By Jessica Keartland – Head of Consulting.
These days, we all hear about “fast, agile” implementations of software, that it should be “quick and simple” and even that there is “no need for a design workshop”. This sounds almost too good to be true, and perhaps this is because it is in fact too good to be true! There is a real danger of assuming that implementing HR software is “easy” and “quick” and can be implemented without much effort. However, the reality – ask anyone who has implemented recently – is very different. Even though software is standardising and focussing on simplification, businesses, their people and their processes are not standard and usually not simple. The complexity of an implementation of a new HR system and associated processes should not be underestimated.
Over the past 20 years of working on and overseeing HR and Payroll implementations, I have seen the same mistakes and assumptions made many times over, regardless of the type of implementation being used. If project sponsors, project managers and key stakeholders on the client side are aware of these before the project even begins, and plan accordingly, then the project will have a significantly more successful outcome. There is a real challenge these days to want to implement in a really short timescale – which is more achievable now than ever before – but this should not be done so fast that the business cannot keep up.
The 4 key mistakes made by clients when it comes to implementing new HR software are:
1. Software might come “out of the box” but your business processes and system integrations still need to be adapted to align with it.
- Therefore, it’s not as simple as installing an app and workshops to review the impact on current business processes and business users are vital
- Change management is critical to the successful roll-out of the new software and processes too and cannot be underestimated
2. Accelerated project implementations mean that the speed of overall project and therefore decision making required within the project is always underestimated.
- It is vital that business process owners are available to attend all key design workshops which means at least 60% of their time during the design phase, and 30% during the build phase
3. Data, data, data. The amount of time and complexity of preparing, and extracting data should not be underestimated
- No matter what system (or set of spreadsheets) your data is currently stored in, no matter how automated, the mapping of data and the extraction thereof takes more effort that is considered – pretty much always
- The shorter, sharper projects mean that there is even less time available to prepare data in the formats and quality than was traditionally available, making it even more pressurised
- It is therefore vital to nominate a data owner as well as a dedicated technical resource (or two if needs be) to focus entirely on data and data readiness for the project
4. Testing isn’t just about testing the system (which is vital) it is also a vital part of taking ownership of the new system and finalising the impact on business processes as well as the training and change management requirements.
- Some customers ask why they should test the system – why can’t the system implementors test it on their behalf. We strongly recommend against this as by the time the system is signed off post-testing, you would still not have a good grasp and understanding on what using the system – in detail – will mean for your own business
- Key to testing is careful planning – allocate a test lead (who has got experience of doing this or project management before) who is responsible to ensuring that test scenarios, test scripts and test planning down to task level is thoroughly prepared before testing begins
In conclusion, the more involved your HR team are in the design and implementation of your new HR system, the better aligned the new revised business processes will be and the better prepared your team and the business will be for the new system go live. In short, the more involved you are, the more successful an outcome the project will have. And the more likely to achieve the benefits the project set out to achieve.
For more information on implementing new HR software, get in touch here. Thanks for reading!