Why do so many HR systems fail to meet expectations once they are implemented? People typically blame the systems supplier for failing to deliver on what was agreed upon, or the programme itself for failing to perform as expected. However, in the vast majority of situations, inadequate planning and poor implementation are to blame for initiatives failing to meet their objectives.
Our 10-step process for getting it right
1. Why is a new system required?
Consider what specific problems or challenges the initiative will address or resolve. Many projects fail because the project’s ‘drivers’ are not clear and completely understood by the business and people engaged. Consider whether you are looking for the latest ‘must-have’ HR product or whether there is a legitimate business requirement.
2. Carefully select your project team
Building a suitable team of people to be involved in the project is critical for gaining organisational buy-in as well as feedback and experience from a variety of viewpoints. Whenever feasible, try to involve key influencers. As the workload will always be larger than anticipated, consider assigning or hiring a dedicated worker to supervise the project.
Consider the project plan to be a dress rehearsal for the project; you will mentally go through each phase. Making errors at this stage is free; making them during implementation might be costly.
3. Establish the scope and objectives
Create a written statement outlining the scope of the systems project, what it will and will not do, and the specific goals to be met. This document will keep everyone focused on the same goals, minimise misunderstandings about what the project is supposed to accomplish, and will be essential if there is a disagreement later on during implementation.
4. Imagine the finished outcome
Spend some time considering the eventual product. How will it look and feel? What will the business community have to say about it? It will be lot easier to pick the suitable tools to bring you there after you have formed a mental image of what success looks like. It is beneficial to conduct this exercise in a group setting with key stakeholders to develop a shared vision of a successful conclusion.
5. Create a process map
It is well worth your effort to create a visual map of your existing procedures that will be affected by the new system. This will aid in your needs analysis and will be important in ensuring that your supplier completely understands your procedures. If you do not have internal process mapping knowledge, consider engaging an external specialist to help you with this process.
6. Budget and requirements
One common reason for system project failure is that the budget is simply insufficient to provide the necessary functionality. Avoid this blunder by conducting a thorough requirements analysis with the project team. Include any potentially complex procedures, interfaces, and reports that you may require because these are the most expensive components of any system project. Use your requirements analysis to obtain preliminary quotations from a few providers to assist you in developing a reasonable budget. Then, add at least a 25% contingency sum to the planned budget, as system initiatives always end up costing more than expected.
7. Determine your supplier and system
It goes without saying that you should consult with several suppliers before selecting on a system. It can be beneficial to create a simple scoring criteria to assist you in evaluating vendors against your varied requirements. Consider the knowledge and experience of the supplier’s team, the company’s financial health, and the quality of their support, data protection, and hosting arrangements in addition to the technical qualities of the software. When it comes to checking references, it is worthwhile to make the effort to visit the referee organisations and chat with some of the system’s actual users (rather than simply the contact name provided by the supplier!). Obviously, cost will be a significant consideration; make certain that you completely grasp all of the costs involved, both upfront and continuing, including ‘extras’ such as system customization, maintenance, training, and hosting.
8. Make a project plan
Start implementing the project without first planning out all of the duties required in the project, including who will do what and when. Consider this approach to be a project dress rehearsal; you will mentally walk through each step of the project, emphasising and resolving any issues that may occur. Making errors at this stage is free; making them during implementation might be costly.
So, we’ve finally arrived at the implementation stage! Here are some easy pointers to keep in mind throughout implementation:
- Consider a phased approach, especially if your system will include online self-service or numerous modules.
- Plan for, celebrate, and share some ‘wins’ along the way. This boosts the project team’s confidence and instils faith in the new system within the company.
- Communicate progress on a frequent basis, both within the project team and to key stakeholders within the business. Track and address issues and risks as they occur. A nice-looking issues and hazards log is useless if nothing is done to address them!
- Reduce’scope creep,’ or the addition of extra requested functionality to the requirements list during implementation. This can jeopardise project timelines and deplete your budget.
10. Ensure that your goals are met
Many projects end while the fundamental system is up and functioning but before the project objectives are met. Return to steps 1 and 3 and consider your initial reasons for building the system as well as the precise goals that were to be fulfilled. Have they all been met? If not, keep the momentum rolling; there is still work to be done…