Generating buy-In for moving from paper to digital

  • 21 March 2023
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Question for the community.  What are some reasons you run in to with front-line workers resisting the move from paper to digital? And how do you address them? I have my thoughts on this but I’d love to hear yours.  


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Hey @Kevin_Gausch, we experience the following friction points in our environment and address them in the following ways:

General resistance to process change

This is a tough nut to crack and takes a multifaceted approach. We have a lot of very busy, very distracted educators who are often using SafetyCulture to do things that are seen as overhead rather than a core aspect of their job. Process in this environment tends to become quite singular to individual sites and entrenches very quickly when the quickest route to success is discovered (which honestly is often ‘how do I get the boxes ticked as quickly as possible’ rather than proper engagement with the task at hand). We started our enterprise SC journey by taking a famously long and painful inspection that needs to be done multiple times a day and completely rewriting it to be as simple to comprehend and perform as possible to showcase the benefits of the technology (e.g., hiding sections that aren’t required, using a single touch to answer questions instead of needing to write full responses). The ability to update a form on the fly based on feedback cannot be underestimated either - incrementally adding extra items or removing/rewording existing ones and keeping everyone on the most current version at all times has been viewed very positively. People react very well when they see pain points identified by themselves or their peers dissolve in near-real time :)

Unreliable technology

This one is difficult as once people have been burned by tech they take a long time to return to it. It’s not so much the platform that causes trouble for us (SafetyCulture itself is widely appreciated) but our devices and connectivity - sites in regional or low-signal areas really struggle, especially with the increasing level of data and media we’re asking to be captured. We do find teams in these areas are the most likely to revert to paper and it’s an ongoing struggle for us. The ability to conduct inspections offline is good but resyncing becomes an issue for us, especially when there’s a large amount of info to sync or it gets interrupted partway

Lack of digital literacy

We work in an extremely diverse sector with staff aged 15-75+ and a significant percentage coming from an English as a second or even third language background. While navigating an iPad is second nature to probably everyone reading this, it can be a real point of anxiety for some of our staff. This can only really be beaten through experience and by providing the most accessible inspections as possible so the content is provided in common, familiar, easily understood language and just as importantly, the response sets are easily and correctly comprehended. We spend a lot of time testing our inspections with as wide a cross-section of users as we can to ensure ambiguity is minimised and we use terms that are familiar to everyone. Eliminating jargon is important, especially in safety and OH&S spaces, where experts and specialists often speak a completely different language to the people completing inspections on the front line

Fear of increased data transparency/visibility

This is a workplace culture issue that can be hard to detect and even harder to allay. Moving big, compliance driven forms from paper that is often only pulled out if things go really wrong or on rare spot audits into the digital space opens up entirely new vistas of data that can make teams feel extraordinarily vulnerable when new management reports result in conversations about deficiencies or safety concerns that have never before had a spotlight shone on them. This is the most organisationally challenging point to deal with as the flood of new insight can very easily result in strong responses at all levels that arise from the way people have been performing their role, often for quite a long time. I think it can also be the best driver for change and adoption if handled well, but it takes a mature management team with a measured approach to improvement rather than a reactionary, blame-driven response to the influx of new data