We have had a number of website visitors pose the question: “When does mentoring software become a necessary component of a mentoring program?”
While there is no right or definitive answer, we want to explain where we draw the line based on previous experience and clients we have worked with. When does mentoring software go from being a probably not necessary – to a great investment.
Here are a few criteria you should assess.
How many people in your program?
We recommend exploring the use of mentoring software at 40+ mentoring program participants – or 20 mentor-mentee pairings.
Because at 40 people, things start to get messy, time-consuming and inconsistent when conducted manually. The onboarding and matching parts of the mentoring program (pre-mentorship) start to become very admin intensive – while communicating with participants and keeping track of the program becomes almost impossible.
Many of our clients start their programs at around the 40 or 50 person mark, and scale the size of their program as they go (and as they see positive outcomes).
Do you envision scaling your mentoring program?
Another major reason for deploying mentoring software is that mentoring is becoming an increasingly important facet of your organisations toolbelt, whether that is for cultural, new hire training, learning and development, or inclusion purposes.
If this is the case, it’s the right time to find a more specialised tool, so that you can effectively and efficiently scale mentoring to more of your employees, students, or members.
If your mentoring program is currently 10 pairs, but you plan on scaling it to 50 or 100 more pairs, then you just as well become acquainted with mentoring software (with a pilot of 20-50 people) and utilise all of its benefits now – as it is going to be completely necessary moving forward.
Once the benefits and results of mentoring are taking root, scaling these benefits is as simple as sending out an invite form to any new mentors and/or mentees.
Do you have mentoring program expertise?
Another reason for purchasing mentoring software is that you just aren’t quite sure how to build an effective mentoring program.
Mentoring programs are tough; they involve a lot of coordination and preparation, and they impact your people directly. They are something you really do want to get right (or at least very close to right).
Mentoring software provides an instant framework for your program; it comes with everything you need to get your program from start to finish – straight out of the box. All of the onboarding tools and criteria; all of the matching tools; all of the resources and content; and all of the measuring and tracking capabilities.
In essence, your great mentoring program builds itself.
Do you have any spare time?
Time is an extremely valuable commodity, and not many of us have much to spare. A lot of our mentoring program coordinators aren’t mentoring program coordinators by trade – which means that starting and running a mentoring program is not their core competency – nor is it supposed to command a significant portion of their time.
For this reason, many learning and development, HR, or diversity and inclusion professionals choose to assess the high opportunity cost of managing the program, and instead opt to buy a software platform which takes care of all the manual and time-intensive tasks.
Then it’s simply a matter of maintaining oversight – and getting your normal work done.
Do you want to track and measure mentoring program success?
And lastly, if measuring and reporting on mentoring program success is a part of your mentoring wish-list, then mentoring software is a must.
Mentoring software enables you to capture communication frequency and program engagement (even communication via email), which is impossible without software.
Measurement has been a historical weakness of the organisational mentoring program, with organisations loving the premise and perceived results of mentoring but struggling to quantify them in an ROI like fashion.
This is where software becomes invaluable. The inputs of mentoring can be measured and analysed – as can the outputs.
As a marketer by trade, I understand many of the pros and cons of going down the software route too late.
Often times, you only get to that aha moment when you start using a software platform (post-purchase), and only then do you understand the extent of your wasted (non-optimised) time.
Just like with mentoring, there is a point in the marketing and marketing professional lifecycle – whether that point be based on growth, budget, headcount or goals – that investing in software is smart. And then a slightly later point when it is absolutely necessary.
Software saves time; it saves hassle; it saves money; and it’s often a much better way of completing the task/s at hand.