By Nathan Meles
In the Human Capital Management world, implementing new systems can be a very daunting task. Planning, resources, time; it takes a lot out of our teams to get a project to completion. By the end of the project, that go-live finish line can be all we are focused on. Eager as we may be to start reaping that return on investment with our new HCM system, it’s important not to forget about a major part of every project’s lifecycle that can be crucial to getting the most out of that ROI; support. In a perfect world, our newly completed implementations would be perfect – free of any issues or changes at rollout. The reality is that no matter how great our test plans are and how thorough our requirements may be, the real world is the only way to truly validate our systems. Real employees, processes, and interfaces bring real changes and questions that need to be applied and answered. Not addressing these questions and changes can result in expensive workarounds and inefficiencies. So, before you take that sigh of relief at go-live, make sure you protect that new investment and are set up for success with supporting that new system.
We all know the number one goal of system administrators is probably to not need support at all. Though this is most likely not a realistic goal, there are steps you can take to reach for it. The most important step prior to go-live is training. It is crucial that the core team responsible for the new system receives the training they need to not only maintain the system, but also train other end users and field questions from your organization. This is referred to as “train the trainer” training. Invest in in-depth training prior to go-live so this team of core users can properly perform their tasks and then educate the organization on the new processes and changes. Not to mention, turnaround time on simple questions is much faster when they can be answered within your organization instead of reaching out to a third party.
With all that training under the core team’s belts, it would all go to waste without a proper communication plan for supporting the new system. When rolling out to production, make sure the end users have access to training materials to cut down on the volume of unnecessary questions and issues, as well as provide a clear channel of communication to receive support if it is needed. This typically flows up from the end users to the core group of administrators that have been trained to maintain the system. It is important to realize that this channel does not stop there, however. These administrators need a clearly defined channel of communication with either the vendor or partner supporting them, in the event that a question or issue arises that your core team cannot answer or address. This communication plan should include single points of contact and visibility into questions or issues to prevent redundancy and include all parties in the communication to ensure support is efficient and effective, not to mention administrators agree on any updates or changes requested.
The final tier of support success is making sure your support plan is right for your implementation, as support can have a wide range of meanings with a new system. It could be something like a toll-free number you can call when you have questions or a contract for continued work after the system is live. Depending on the system and its complexity, any resource in this range can be appropriate. However, in the realm of new HCM systems with custom requirements, I would always recommend securing a bucket of hours for post go-live support, preferably with the partner that worked on the implementation. Despite all parties best efforts, there are going to be requirements that are not quite correct and variables such as union contracts or local regulations can always bring unplanned change. Small tweaks to calculations and interfaces can be handled easily with this kind of support and utilizing the team that knows your system and requirements from the implementation phase brings added efficiency and reduced cost.
What does this all mean for you? If you are preparing for an implementation, in the middle of one, or even just completed a project, set yourself up for support success! Prepare trainings, documentation, and change management in addition to setting up the support plan that is best for you. At HRchitect, we cherish our relationship with our clients. We not only have years of experience guiding clients to the system that’s right for their organization, we also have years of experience implementing HCM systems and partnering with our clients to train, manage the change process, and support them post-go-live to protect and ensure their new investment continues working best for them.
About Nathan Meles, Senior Implementation Consultant
Nathan Meles is a Senior Implementation Consultant at HRchitect with over 6 years of experience with HCM technology. Nathan specializes in workforce management having previously worked as a support engineer and product manager for nuclear, fatigue management, compliance, Time & Attendance and reporting products at WorkForce Software.