When it comes to buying HR software, it may feel like your organization is teetering on the edge of an abyss.
Your investment is the leap, and implementation is the plunge into big data, political struggles, and lost expectations.
Lucky for you:
We have the parachute, and it’s called change management.
It takes courage for an organization to invest in HR software. If you’re on the team that’s buckling down for implementation, know this first:
According to KeyInterval, a research team founded by HR analysts William Tincup and John Sumser, the greatest determining factor for those that succeed is having the end goal to change how employees do their jobs.
We’ve called on a panel of experts to provide their own perspectives on KeyInterval’s findings.
Here, we pose three big questions on what it means to have a successful implementation.
Q1: Why is it important to have a transformational implementation plan?
According to KeyInterval’s findings, 82% of successful HR software implementations were transformational. Why?
Danyel Rupert, SPHR with Talent Pool and author of The Deep Diver, understands the importance of strategic change management. “If you look at implementation from the practitioner side, I think it really comes down to getting buy-in from end-users.
“When you consider end-user needs early in the conversation, even before buying a solution, you’ll find employees are less resistant to change and much more eager to be part of the transformation. Change is rapid once you start implementation, and users become exhausted. If they’re invested in the decisions, they’ll want to see it be successful.”
Bottom line: Transformation is necessary and the best way to support this change is by allowing end-users to engage with the buying decision.
David James, UK Lead with Looop LMS and previously Disney’s Director of Talent Management & Organizational Development, agrees: “Change management is an HR skill, and organizations should be rigorous with that.
“Sometimes with large corporations, leaders try to create a Frankenstein solution that makes everyone happy. This only leads to an unmanageable system.
“The best way to tackle this is to ask: How will the end-user really engage with this? Push for a solution that can streamline user needs, not break them apart.”
Bottom line: End-users will always have to compromise to make use of the best systems. If the system tries to make everyone happy a hundred different ways, no one will be able to use it.
“When OrangeHRM first started, we didn’t have an implementation team. Instead, we had a Technical Support team for instillation and basic training, but over time we found it wasn’t enough. Users still didn’t know how to get it running during rollout. That’s why we now have distinct services for guiding and impacting users. Changing their behavior is a must.”
Bottom line: Change management is built into our software implementation plan. Everyone needs to go above and beyond basic training to really adopt the software.
Q2: What makes a great implementation team?
One of the most important factors of a successful implementation strategy is selecting the right people to spearhead the project.
KeyInterval found 92% of survey respondents deemed chemistry either important or very important when selecting an implementation team.
Danyel believes the best approach is to include team members that bring a range of perspectives to the table. “Identifying people across departments and teams will help map out everyone’s needs.
“Don’t just have executives and HR leaders decide on what works best. A great way of looking at this is by asking: How does the solution benefit the people users are serving? Let your team represent perspectives across the board for serving customers across the board.”
Bottom line: In the end, you want everyone satisfied, from your end-users to your clients. Choose people who understand this best.
David described to us the type of team that makes an impact. “During key meetings you need people with the right power who can take quick action. I’ve even been in meetings where if a decision can’t be made, someone has to leave!
“I once had an implementation experience where my company brought in a change expert, but he ended up not having a ‘way’ about him. He didn’t have the skills to thrust himself to where he wasn’t invited. We needed a leader that wasn’t passive, who could take control in a politically charged environment.”
Bottom line: Implementation leaders need the confidence to enact change in ways that cross boundaries, or else they won’t make a significant impact.
Mafaz sees the client’s process of assembling an implementation team as mission critical. “The selection process is very important because you need people who can adapt to change.
“An implementation team can’t just settle for certain processes. Even once everything is documented and kicked-off, there’s no sitting back and relaxing. They need to be on their toes and running in all different environments.
“When something goes wrong, everyone needs to work together to figure it out because there’s no waiting around. We could all be in different time zones and risk pushing things back for days. Your team needs to know what they’re doing, and the leader needs to effectively communicate.”
Bottom line: There’s no easy way of picking people to get the job done just by following steps. They need to be collaborative and ready for challenges.
Q3: What is most likely to cause unexpected problems and derail implementation?
KeyInterval found that only one-third of successful implementation projects stay on track from start to finish.
The study also found, 28% of the time it can be narrowed down to a communication problem.
Danyel agrees: “Communication is the top priority. There needs to be a communication plan for all stages of sharing information and being accessible.
“Frequently asked question sheets are a good idea, but HR needs to be more deliberate when it comes to new practices and processes.
“When we talk about communication, it’s about who we’re communicating to. Following up with the end-user for touching base, getting feedback, and creating the opportunity to share thoughts establishes a process where HR can drill down and see what the real concerns are.”
Bottom line: A lack of communication affects all conversations surrounding implementation–from bottom to top.
David’s chief concerns lie with end-user adoption. “With Learning Management Systems in particular, people don’t typically go out of their way to use this type of business solution. It’s a training tool.
“A solution’s content and features could be great, but still not something a learner would engage with. On the vendor side, we’re always asking: What problem are we trying to solve for the end-user? When we understand their needs, we know how to deliver without a hitch.”
Bottom line: Unexpected problems often come down to a disconnect between developers and end-users.
Mafaz described to us his biggest pain point when it comes to handling HR software: data security. His projects often require cooperation from all levels of employees across departments.
“I’ve seen numerous incidents between HR and IT,” Mafaz told us. “In most cases, HR doesn’t like IT folks seeing the data because it contains sensitive information, but someone has to keep it updated. In these situations, that means IT needs full access.”
Information security is often overlooked. “Implementation teams need to consider the security of the data as well. You can’t let employee information spread.”
Bottom line: A new system could cause fundamental organization-wide change. The most serious issues often rise when the client doesn’t consider the solution’s impact beforehand.
From team chemistry to data security, software implementations take a great deal of attention. As technology permeates the workplace vendors and practitioners together are identifying the problems that matter and the solutions that work.
For more insight on setting up a successful implementation plan, check out these great resources: