Written by: Erica Niesse
Congratulations! If you’re beginning your configuration phase, you have just completed the most difficult phase in a Human Capital Management technology implementation: the requirements phase. Your team worked diligently to align areas of the business and streamline practices to come up with detailed business requirements. Now it is time for your implementation partner’s configuration team to take the requirements that you have gathered and set up the system, both from a functional and technical aspect. The purpose of the configuration phase is to take the future business processes defined in the Requirements and come up with the best solution for your needs. Unfortunately, this phase does not mean that it is time for you and your team to sit back and relax. There are a few key steps that the client side team needs to execute simultaneously while the configuration is being completed by the consulting partner’s implementation team.
What should the client be doing during configuration phase?
It’s time to think about testing:
Now that you have the detailed future business processes defined, it is time for the client to start thinking about building out a test plan. The test plan will detail the objectives and processes that your business will follow in the future state of the system, and the participants responsible for doing the testing. The test plan will include test cases that testers (different types of end users) would follow when testing the system to determine whether the test satisfies requirements. A good test case should include: employee needed to test (username/password), date range, steps for system navigation, expected results, actual results and whether the test case passed or failed. Detailed test cases will allow for the configuration team to quickly identify issues and turn them around to be retested as quickly as possible. If test cases are not clearly defined, this could cause an extended User Acceptance Testing (UAT) phase and an overall delay in the project.
If you are uncertain if your test cases will adequately test the system, your implementation partner should be able to review and work closely with you to assist you in building your test cases. Also, many partners offer testing preparation courses that will show you how to put together suitable test cases if you team is new to testing.
During the requirements phase, you defined the integration fields and files that will be needed for your implementation. While your consulting partner is away configuring the system and building the interfaces, this is a great time for you to gather the sample files based on the integration requirements. You will want to provide mock data extracts for a sample of your business, providing data for areas of the business that have difficult requirements. This will allow your implementation partner to unit test adequately based on the data.
Outside of creating test cases and preparing your sample data, you will also regularly be engaged by your implementation partner to dive into further details of your requirements. There will be some areas of the system that will require further solutioning so there will be some questions that will come back from the configuration team. Answering these questions in a timely manner will keep the project on track. Also during this phase, your team will want to start to look at future training opportunities for your team. Your implementation partner will provide some form of training, but you will want to understand what they offer and see if your team is interested in further training opportunities. This could include areas such as accessing the database, learning to self-configure or building reports outside of standard reports.
What is the configuration team working on during this phase?
The configuration team will work closely with the project team to make sure that there are not any loose ends in the business requirements and that the configuration deliverables will run smoothly. Often times there will be some discussions that will need to occur or documentation that needs to be adjusted to come up with a solution for complex requirements. A solution design period is often needed to determine the best procedures for complicated requirements. These solution requirements will be run by the client, but this is up to the configuration and functional analysts to come up with the best solution for your requirements based off of recommendations and best practices.
Configuration of Requirements/Interfaces defined in the Requirements Phase:
Now that the requirements have been nailed down for both the functional and technical business requirements, it is time for the configuration teams to start building. The configuration team will use the documents that you’ve worked through in the Requirements phase and also any Solution design documents as a guide for how to build the system. This is why it is crucial that adequate descriptions and examples are included in the requirements documentation to make sure that expectations are being met. A configuration checklist is often used to keep track of what has been completed and what percentage is still needed to be completed. The Project Manager will use this checklist as a guide to make sure that the Configuration tasks are on track and that deliverables are being met.
One of the most important jobs of the configuration analyst is to make sure that they are unit testing their work. This is a process where as requirements are built, the analyst will test their work and make sure that the system is behaving accurately. This also assures that they are testing other functional areas to make sure that their configuration items did not affect other areas of the system. The better the unit testing, the better the chances you have that QA and UAT will run smoothly.
Mid Config deliveries:
Often times in an implementation, you are not able to see the system until the end of Configuration and entering UAT. This will sometimes cause some uneasiness with clients with there being such a long period of time before they see the system in action. This is why sometimes a mid-config demo will be suggested to the client. This is generally a 1-2 hour session where the client is shown some of the initial setup of the system and able to ask questions about system nature and navigation. Another option is an informal discussion with your implementation consultant that will give the client a quick glance at the environment, and this could happen more times than a mid-config delivery. During configuration it is extremely difficult to give clients early access to the environment. The system is not stable until the end of this phase, so waiting until the end of this phase to gain access to the system is strongly recommended.
Quality Assurance (QA) Testing by Subject Matter Experts (SME):
The last step before configuration is turned over to the client is to test the system from end to end by doing Quality Assurance. This testing will most likely be performed by a functional analyst that was part of the requirements phase, but this can also be performed by someone with deep knowledge of the system. The tester will make sure that the configuration matches the requirements and that expectations are being met. Once the QA is complete the system is ready to be turned over to the client and Training/UAT can begin.
A successful configuration phase is the heart of a rewarding implementation. As long as the configuration team understands the requirement expectations and the requirement documents are thoroughly filled out this phase will run smoothly. With over a thousand successful HCM implementation projects over the past two decades, HRchitect is your best insurance policy to ensure success. Our services span from helping organizations create HCM technology strategic plans, evaluation and selection services for new or replacement systems, change management, and implementation services.
Erica Niesse is the Director of Workforce Management Consulting Services at HRchitect. Erica has over 9 years of experience guiding clients through successful Workforce Management system implementations.
* To learn more about other phases in a WFM implementation, see these additional blogs by Erica:
- Discovery Phase – the start of a successful Workforce Management (WFM) implementation
- Requirements Phase – The key in a successful WFM Implementation