Lean Implementation Staffing Bites the Hand!

February 9, 2015

Written by: Eric Frokjer

One of the things I’ve experienced while doing implementations the past few years is how many of these implementations can slip the go live dates, often multiple times because of lean staffing.  “Lean and mean” staffing may be good for the bottom line, but it seems to hurt when you need to implement a major new system, like an HRMS/HRIS.

Many organizations are often challenged with managing unmanageable work volumes with their available staff.  Resources who are already working 50 to 70 hours a week don’t have time for the additional time commitment involved in a major project.  This may cause staff to feel overwhelmed with high work volumes.  Organizations who have employees working long hours due to work volume, may need to consider bringing in additional resources prior to the commencement of the implementation to train and to handle the more clerical/administrative functions of a particular job(s).  Though budget is always a concern, in the long run it’s probably a cost effective solution to ensuring your key people are involved in the implementation process when required and it also helps with the day-to-day tasks at hand, leaving the experts to work on the more important issues and/or be available when required.

In order that there should be a successful systems implementation, there should be a commitment from all the team players.  Frequent communication with individual staff members is important so as to identify any areas needing immediate attention.  Any absences, planned or unplanned should be taken into account during this time.  A good approach to this is to make sure there is a solid backup plan. An example of this includes a detailed cross-training system.  This requires a strong team group approach, and building a sense of teamwork in a group is very important.

In addition, a clear and detailed outline of duties, goals and timelines are essential and should be communicated to all involved in the project for successful completion and on time outcome of an implementation.  This should be included in the project plan outlining each impacted staff member with their commitment of involvement every step of way, from the beginning to the end.

Important areas impacted during an implementation due to Operational commitments are:

  • Training – In addition to offsite courses offered at a training site, modern software companies often offer multiple training methods, such as virtual or e-learning courses, but time may still be a crunch.  Training is important, especially prior to or during analysis so the client understands system functionality which can drive how the system is set up.
  • Analysis Meetings – When the client subject matter experts can’t make onsite or virtual analysis meetings, either the product configuration is not as well thought out and/or the timeline keeps moving.
  • Configuration data – Data mapping may be incorrect, translation values missed or invalid and data compiled hurriedly and data “scrubbing” may be incomplete if handled by less knowledgeable resources.
  • Testing – needs to be done by experienced client resources to reinforce training, confirm system configuration and the development of use test cases should be built by those resources.
  • Project Plan – Upper Management may be committed to a project plan and start dates, but that commitment may not roll down to the subject matter expert(s), whose “real” job has priority over project work.  Clients may make commitments to or ignore due dates that slip due to Operational commitments.
  • Project resources – Do you bring in someone to do the client’s operational work, which will involve training that person to understand how the client’s policies and procedures, or do you bring someone in who you have to train to be the subject matter expert?  Either will take more time from the original team member who is already over-worked.
  • Operational hindrances – Acquisitions & downsizing, Benefits Open Enrollment and cyclical processes like Payroll and Year-end also have impact on a project.  Holidays, vacation, medical leave and absences have an impact.

Being lean can hurt the implementation of a system if the appropriate planning is not taken into consideration.  Even before an implementation is started, an important planning factor is your staff.  Appropriately staffing the day to day tasks and those that will be required on the implementation project is instrumental to the success of the systems implementation.  Who does what? Who is on call? etc.

The bottom line is that being lean should not hurt a project.  An organization should start by:

  • Identifying the best resources and ensure that everyone is on board and agrees to the timeline.
  • Each member has a clear understanding of the importance of their role in the project.
  • A staffing plan is in place, with additional resources to handle day to day work and/or brought up to speed on client policies and procedures so they can participate as a project team member.

With all of this in mind, the client can have a successful and timely implementation of an HRMS/HRIS.

HRchitect offers pre-implementation services for the implementation of any Human Capital Management (HCM) system. Pre-Implementation Planning is a vital process that enables organizations to “hit the ground running” upon the initiation of the implementation of your selected HCM System and will help to ensure meeting your desired system live date.  It is your best risk-mitigation insurance and highly recommended.