Written by Nathan Meles
It’s no secret that all HCM system implementations have risks. No matter the type of system, rollout approach, or stakeholder groups involved, every implementation project has variables that can impact the cost, efficiency, and overall success. In my personal experience as a consultant, I’ve spotted vital project areas that, left unaddressed, can morph into failures impacting your system implementation.
- Lack of preparation.
Successful implementations are often labor-intensive; thus, these types of projects require intricate planning. One of the most straightforward failures to avoid is coming into the project unprepared. Using the example of a new time & attendance system implementation, some of the items you should go into the project equipped with would include detailed outlines of current policies for time entry, time off, overtime and premium pay, and union contracts. Not having current processes documented at the start of the implementation is one of the most common reasons for delays in the first phase of your system implementation, requirements gathering. It is not ideal to fall behind schedule in any stage of your project, let alone the very first phase.
- Lack of resources dedicated to the implementation.
By resources, I mean both the people from your organization who will participate in the project, and the time they have available to dedicate to the project. Your implementation partner’s role is to lead the project, doing most of the “heavy lifting” and guiding your team to make the best system design choices and processes. No matter how great your implementation partner is, what they cannot do is entirely replace the need for your team to weigh in during the project. If you hired a wedding planner, you wouldn’t give that person a license to plan your wedding with zero input or involvement from you. You’d have initial meetings to determine what you’re envisioning, and subsequent meetings with your planner throughout the planning process where you’d make decisions on other details for your big day. Overall though, your wedding planner would do most of the work. In parallel to the implementation project, your implementation partner is the wedding planner, and the people from your organization working on the project are the people getting married. We understand that you and your colleagues have full-time day jobs, and for some, getting involved in an implementation may mean taking on a little extra work. Still, the more time your project team members can dedicate to the project, the more likely it is that the project timeline will stay on track and that the system implementation, including user adoption, will be successful.
- Lack of project ownership.
In addition to dedicating resources (people and time), the project team should have a clear sense of ownership over the project. By ownership, I mean a sense of knowing who has the authority to make project decisions and that the person/people with that authority are empowered to make those decisions and excited about the project. Naturally, those with project ownership should be a part of the core project team. When project ownership is unclear, or if the person with the decision-making authority is not involved in the project (requiring the project team to run all decisions by an outside person), projects are negatively impacted, especially in terms of efficiency and sticking with the project timeline. Some organizations may want to include executives in the core project team for clear ownership.
In contrast, other organizations may choose to have an executive steering committee to lend support to the project, while project ownership lies with the core project team. Overall, risks associated with a lack of project ownership are typically more complicated to mitigate than other project risks. Regardless of who has ownership of the project, those people should be motivated by increased job efficiency, increased employee accessibility, and the return on investment that will result from the successful system implementation.
- Lack of flexibility.
The logical time to review and adjust current HR processes and policies at your organization is before you start, or at the very beginning of your implementation project. Even if reviewing and campaigning for policy changes requires a bit of leg work, it is vastly more efficient to make policy changes at the start of your implementation than when your consulting partner is halfway (or completely) done designing your system than it is to procrastinate reviewing current policies. Approaching an implementation without a mindset of flexibility, or even resistance to following industry best practices makes a project substantially more likely to fail or come in over budget. While some areas of your organization’s policies are not going to be flexible, such as union contracts and local or state laws, other aspects of your new system can be streamlined on the back end, such as locations or departments. Your consulting partner will make recommendations for areas to consider process changes. After all, it is their job to help you make the best decisions for your future-state business needs and your system configuration to help protect your organization’s financial investment in HCM technology.
So what does this mean for those of you implementing a new HCM or WFM system? Before starting your implementation project, ask your implementation partner for guidance on how to mitigate the four failures I’ve discussed today. A credible strategic consulting firm should be well-prepared to help you identify and mitigate these risks. After all, successful system implementations aren’t your day job. Lucky for you, at HRchitect, they’re ours.
With experience drawn from thousands of HCM and WFM system implementations that our team has lead over the past two decades, the HRchitect team is ready to help make your next HCM or WFM technology project a success.
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.
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