Embrace the Change
Change can be terrifying.
Stone Orchard has gone through many changes over the past year, with still more coming.
By Ken Munday
I’ve timed this blog to coincide with the official release of Stone Orchard’s new logo and website, which we are extremely excited to unveil! Our new look is just one of the many benefits of working with StarDyne – a big change for us 9 months ago. We owe a heartfelt thank you to the marketing team at StarDyne and our new friends at PathFive (www.pathfive.ca), another StarDyne, and now Aptean, company.
Changing, or updating, your cemetery or funeral home records management software is a very significant, potentially terrifying, change. I thought it might be a good time to share some of what we have learned given all the changes we have faced in the past year. Not just how we are dealing with the changes, but also what I have learned from cemeteries going through the process of changing their software.
The biggest changes that I have been a part of this last year are certainly the acquisition of Stone Orchard Software Inc. by StarDyne Technologies (www.stardynetech.com), and the more recent acquisition of StarDyne Technologies by Aptean (www.Aptean.com).
Some of the changes that can seem terrifying right away are:
- Changes to familiar processes
- Learning new systems
- Working with new people
- A feeling of ‘lack of control’, you are no longer the expert
- The idea that perhaps someone else is making the decisions
- The unknown….
The change to StarDyne was ultimately my decision. I thought long and hard about it, weighed all of the advantages and disadvantages, and finally decided that this would be best for myself, my family, and for everyone at Stone Orchard - including our Clients. This change can be compared to that of a cemetery or funeral home deciding it was time to switch to a new software system. I say this because as I was going through the Stone Orchard acquisition by StarDyne, I used the lessons I have learned over the years from the most successful implementations of our software. Those are valuable lessons for us all.
The most successful changes are those where everyone impacted is involved in the entire process, where the process is well planned out, and finally, the project is well implemented.
When I say everyone is included, I mean everyone. Decision makers at the management level and front line staff who are involved in data entry. Outside cemetery workers that receive paperwork and calendar requests that are generated by Stone Orchard and people from finance and IT. Inevitably some people have different opinions on what is required and what direction to go in. Through thoughtful, transparent communication everyone is aware of what is happening from the beginning and is confident that their opinions and ideas are valued. For the most successful implementations all involved know all of the advantages and disadvantages are taken into account and ultimately the decision being made is the best for the organization. When people are included and their opinion is valued, they buy in and accept the decision. You will find that they are then willing to make the necessary compromises along the way.
When I started to seriously consider selling Stone Orchard to StarDyne and began the discovery process, I brought all of our staff in and made sure I heard their thoughts, opinions, and concerns, addressing them all accordingly. StarDyne had done this a number of times before; everything was well organized and thought out. As a result, the StarDyne acquisition and transition went very smoothly. There was a lot of excitement around the decision and since the acquisition, everything has been very positive. I couldn’t have been happier about the entire process and outcome.
Not even 9 months later, StarDyne was acquired by Aptean and everything is changing again. This time the change is quite different. This was StarDyne’s decision, and I was surprised when the acquisition was announced. The process has been different, Aptean is a very large company and with this acquisition, added a large number of employees, making it inefficient to inform everyone of the change until the acquisition was complete. I’m happy to say that ever since, Aptean has been very transparent and timely with communicating upcoming changes, resulting in a smooth transition. This process is not dissimilar to the decision of a large organization to purchase Stone Orchard software, and consulting only key staff. Sometimes proceeding in this fashion is necessary for large organizations where it is simply not realistic to involve everyone in the process. Taking this approach means that it is possible, even likely, that there will be pushback and problems along the way. Listening to and considering this feedback and responding with clear, transparent and considerate communication these people can be turned to positive advocates for the change.
With the change to Aptean being a large and sudden change, I have focused on the advantages – an easy task as there are many benefits. This gives me plenty of fun and exciting things to look forward to. You have to be aware of issues that can potentially arise, I have ensured the lines of communication are open and that Aptean is aware of any problems that may occur with changes they are suggesting, or even implementing. This allows us to go in a different direction if possible, and if not, we are ready to work through anything that might come up. I appreciate receiving constructive feedback from Clients and partners who are implementing Stone Orchard as they are the experts on their business, we want work with them to make sure Stone Orchard is beneficial to their unique operations. I know Aptean feels the same about Stone Orchard, they are listening to Stone Orchard and our Clients.
What I have learned is that change happens. You have to be positive and embrace the changes. This makes everyone’s life easier, including your own.
While changing your cemetery or funeral home software is a very large change for your organization. There are of course other smaller changes that come up, both planned and unplanned that have to be dealt with. For example, the Pokémon Go craze was a rather large, but short lived change. People are still playing the game, but not as avidly as when the game was first released. This is a perfect example of how to deal with change. During the height of the craze, there were two different opinions on how to deal with players coming to the cemetery.
- Some were very much against it and tried to discourage people from coming to the cemetery to play the game. A few even requested that Pokémon stops be removed from their cemetery.
- Others embraced it, creating a safe environment through awareness and even benefited as a result.
They benefited because while they realized that having people coming to the cemetery with their heads down may cause problems; they also realized that this was an opportunity to educate people who would not otherwise visit the cemetery. This communication helped with sales, increased positive awareness and hopefully can prevent future vandalism. When people know more about a cemetery, they can start to take some ownership and ideally help to protect it. As with major changes, minor changes such as Pokémon Go can provide more advantages than disadvantages if the change is embraced instead of fought against.
My recommendation is to take the changes in stride, treat them as a positive thing, and make the most out of them.
I hope this helps you to think about change in a positive way, as every change does have advantages and can turn out to be a very good thing if embraced and dealt with properly.