation management system.
ARMATURE’s Chad Baker has spent over a decade entrenched in compliance management solutions for organizations performing accreditation, certification, and quality assurance in a variety of industries including Higher Education, Healthcare, Laboratory Science, and Public Service. Read knowledgeable commentary on the accreditation industry at Chad’s blog.