Preventing the Horror Movie Syndrome In Your HR System Implementation

December 28, 2016

Written by: Elissa Montoya

As a blonde, I’ve heard a TON of blonde jokes, including how the blonde always dies first in horror movies, and often that is true. However, even the sacrificial blonde could survive if she would just use that common sense that is so painfully obvious to all of us in the audience, and yet seems to be ever elusive to every single person in every single horror movie who ever ended up dead.

Reading one of the many “What I learned from horror movies” articles the other night, it occurred to me that those same rules could serve you well in any life situation and can easily be applied to all the implementations I have been involved with.  And there have been a lot of them.  Almost as many as the blonde jokes I had to endure throughout my college years.

Consider these rules before you implement anything. Then reread them pretty much every day of your implementation. Then do me a favor and let me know how it went.  Which I know you will be able to do because you will have made it through alive!

  1. Pay attention!

As crazy as it may sound, even the most engaged and passionate organizations can spend a boat load of money on a new application, plus implementation, and then check out.  Staying engaged from day one until close out is hard, and you will have off days.  Assuming everyone else in the room is paying attention means everyone in the room is making the same assumption.  Ask thought-provoking questions of your stakeholders, and of yourself.  Challenge yourself to extract at least one meaningful learn, win, or risk avoidance in every meeting.

  1. Trust your gut.

Yes, someone said it’s fun and all the cool kids are doing it. Don’t just take their word for it. Do your homework and if something doesn’t feel right, ask more questions and challenge decisions being made.  Often in business, we rely 100% on facts. Facts are important, but so are feelings.  Especially if you know your organization and you know your business process.  All your digging will make consultants like me crazy, but we will see that you are paying attention.  That’s rule Number One.  It takes a lot of time to learn a company’s culture. Leverage the fact that you already know it, which often consultants do not.

3. Use the buddy system.

Almost every single implementation starts with a bang and a huge team of people who have been identified including SMEs (subject matter experts), stakeholders, champions, and so on.  It’s not unusual to have a kick off meeting with 50 people in attendance, depending on the size of your organization.  Six months later you’re still plodding away on weekly calls that maybe three people attend.  Most implementations do not require a huge team, but successful ones do require a team of some kind. The kid who went to the basement alone, even though you screamed at the TV not to go, gets eaten by the monster.  A well-meaning, hard-working individual contributor can get eaten by an implementation just as easily.  There are politics, downstream and cross-functional impacts, and voluminous amounts of work. Share the load, share in decisions, and don’t let yourself get stuck out there alone.

4. Don’t take short cuts.

After hundreds or even thousands of hours of work, even a tiny short cut will sound amazingly attractive.  Of course there are calculated risks that may make sense, but that dark alley, or that new feature straight out of beta is generally a very, very bad idea.  If you want to take the risks associated, apply rule Number Three; as well as a healthy dose of testing.

Now just to switch things up and ensure you that I’ve thought about this, I am going to mention one more, but it’s a “reverse rule.”  Never do this in a horror movie, but try to do it regularly during an implementation.

  1. Look in the mirror.

In this case, do it as a team and as an organization.  Are you capturing and reflecting your culture, your mission, vision, and your values in the tool you are deploying?  Even the most out of the box solutions can, and should support not just who you are as an organization, but who you work very hard to be.

I’m looking forward to hearing your amazing, and completely without any type of horror stories!  Maybe I will even have the opportunity to be part of one of them, and we can review these rules together.

At HRchitect we can help to eliminate all the horror stories you have ever heard about HR technology.  We can provide you with services to create an HCM Technology Strategy, expert evaluation and selection services, change management, implementation, and project management for all your HR technology solutions.


Elissa Montoya's photo


About Elissa Montoya

Elissa is an HR professional with over 15 years of HR experience in the world of Talent Acquisition, General Human Resources & Project Managmeent. Throughout her career, Elissa has worked with companies across many industries from small to Fortune 500 with a focus on optimizing their Recruiting and Onboarding processes and managing large scale projects.

In her role at HRchitet, she acts as both project manager and functional consultant on the implementation team. Elissa is both a certified Project Management Professional and a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources.