Posts Tagged success factors
Implementing HR and Payroll systems is a precarious business. Whether you are looking at e-recruitment, training systems, core HR and Payroll, document management, workflow, P11D, talent management or self service solutions, the business environment in which your implementation will take place is complex, evolving, effected by organisational ethos and constantly striving for synergy between the employees’ needs and those of the employing organisation. Throw into this heady mix the divergent temperaments of technologically astute system developers and payroll- or people-focussed system users and the implementation of new software can be quite a challenge…
This is a challenge, however, which offers considerable rewards.
Successful ERP, HR and Payroll implementations can offer:
– improved organisational morale;
– increased employee engagement with the processes and objectives of their employer;
– a shift in the focus of talented staff from admin to strategy;
– consolidated management information;
– devolved and more timely input of data;
– improved business processes;
– more effective workflow
But what is the trick to realising these benefits? What are the ingredients needed to get your system implementation right?
A contract that works
A decisive starting point for your implementation is a well formulated contract with the supplier. Useful features of such contracts include:
– SMART delivery targets
– A detailed and binding confirmation by your supplier of the extent to which they can meet each and every requirement in your ITT
– A supplier-incentivising payment profile
– Penalties for non-performance
– Defined implementation consultancy and support
– An agreed change control procedure; and
– Clear lines of escalation…
If your contract is cursory, vague or simply inadequate, as software and services contracts often are, then you must make sure your project begins with the development of a detailed project charter or Project Initiation Document which both you and your supplier sign up to before work begins. Then, whether you have in your possession a good contract or a good Project Initiation Document, you should keep this in your back pocket at all times – and be ready to call on it at a moment’s notice.
It is essential to ‘work your contract’, making sure your agreed objectives are met and the promised deliverables delivered. This means keeping a tight rein on change control, documenting even honeymoon lapses in supplier performance, and ensuring your supplier is always aware that you expect them to meet both the letter and the spirit of your initial agreement.
Manage your supplier
As the saying goes, keep your friends close but your supplier closer. Throughout any software or service implementation it is important to insist on high level supplier representation at Performance Reviews, Steering Group and Project Board meetings. Your supplier’s representatives will far rather get it right, or fix it quick, than explain, face to face, why they got it wrong!
It is important that you own your project’s deliverables; and it is equally important, if your contract permits this, that you maintain some degree of payment leverage. For most suppliers the bottom line is the bottom line. If at all possible, you need to be able to maintain financial leverage up to the last possible moment, otherwise you will find, once the bulk of your payment has arrived in your supplier’s bank account, that their interest in your project rapidly diminishes.
Rigorous project management
Of equal importance to supplier management is the management of your own organisation. No matter how tempting it may be, organisations must avoid improving upon their original objectives. Stick to the initial scope of the project and you are far more likely to end up with demonstrable success.
Your project manager must manage your internal stakeholders, keep them informed, and ensure that all those departments or teams effected by your project also recognise their responsibilities towards it. Similarly, your project sponsor must ensure executive level participation, and publicise the executive level commitment to the project.
Communication at all levels is a key ingredient of successful projects.
A strong project team
Your project team will be central to your implementation… and should include:
– Senior members of the effected departments empowered to make system set-up or business process decisions without recourse to committee
– Hands-on team members to undertake the non-strategic work; and
– Supplier-provided consultancy with in-depth knowledge of the system and its implementation.
At various points in the implementation you may also wish to include in the team:
– Business process analysis and re-engineering expertise
– An expert on documenting the use of the system
– Dedicated resource for project communications; and
– Super-users who participate in pilot and parallel running.
Further recommendations in regard to the project team are:
– That core membership of the project team should be dedicated to the project full time
– That nominated individuals continue to work with the system after project completion, thus benefitting the organisation with the expertise gained during the project; and
– That a discrete project area is provided for the duration of the project.
A project board or committee should also be convened, inclusive of executive-level representation, senior management from the areas affected (including IT), and a nominated project sponsor.
Other key factors of successful projects
Further recommendations towards ensuring project success:
– Purchase sufficient expert consultancy for your project, but emphasise skills transfer from consultants to employed staff during the implementation period;
– Purchase sufficient system training, and also plan for in-house, cascade training where required;
– Work to a plan and change control any deviation from it;
– Develop test scripts and test rigorously;
– Phase your implementation, allowing time to get each phase right;
– Include pilot or parallel running in any project;
– Educate stakeholders to expect a productivity dip after system implementation, as the new processes bed-in and familiarity with the system is acquired;
– Engage with other organisations who use the new system; and
– Encourage the project team and stakeholders to enjoy and take pride in the project… It’s not every day that you get new toys or the chance to learn new things!
A Challenge Successfully Met
I hope these suggestions and tips offer some little guidance toward ensuring that your system implementation is a successful one. If you have other recommendations for increasing the success of ERP, HR or Payroll projects please get in touch via my blog.
In summary, within complex and forward-looking business environments the roll-out of new software or services is a major challenge… but it is a challenge which your organisation can, with a little planning and foresight, successfully and rewardingly meet.
Luke Andreski PMI PMP
A version of this article appeared in the respected Digby Morgan Newsletter, Human Resourcefulness
© 2013 Luke Andreski. All rights reserved.
Before an HR or Payroll system implementation can begin, a number of important activities must already be underway or drawing to a close. This post briefly looks at the following:
- The decommissioning of the existing system
- The procurement of a new system
- The opportunity for a business process review
- Other important ‘up front’ success factors.
Decommissioning The Current System
The decommissioning of the current HR and Payroll system can be considered a project in itself. This project should include:
- A review of the current system’s strengths and weaknesses
- An analysis of how the system’s weaknesses may be addressed by a new system
- Consultation with champions of the current system, if there are any, to ensure buy-in for system change (i.e. the initial stages of change management)
- A cost/benefit justification for moving from the current system; and
- Decisions on which current system data should be deleted, which should be archived and which data should be cleansed for loading onto the new system. It is best practice within system transitions for the new system be populated only with data that has been checked for accuracy, coherence and integrity. It is also crucial for the implementation of the new system that close attention is given to – and time allowed for – the data mapping process.
The analytical outputs from the decommissioning exercise will feed into the procurement process for the new system and into the initiation and planning stages of the implementation project.
The decommissioning of the current system may be dealt with as a subproject of the implementation project, but it should nevertheless be undertaken rigorously, with the activities described above commenced well in advance of acquiring the new system.
The procurement project will have outputs of central importance to the implementation project. These outputs should include:
- The initial business case for the system transition, which may feed from the decommissioning exercise
- A Schedule Of Work or detailed definition of the requirements which the new system and its supplier must meet
- A contract which includes:
- Delivery targets
- Implementation timescales
- The supplier’s detailed confirmation of the extent to which they can meet each individual requirement in the SOW
- A supplier-incentivising payment profile
- Penalties for supplier non-performance
- Insurance against subcontractor non-performance
- Defined implementation consultancy and support
- Defined system and DBA training
- A detailed Support SLA including escalation points
- System performance guarantees
- An agreed change control procedure
- A supplier/client conflict resolution strategy
- The purchased software, hardware, database environments, comms, services and implementation support.
It is essential, in addition to the organisation’s procurement team and representatives from IT, that both senior and junior HR and Payroll users are engaged in the selection process. Representation should also be sought from other important stakeholders, such as Finance, Audit and the employees themselves.
Business Process Review
An opportunity which should not be missed when taking on a new HR and Payroll system is that of reviewing the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of the business processes being supported by the system. The business process review should cover:
- Document and data flows
- Authorisation processes
- The practices, codes and calculations used in areas such as absence recording
- System-related HR processes and procedures in general
- Departmental boundaries and responsibilities – and whether these should be modified in light of the capabilities of the new system
- The data required by the organisation and who should have access to that data
- The standardisation of data formats and codifications throughout the organisation; and
- Whether all the reports currently generated are needed and what new reports might be required.
Other Important Success Factors
Other precursors to a successful HR and Payroll system implementation include:
- Commitment to system change by management at an executive level
- A recognition of the size and complexity of the forthcoming project. HR and Payroll implementations can range in duration from four months for a small company with straightforward pay and employment conditions to nine months for companies with employee numbers in the low thousands… through to twenty-four months for very large organisations taking a phased implementation approach
- Detailed, up front project evaluation and planning
- A financial commitment recognising the many factors of a system change of this sort, inclusive of:
Hardware, software and comms
Time taken from HR, Payroll and Finance staff for initial consultations through to testing and parallel running; and
Temporary productivity reduction whilst familiarity is gained with the new processes and system.
For an extended discussion of the key features of successful HR and Payroll implementations, please see the document ‘Best Practice for HR and Payroll System Implementations’ on this blog.
Implementing a new HR and Payroll system does not begin when system access is first provided to the project team – or even with the signing of the contract for the new system. A rigorous procurement exercise must first take place, and this should be supported by analysis of the reasons for change, the production of a compelling business case, the production of a comprehensive requirements document and some anticipatory change management.
Undertake these activities and your implementation should get off to a running start.
© Luke Andreski 2012. All rights reserved
Comments and feedback welcome!