Rolling out – Don’t overwhelm the users!

When a school decides to roll-out (or any other system for that matter), a decision has to be made.

  1. Roll-out all features at once?
  2. Roll-out the most value-added features first, and phase in additional features over time?

I understand many schools prefer option (1). They just want to do a big-bang, get everything out there, and be done with it. And then they can proudly look back and say they’ve done it.

However, after seeing many roll-outs of school systems and other kinds of systems as well, I’m in favor of option (2). 

The reality is, it’s easy to overwhelm users when you try to do too much, too fast. Users (teachers, administrators, parents etc) have a lot on their plate already. And chances are, if you ask if they’d like to start learning a new system today that can help them do their work, the fear of having to learn a new unknown system (combined with bad experiences in the past) would probably drive them to push back against the introduction of a school management system.

And all that before they’ve even had a chance to look at the system.

Now, let’s say we take the conservative approach and roll-out in phases, focusing on the most value-added features in the first phase. Usually we find introducing the grading and report card generation the most value-added process as this is a very tedious process for most schools.

At the beginning, teachers are fearful. But when they log in, they see a very small number of menu items. It almost looks… bare. Certainly not very frightening.


Don't you think new users would find the menu on the left much less daunting to navigate than the menu on the right?
Don't you think new users would find the menu on the left much less daunting to navigate than the menu on the right?

As they start to grade (and really, it’s almost brainlessly easy), their confidence in the system and in their ability to use the system grows. Remember, we were focusing on the most value-added features first.

“Hey, not only is this easy, but this really helps my job!”

Before you know it, they’ll be telling you that they want more!

“Can I get a report that shows the students by district? How about a feature where I can check for the allrergies of my students?”

At that point, it’ll be a cinch to roll-out the rest of the features. has been carefully designed so that you can expose only a subset of the features first so that the user’s screen does not get cluttered with features. Take advantage of this to ensure a smooth, successful roll-out.

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