This is a guest contribution from HR implementation expert, Lauren DeFilippo Gander, President at HR Software Solutions.
Is your company’s current HR system out of date? Do you have an online system for employees to use? Use the end of 2016 as the time to review your HR systems and practices. Decide if an upgrade is on your road map for next year. Implementing a new HR information system is an arduous, important task that every company should treat with care.
Selecting a system
With the right HR system in place, businesses can operate with agility. Due to the immense value of these HR solutions, many vendors offer these systems to companies.
Selecting a software provider is time-consuming and expensive. It’s critical for organizations to do it right the first time. You should also remember that HR systems are not plug-and-play. They need to be tailored to the particular demands of a company.
PlusHR.com says, “It goes without saying that you should see a range of suppliers before deciding on your system. It can be helpful to put together a simple scoring criteria to help you assess the suppliers against your various requirements. Don’t just focus on the technical attributes of the software, also consider the knowledge and experience of the supplier’s team, the company’s financial stability and the quality of their support, data protection and hosting arrangements. When it comes to checking references, it is worth the effort to actually visit the referee organizations and speak to some of the actual users of the system. Obviously cost will be an important factor; ensure you fully understand all the costs involved, both up-front and ongoing, including ‘extras’ such as system customization, maintenance, training and hosting.”
Consider purchasing a software solution to help you narrow down your choices. We’re partial to SelectHub. After a thorough system selection process, you’ll be ready to install. We recommend hiring an HRIS consultant to coach you through the entire procedure.
Key considerations when implementing an HRIS
1. How to stay on time and within budget
The quickest ways to disappoint during an HRIS implementation, especially in the eyes of senior management, is to go over budget and past your “go live” date. The best way to stay on time and within budget is to set proper expectations up front. No leading with “best case scenario” or “if we cut a corner here we can save $x” – only the truth will do. Everyone will be happier for it. Build in a small contingency budget as a buffer, say 10% or so.
Staying on track is easier with a written plan detailing the scope of the project.
Outlining objectives, proposed budget, and general timeline will keep the project on track. Stakeholders will work towards the same documented goals, limiting miscommunications and settling disagreements. This document will include all functionality, as well as workflows and reporting. Functionality is sorted beforehand, so there will be no last-minute requests that could impact budgeting. The project plan is unique for every company, as the system conforms to business’ needs.
2. Who will be on the implementation and feedback team?
Get employees, the actual end-users, involved as soon as possible. You’ll get critical perspective from both management and individual contributors. Include key departments in the process, such as IT, payroll, finance, recruiting, etc. There will be a host of changes to be communicated to employees in all departments. Having inter-departmental acceptance is important.
Technical knowledge on your feedback team is preferred, but not required. The HRIS team leader and management should choose the feedback team with care. Pick those who are willing and have the bandwidth to help. Plus, employees that are known to give helpful, constructive feedback.
As the phases of implementation are completed, listen and react to the feedback given by these stakeholders. Alter the roll out as needed, and see what can be done to improve the functions or employees’ understanding of them.
Bonus tip: Having departmental leaders involved in the feedback process will make post-launch training easier. They will be liaisons between employees and the HR team.
3. Be sure to implement in phases
Implementing the HRIS in phases has a few benefits. Prioritizing requirements helps the HR managers, employees and other key stakeholders understand the system better as it is introduced piecemeal. That way, throughout each phase of the implementation, less information is needed to be communicated and retained.
By phasing out the implementation it can be ensured that each module has been designed, tested, and approved – instead of bouncing back and forth or moving on to another module without the go-ahead. Rework and reengineering is expensive, so “getting it right” the first time is crucial.
Celebrate ‘wins’ and phases completed along the way by sending out a company-wide newsletter. This builds confidence within the project team and keeps employees abreast of progress. Regular communication is so important for change management within the company, as well as keeping track of issues as they arise for employees.
Implementing in phases also reduces ‘scope creep’ where extra functionality is requested by stakeholders and holds up the timeline or adds to the budget.
4. Ensure data security throughout the entire process
When working with sensitive data – and HR departments house most, if not all, of the sensitive data at a company – you can’t be too careful. Work in conjunction with IT throughout the implementation process to safeguard employee data. The HRIS will most likely have profiles for employees with contact, salary, and job history information displayed. This data must not be compromised during the transition phase. During HRIS selection, ask critical questions about the security features of each potential system, too.
5. What are the risks?
As mentioned in key consideration #1, a couple of risks in the implementation process are going over budget and past the anticipated ‘go live’ date. In #4, we discussed the security risks that present themselves.
Other roadblocks to consider during implementation are: How much support is senior management giving? Is this project on a short leash? Could any upcoming projects within the company push this to the back burner? Which departments within the company may be more resistant to this change than others? Being aware of these risks will be key to the success of the project.
If you’re looking to upgrade your system soon, consider hiring an HR implementation consultant. Having a knowledgeable HRIS resource on board during the implementation process can save you time, money, and headaches. An HRIS partner will know the risks, and can troubleshoot when the inevitable issues arise during the complicated time this project rolls out.