Why Pre-Planning is Crucial to a Successful Implementation

September 22, 2015

The most important part of implementing an HR system is pre-planning, which also includes documentation. Pre-planning not only includes the authorization of the implementation, but also planning at each stage and decision point during the implementation.

First, it is important to ensure you have executive buy-in. Next, you need to validate user involvement, have a clear business need and requirements, defined and available resources, and any other back-up documentation. Pre-planning will provide the foundation for many of these additional factors and will prove to be most important to ensure success, longevity and scalability; at least from my experience.

When implementing an HR system, a common mistake is where stakeholders focus too much on the end result, while overlooking pre-planning or the tasks of defining the path and options to get from “Point A” to “Point B.” For example, a client may say, “Show me dashboards,” but you should ask them “what is important to you?” Another may want to “set up security,” but first you will need to inquire, “what types of access do you require?” It is near impossible to deliver an acceptable result if you cannot define the need.

I recall one client insisting on creating a two-hour process to run a regular report that no one used; a process that could have been automated and one they did not want to otherwise define. A lack of pre-planning inevitably increased the risk of poor quality, wasted time and unnecessary work.

Seems like common sense, right? The mistake of overlooking pre-planning is frequent because the end-result in HR systems is often abstract. In addition, the technology and tools of today are often new to companies and not fully understood. Further, pre-planning can be a time-consuming process and a burden in today’s fast-paced workforce. As a result, the tendency is to try to put the abstract into a tangible form without due consideration of the options, or to simply forgo planning due to time constraints.

Many companies go live with a system, and then want to make changes or have found a serious flaw with the processing. They may have even lost a key resource.   The adjustments needed may be prohibited, because they had not done enough pre-planning and have little knowledge of how the system was set-up. Rework, lost time, extra resources and other costs will be required.

So how do companies combat the obstacles to pre-planning? There are many tools used to facilitate this. Prototypes, flowcharts, diagrams are examples of tools to give visual representations. Engaging experts and user communities can help set expectations with experiences. Training and demos can give exposure to options. SharePoint, meeting minutes and tracking spreadsheets are also tools companies have used to track their pre-planning efforts.

In short, there is no substitute to spending the upfront time to pre-plan options and a path to success. It will not guarantee all the answers, but it will save cost, time and resources over the long-term. It will make you more agile in your decision-making, and hopefully, happier with your results.

Fortunately this is one of the many services that HRchitect provides, which will enable your organization to “hit the ground running” upon the implementation of your selected HR System, and will help to ensure meeting your desired system live date.