Looking at implementing mentoring software into your business? There are several key points to consider as you perform your mentoring software comparison.
1. Flexible Configuration
Mentoring is an amazing tool because it fulfills multiple purposes such as knowledge transfer, boosted retention rates, increased employee engagement, etc. Considering what your ultimate goals are, there are several different formats that might fit your goals best.
Mentoring can be dynamic and the right model to address your current situation might not be the right approach a few months down the road. You need to make sure that the software you choose can handle what your needs currently are, but also meet the demands of the future as the program expands.
The software you choose should support a wide range of mentoring program formats, be able to shift formats and run multiple formats at the same time for a blended mentoring experience seeking to accomplish multiple goals.
Here are a few of the basic mentoring options to consider:
- Traditional: a mentee and mentor form a one-on-one relationship that typically lasts several months.
- Situational mentoring: a mentee sets up sessions with a mentor, advisor or coach to assist in a certain subject. This is perfect for topical or session-based mentoring.
- Mentoring circles: In this format, specific topics or areas of learning are focused on. Mentoring circles have many members who come and go over time. Typically, the purpose of mentor circles is to facilitate knowledge sharing or provide a supportive environment for specific groups of people.
- Group mentoring: a single mentor can provide information and guidance to a group of mentees, and in turn the mentees can also provide knowledge and learning to each other.
2. Intelligent matching
This can be the most delicate part of a mentoring program. If you can’t match people correctly, you won’t build successful relationships and the program won’t get off the ground. The best Mentoring Software will use algorithms to determine great matches, but to really pull this off you need more than cool software. You need compatibility matching in your algorithm to ensure high learning potential.
The quality of the software plays a huge role in creating successful matches and gives you the ability to control the parameters of how matching is done. Software offerings vary wildly and many offer a “one-size-fits-all” algorithm with little to no configurability.
It’s important to think about the kinds of matching you will require if you are planning to use mentoring in multiple ways. A strong leadership development program requires hand matching. Bulk matching is different and allows the admin to work with the software to set up parameters in detail and match hundreds of participants simultaneously. When there is a large influx of participants, mentor/mentee self-matching can be best but the software has to be user friendly and simple to use for this work. The best software matching algorithm will offer you a dozen ways to match to meet your specific needs.
3. Guided Flows
So everyone is matched. The algorithms and carefully laid out parameters were used and everyone seems happy with their mentors and mentees. Now what?
Left unguided, mentoring relationships generally start out strong but then falter over time. Relationships need guidance and the structure provided by your software and program act as a map for growth. How much guidance and structure you use depends on the type of program and goals you are trying to accomplish. Some programs ideally have a guiding structure while others do best with detailed controls like weekly tasks and progress tracking. Good software should be flexible and allow you to experiment.
A few good questions to ask when evaluating software are:
- Do the plans provide goal-setting?
- Can admins view progress along the way?
- Can mentoring plans be changed at any time?
4. Robust Reporting
Your reporting needs will vary and evolve as the mentoring program rolls out. Most organizations track overall program activity and outcomes. Participation of particular demographics (i.e. a business unit or location) and connection progress are common reports that are used to monitor progress.
A good way to evaluate the reporting capability of software is to put together a list of program, connection and participant questions you would like to have answered. Using this list, you can look and see if the software is flexible enough to meet your needs and provide you with the data you want. It is vital to find out what information the software is gathering, how it is gathered and what reports it can generate. As a tip, an embedded survey took will make your life significantly easier if you want participant feedback.
When assessing software it’s important to make sure it can meet your current needs, but you also need to consider the future when your mentoring program grows. There are two key aspects to think about when scaling. The first is within the program itself. As the program grows you’ll need to adjust your program’s structure and format. Ensure the software solutions you’re considering have the built-in flexibility to make changes on the fly as you go.
The second key aspect is the growth of mentoring across the organization. Many organizations run multiple types of mentoring programs simultaneously to achieve various objectives. For example, an organization could easily run a career development program concurrent to mentoring circles. Consider how many more participants you may want in the future, and how easy and cost effective it’ll be to scale as you make your decision about your mentoring software provider.
6. Best Practices & Supports
Mentoring programs, just like the unique situations in each business, can vary greatly and are tailored to organizational needs. You will need help to weigh your options to effectively implement software, configure it to fit your needs and fine-tune your program over time. Be sure to ask what implementation services are offered and what each vendor’s support model is during and post implementation. You will want a software company that provides ongoing support such as training and advice. Your software company should be your partner and coach as you make your program the best it can be.
7. Mobile Accessibility
For many, especially millennials, it’s simply more convenient to complete online tasks on a smartphone or tablet than to sit down at a computer, so the software you choose has to have mobile accessibility. Make sure the software is either mobile optimized or is available via an app and that it offers the full functionality of the mentoring system for use.
This list of mentoring software comparison features should give you a strong starting point when it comes to choosing your new partner. But most importantly, keep in my mind what your own program will require and what your specific organizational goals are. We wish you luck with your search and we hope you consider contacting Mentor Resources to see if we are a good fit for you. We have been an industry leader for years and have mastered the entire mentoring process from mapping out initial goals to implementing software and executing perfect matches. Reach out to us today for a free demonstration.