Written by Laura Palulis
There are five primary stages (phases) involved in implementing every new HR and Payroll system in the marketplace: plan, discover, build/configure, test, and deploy. Although there is usually some toggling between the stages, a typical implementation will spend a decent amount of time in each stage. As a result, it is common for clients and consultants to sometimes feel like they are stuck in a particular phase. At times like this, I break out my ultimate implementation playlist to motivate me and keep me focused on the goals of the current project phase.
Here are the songs and lyrics that help me through each phase of the implementation process.
Plan phase theme song: “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor
“It’s the eye of the tiger,
It’s the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger.”
The lyrics to this song are all about focus. A tiger intently stares at its prey and never loses sight of it. These lyrics are a clear metaphor for the beginning of implementation and the planning stage. There is already an enormous amount of work to do at this point, and it can seem daunting, especially because the prize is a long way off. However, thinking about the powerful music and the lyrics to this song can help keep your focus on both the long-term goal of a successful go-live and the short-term goal of moving on to the discovery phase.
Discover phase theme song: “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash
“I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day.”
The Discover phase is all about vision. The consultant’s goal is to learn as much as possible about the client, their business methodology, their legacy system, what currently works well for them, and what does not work so well.
The client’s goal is to learn better ways to do things in the new system and envision the path from the current state to the future state. It is normal during this phase to get caught up in the weeds. There are many questions asked of clients as consultants dig deep to figure out the best path toward improving system configuration and business processes. However, at the end of the discovery phase, there should be a clear vision of the problems, obstacles, and bright sunny workdays to come when those problems are long gone. It is necessary to focus on the issues to truly see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Build phase theme song: “I Will Fix You” by Coldplay
“When you try your best, but you don’t succeed,
when you get what you want but not what you need.
When you feel so tired, but you can’t sleep,
stuck in reverse.
When the tears come streaming down your face,
when you lose something you can’t replace.
When you love someone but it goes to waste.
Could it be worse?
Lights will guide you home
and ignite your bones
and I will try to fix you.”
The Build phase, also called configuration, is exciting for both the consultant and the client. The consultant can finally start building the system to meet the client’s needs and expectations. The client is beginning to see the project come to fruition. However, the process of building any HCM system is rarely perfect the first time. There will be some back and forth and tweaking settings and processes to get the details right. Inevitably, rules will be built and will need to be wiped out and rebuilt. Remember that your consultant is there to build and rebuild as many times as necessary to get things right. It is entirely normal to feel stuck in reverse at times during the build phase but know that your consultant will do everything in their power to get things right for you.
Test phase theme song: “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone
What doesn’t kill you makes you a fighter
Footsteps even lighter
Doesn’t mean I’m over cause you’re gone
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Consultants and clients alike often feel that the testing phase is the most difficult of all the stages. A testing plan needs to be developed, calculations need to be tested, and comparisons need to be made to the legacy system. Then this is repeated for at least two tests of the new system. It can be discouraging to find problems that need to be fixed in this stage, but that is normal and part of the process. The whole point of testing is to break things in the system. Finding issues during testing can be frustrating but it usually means you have done a great job developing and implementing your test plan. Most importantly, finding issues during testing means that you can address and eliminate issues before your hundreds or thousands of end-users find them. Testing can be exhausting but being thoughtful and thorough in this phase creates a better end-product, a much stronger system.
Deploy phase theme song: “We are the Champions” by Queen
“I’ve paid my dues
Time after time
I’ve done my sentence
But committed no crime
And bad mistakes
I’ve made a few
I’ve had my share of sand
Kicked in my face
But I’ve come through
We are the champions, my friends
And we’ll keep on fighting till the end
We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the champions of the World.”
These lyrics sum up all the emotions felt after system go-live. There has been an incredible amount of consideration and effort put into deploying the system. At this point, you’ve overcome all of the challenges in the prior four phases. Now is the time to appreciate all the effort and be proud of the result. So celebrate your hard-fought and well-deserved victory and sing this song out loud!
If you’re looking for a consulting firm to help with your next system implementation, reach out to the team at HRchitect. Our consultants average 15+ years of experience with HCM systems and are former practitioners, so they’ve been in your shoes.
Learn more about Laura Palulis
Laura Palulis is a Senior Implementation Systems Consultant with HRchitect, the leader in HCM systems strategic consulting. Laura has over 20 years of experience in the payroll and tax field and was an Ultimate Software (UKG Pro) customer for 18 years. When not working with customers, Laura can be found hiking, quilting, and traveling the world. She was recently highlighted in the March 2021 edition of PAYTECH Magazine recognized for her service as an ONLINE HOTLINE VOLUNTEER.
Read more of Laura’s blog posts