If you dread changing your HR software, you are not irrational. Implementing a new system in human resources often runs the risk of budget deficits and delays, as shown in this Bersin by Deloitte's research. A software vendor could promise you the moon (e.g., saving time, reducing cost and increasing productivity), yet many new technologies failed to meet business requirements.
It’s true that changing HR software has its challenges. However, you can’t afford to miss that rocket to the moon as digitalising HR is a disruptive human capital trend in 2017. An analysis from Deloitte indicates that 37% and 36% of companies worldwide consider digital HR "important" and "very important" respectively. When more and more companies upgrade their systems to process information faster, store more data and work more efficiently, you don't want to compete with them using old technology.
If you still have concerns about implementing new HR software, this guide is what you need. Follow these five important steps to turbocharge the process.
Step 1: Set Clear Goals For Digitising HR
Digital HR has many benefits: saving time, increasing data storage capacity and boosting engagement. Stacey Harris, one of Bersin by Deloitte alma maters, reported that companies with newly upgraded digital HRMS platforms were spending 22% less per employee in 2016. However, HRM systems often come with a high price tag, so make sure you set clear goals before asking for any investment from the C-suite.
The big picture
Firstly, clarify your company’s needs and goals because you want to select a system that will support the business into the future. Ask yourself what kind of improvement digital HR would bring and whether it fits the long-term business plan.
Katherine Jones, Bersin by Deloitte’s vice president of HCM Technology Research with Deloitte Consulting LLP, advises HR leaders to "plan ahead", to think about their immediate and future goals and direction long before choosing new software.
In my experience, involving employees in the decision-making process encourages them to own the process and actively make changes required by that decision.
Before setting any solid goals, use EngageRocket to send out a survey. You can investigate employees' pain points when it comes to human resources tasks, with some questions along this line:
- What are the tasks that take up the most of your time?
- If you want to work better, what do you need?
- In your opinion, what has been done inefficiently?
Their feedback indicates the most urgent matters you need to improve, which helps to prioritise the digitalisation of HR.
Other sets of questions could deal with change management. Because new HR software could bring any positive impact, it causes immediate changes that might interrupt the established work routines. Thus, many of your employees might not like and welcome it.
By sending out a pulse survey, you can find out what kind of difficulty your staff might have in learning to use new software. Use the received information to set criteria for the new digital tool.
Step 2: Partner Up With IT Early On & Throughout
Once you set the goals that reflect the long-term business strategy and the employees' wishes, it’s time to translate them into the right HR software.
Within a close partnership, IT and HR can decide the following:
IT department’s technical knowledge and experience with software vendors would be a big help for HR department to navigate buzzwords and tech jargons advertised on vendor websites. Together, the two units can select potential products whose functionalities solve existing problems and promise to improve performance.
A business operation of 1,000 employees requires software capacity different to what needed by a team of 10.
You need to know how much attention and support you can get from a supplier.
An early-stage startup might offer an innovative solution, but its support team is likely to be too small to meet the need of, for example, 500 users in your company. IT would be able to advise HR the appropriate user vs. support staff ratio.
On the other hand, established vendors like Oracle, SAP, or Workday might not provide you with personalised support if you are, for instance, a small team of 50.
Technical issues of implementation
Technical aspects of implementation include installing, integration, testing and on-going training. Even though some vendors provide these services in addition to the software license, you should make sure your IT team are trained and present in each step of the way.
Step 3: Create a Workable Plan For Implementing HR Software
With the help of IT department, you've found the suitable software for your needs. That's great!
You should not immediately purchase the license and install it on all company computers, though. You need to create a workable plan first.
[ctt template="2" link="QDv95" via="no" ]It's crucial to create a workable plan before implementing any HR software.[/ctt]
A viable plan outlines all the next steps, from training staff to the logistics of installation. It should also detail possible circumstances involving other departments. Specifically, good planning covers:
Budget is arguably the most important factor to consider while communicating the digital HR goals to the C-suite. Think about what a new HRM system would cost the company as a whole, not just the HR department.
Be prepared to provide the breakdowns, too. The plan should give answers to these questions:
- What is the budget?
- How is it divided between the license cost, training cost and other management cost?
- What is the estimated cost of lost productivity while implementing and learning new HR software?
The key to the success of any digital HR project is, ironically, human capital. Before a piece of software can take over, the people need to set the stage. Specifically, you need to provide the answers to these questions in the plan:
- Who would be involved in the project?
- Do you have a project leader?
- Is your project manager able to build consensus and communicative about deadlines?
