What is it, and why is it important for the entire process of working with welfare technology?
A communication plan within the area of welfare technology will more often than not be a part of your strategy. But to underline its importance and underline how it dramatically increases your chances of success we have allocated a separate step for the communication plan. Whether or not you include it in your strategy or keep it separate is not vital – it is the considerations required in producing a good communication plan that makes a difference.
A communication plan is both for your external and internal communication. It helps you communicate your vision and the specifics of your strategy.
The communication plan should help you communicate your message across every department and every profession within your organization. For this reason creating a communication plan should include inter-departmental cooperation as well as end-users. If your organization has a central communication department they are naturally important players.
Given the need to communicate difficult messages, the need to differentiate who gets what information and the need for the communication plan to support a cultural change it may be beneficial to consider cooperation with a research institute or other external experts.
In all phases of planning, preparing and implementing welfare technology it is very important to identify and involve all roles that are affected by the changes – the target group for the services, their relatives, staff providing the traditional and (if other) those that will provide the welfare technology services, managers at care providers, case managers, strategic planning officers, politicians and other directly involved in the welfare service. But also professionals necessary to facilitate the changes – specialists within IT, legal issues, procurement, economy, communication and so forth.
When seeking cooperation with end users (elderly, persons with disabilities, etc) it is important to consider the target group. Strive to get engaging persons that really will benefit from the new services, and not merely someone that simply believes themselves to be a representative of the target group.
It is always better to have those actually using traditional services, rather than having their relatives, the chairman of the local association for retired persons, etc. This puts us to special challenges, it is often frail persons and sometimes with special disabilities that make it extra challenging to engage them in the dialogue, but it is worth being a little extra creative in finding the right methods.
Back to top
Guidelines based on experience
As a supplement to an overall communication plan, consider also applying project based communication plans. During your work with welfare technology you will employ multiple projects at once with different communication requirements and needs. To facilitate this consider using project based communication plans (as a supplement to your overall communication plan) much in the same manner as using action plans to operationalize your strategy.
Working with welfare technology involves an organization wide cultural change and the communication plan needs to facilitate this. Therefore the communication plan must be able to create a common understanding within the organization and across professions.
One of the most importance tasks in facilitating an organization wide cultural change revolves around three key concepts: Anchoring, obligation and ownership.
- Ensuring that everyone, from top management to front staff, from politician to relative knows why we are working with welfare technology.
- They not only know why, they know why it is important and it has become a part of everyday at the job.
- It is not only a part of the job, but something to take pride in.
In complex organizations people have different needs when it comes to information, both with regards to amount of information and the way it is delivered. The communication plan on welfare technology requires a differentiated approach – both different target groups and different purposes.
- An analysis of all interested parties could be beneficial to a differentiated communication plan.
- Risk analysis and risk management should be a part of the communication plan, so efforts without effect or even with an undesired effect is identified and changed.
- External communication is very important. Welfare technology is not always portrayed positively within the media, so it is a good idea to have a continuously updated list of positive stories directed at different media outlets. This to keep continuity and momentum (also internally). This also to keep politicians pleased – if they are associated with positive stories.
- Consider the use of social media. Social media can provide a positive outlet for your communication needs. It is fast and easily accessible, which can help keep your target group continuously updated. It also provides a different and more direct aspect hitting different target groups than more traditional media outlets.
Back to top
What has having a communications plan meant to the CONNECT participants?
Having a communication plan ensures a better overall quality in your communication. It helps you deliver information at the right time and in the right way. It also helps you get better input from your organization, as you now have team players rather than individuals.
Back to top
Examples of communication plans from the CONNECT participants
Not all of the CONNECT participants have a formalized individual communication plan just for welfare technology (while all acknowledge the advantage of having one). Some has an overall communication plan, which they adapt while others have it as part of their strategy. All of the participating municipalities have thoughts and experiences with communicating on the work within welfare technology, so feel free to contact either for their practical insights.
Has formulated a communication plan for welfare technology. It structures internal and external communication be asking the basic questions – what, why, who, when, how etc. It is not available online, so please contact Västerås directly for more information (See Participants).
Back to top