The System Implementation Survival Guide

March 29, 2022

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Tips and Resources to help you be prepared to tackle your next project


Written by Ali Abbas


System implementation can be a painful process, but it doesn’t have to be if you take a few steps to prepare and set yourself up for success. I’ve put together a few tips that the most successful implementation project teams use to consistently ensure smooth projects, especially in the world of Human Capital Management (HCM) and Workforce Management (WFM) system implementations.

  • Assemble the team – Take time to assemble the right team for your system implementation. Find the right team members that are subject matter experts in their functional area. For example, if you are implementing a full-suite, some of the stakeholders you would want to include would be payroll, recruiting, compensation, benefits, etc. You will be drawing upon each person’s knowledge of their functional area throughout the project to understand the organization’s current state of processes and system configuration. These subject matter experts are best able to address the pain points of the current system and communicate gaps that they’d like the new system to address.It’s essential to include functional users from HR, Payroll, Finance & other team members that will be the end-users. These functional users will be able to provide input on their functionality needs and reporting requirements from the start to ensure these requirements are addressed. You don’t want to get to the end of the implementation only to find that a critical business need was missed and not addressed. Including these team members throughout the process can also result in less resistance to changing internal business processes along with new system deployment. These stakeholders will become organizational change champions as they will quickly see the value of a new system and the existing problems that will be resolved at the end of the implementation.


  • Do your homework – Do you know how your benefit premiums are calculated? How is your organization currently structured? Suppose your team members or you can’t answer questions like this or don’t know where to find this information. In that case, chances are your implementation consultant will have a hard time guessing as well. Reach out to your benefit plan brokers in advance and start gathering this information so you have as much time as possible to understand the specifics of your organization’s plan details.From a timeline perspective, it is important to gather this information as early as possible. It can take some time for brokers to provide this information, and sometimes the information is housed with multiple vendors. Obtaining this information early reduces the risk of project delays due to third-party information gathering.


  • Take your training – One of the key reasons why projects can go sideways is if sufficient training is not taken and not taken at the right time in the project. You want to ensure you are taking training for tasks that you will be able to use in that phase of the project so that it’s fresh in your mind. Then you can apply the knowledge from the training to your system, which is especially helpful if you are a kinesthetic learner. Suppose the end-user team does not take training. That can result in delays to the project, frustration, incorrect setup decisions, the database not being maintained correctly as well as increasing the risk of missing your go-live date.


  • Test, test, & test again – Test all the scenarios, all the calculations, and all the functionality that you’re expecting. Once you gain access to the system, ensure you thoroughly test your system setup before your go-live. Conducting thorough testing will help the team gain confidence working in the system and confidence that the system has been configured correctly. In addition, it will ensure that there are fewer (ideally no) surprises when you are processing your production payrolls in your live system. If you are waiting until you are live with a production payroll to identify and resolve issues, this can result in unnecessary stress upon the project team and employees whose paychecks may be impacted by errors. This is why we suggest that thorough testing is performed during the user acceptance and parallel testing phase of the implementation before the system goes live.


  • Communicate the impending system change early and often with your employees – Ensure that you’re communicating the upcoming change and how this will benefit the employee. Self-service functionality in an HRIS/Payroll system is something the modern employee expects, so this is a good time to get them excited about the functionality and information that they will soon have at their fingertips. Make sure you’re keeping them up to date on when they will be getting access, what they will have access to, and how they will be able to access the system. Many teams are spread thin while working on a system implementation, and omit, or do the bare minimum with change communication. Adding change management consulting services on to your system implementation consulting project can help ensure user adoption of the new system.


I’ve found these five strategies have contributed to the successful rollout of a new HCM or WFM system.  I personally ensure each of my clients take these tips to heart as well. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of everything that will make your project go smoothly, but it’s a great starting point. If you’d like to learn more tips to make sure you survive your organization’s next system implementation, request a complimentary consultation here.


Ali Abbas, SHRM-SCP, PCP, CHRP/CPHR, is a Senior Implementation Consultant and brings over 10 years of HR/Payroll and system implementation expertise, with a focus on HRIS, to the HRchitect team. Ali has vast experience working in both the private and public sectors. Ali brings strong functional and technical expertise and best practices to his client engagements, drawing from his years of successful system implementations.

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