- How many IT employees available for tech support during implementation and training?
- What is the right balance to ensure that implementing the new HR software is not too disruptive to the daily tasks of IT?
- Who will be the one who resolves conflicts when they arise?
- How many HR employees should be involved in the project?
You don’t want to rush any structural change, but if a project goes on for too long, its supporters are likely to lose their interest or patience. As the changes might affect the whole company, it is critical to communicate the deadlines clearly and commit to it as others will have planned their work around your timeline. The following questions would help you to set more accurate time frames:
- How long would it take to install and test the software on one computer?
- Can you do many computers at once or is it better to do in batches?
- How long would it take to train an employee?
- What is the plan for ongoing training?
- How will you work around the employees’ daily schedule, so they can install, test and learn about the software?
- What is the learning curve?
- When can you expect productivity to be back to normal and start to rise?
- When is the appropriate time to review and assess the success of the project?
Key Performance Indicators
Without these indicators, all other things don’t mean much.
[ctt template="2" link="QDv95" via="no" ]You need to offer solid proof that the expensive newly installed HR software is worth the money and the time.[/ctt]
The scheme you are proposing should answer these questions:
- Which are the indicators for the success of the project?
- How to measure each indicator, from the amount of data processed to an increase in the level of employee happiness?
- How to collect feedback? What kind of platform would be available if stakeholders wish to give their feedback and raise their concerns directly?
Step 4: Provide Adequate Ongoing Training
Training is key to the success of any HR software implementation. You need to make sure that proper and continual coaching and support is available to everyone.
During different phases of the project, from my experience, the following kinds of training are proven to be useful:
Before installation, provide your staff with general training about the purpose of the new HR software and the etiquette of using it. This training could be a short seminar to the whole team with printed handouts. If your company have few offices, an online video from the HR manager and IT manager accompanied by a document about the rules would be sufficient. Make sure trainees have the option to ask their questions and provide feedback.
You can use onboarding videos while providing one-on-one coaching on how to use the software’s various functionalities.
Many software development companies are great at engaging users from the beginning with a visual and intuitive onboarding guide, but you shouldn't depend on that alone to help your employees to learn the new system.
People who are not familiar with digital solutions are likely to prefer being guided step-by-step by a person. There are cases when users skip through onboarding impatiently and fail to remember all functionalities for when they need to use them. Thus, it's advisable to have online support or documentation so one can look things up whenever convenient.
You also should have a contact point from the vendor for technical assistance, during the first week or month of the installation as well as in a longer period in case new questions arise.
Further training for advanced features might be needed after users master the basics. There should be regular feedback sessions for users to share their challenges and for HR and IT departments to provide them with further training and support. They could be on a weekly basis during the first month, then monthly or quarterly depending on the adoption rate.
Step 5: Backup, Test and Implement Your New HR Software
How important is backing up?
You need to prepare for the worst case scenarios.
What would happen if the software doesn’t work properly? What is your plan when the data is corrupt during installation?
There are a quite a few unfortunate possibilities, so always back up first. It's important to make a plan for backing up as it could take a long time.
If you are changing from a paper system to a digital system, keep the paper for a while until the new digital system is up and stable and that you have the newly-input old data backed up somewhere secured. Do the same thing if you are moving from on-premise digital storage to cloud-based system.
How important is testing?
It is advisable not to install the new software on every single computer on the same day. Test with a few random computers in different departments and assess the stability of the software, the user-friendliness, and any challenges arising from the testing period.
If the first few tests run successfully, you should celebrate and communicate the wins to the whole team, before scaling up the implementation. Through communicating the success and celebrating the good effort, you build confidence amongst the project team and instil a sense of belief in the new system within the business.
Key communication points during implementation
Once you see the first success in testing, you can start scaling. Here are things you need to keep in check while doing so:
- Regular communication regarding progress, both within the project team and to key stakeholders
- A track record of issues and risks as they arise, how you deal with them and how promptly they get resolved
- A no-no to any unplanned functionality during implementation. If it's considered necessary, note it down and plan for it carefully in another phase
Once the new system has been up and running for a decent amount of time, as planned, get back to the goals. Have you achieved them? It's likely that you have if you are following these five steps.
Here is to recap the five steps of turbocharging your HR implementation:
- Clear goals which are tied to the long term plan and the reality in your company
- A strong partnership between Human Resources and Information Technology departments
- A workable plan containing KPIs
- Ongoing training
- Backup, test and scale
What is your experience with HR software implementation? Which step do you find the most significant? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section.