Creating a change management plan for HRMS implementation

A Capterra blog post from 2016 throws up this statistic: 97% of organizations believe project management is critical to business performance and organizational success. But also this one: Fewer than a third of all projects were successfully completed on time and on budget over the past year.

It’s no surprise that the key to success is good planning. And when it comes to HRMS implementation, the ‘technical’ part of the plan – hardware, software, installation, data cleansing, testing, parallel running with the legacy system, etc. – is actually the ‘easy’ part. The real change challenge is ensuring your people not only can use the new system but do.

The key elements of an HRMS implementation change management plan are:

  • Clear objectives 
  • The business case for change
  • Clarity on why the old way doing things cannot continue
  • A clear vision of the future (how life will be better with the new HRMS)
  • A program of specific activities that will achieve the objectives of the plan and are linked to the overall implementation objectives.
  • Involvement of stakeholders

Hopefully, you’ve already involved the various stakeholder groups when selecting the new HRMS, perhaps in drawing up the RFP (request for proposal) and the purchase decision. Now it’s time to really involve them.

People don’t like change

People have a natural resistance to change – all change is a loss of the familiar and even if that familiar state isn’t positive, it’s still a loss and people react accordingly: denial, resistance, exploration, acceptance.

This HRMS implementation guide will help you install new software successfully and increase user buy-in

Your change plan must be oriented to helping move your people through this emotional rollercoaster toward a scenario in which not only is the HRMS successfully implemented but is in everyday use, showing the benefits that led you to purchase it (and embark on this process of change) in the first place.

Five stages of success

The ADKAR framework from Prosci offers a highly practical structure for planning change activities. Those activities will vary from organization to organization, and depend on your starting point, but they’ll all fall under one of the following stages, which should be addressed in the following order:

  1. Awareness – people need to be aware of the reasons for the change, the bigger picture.
  2. Desire – people then need to feel motivated to want the change (either because it is so attractive or because the existing situation is unattractive, or both).
  3. Knowledge – this is the skills analysis part of the training strategy in implementation, people need the knowledge and skills to be able to use the new system.
  4. Ability – knowledge is one thing, be able to apply it is another; people need further support to put their new HRMS skills into practice.
  5. Reinforcement – if people are not rewarded for their movement towards the desired change, they are more likely to revert to old methods and patterns of behavior.

The test of a good HRMS implementation change management plan? Well, you communicate it as widely as possible, to all stakeholder groups, and they react positively, which, if you’ve taken the initial trouble to understand each group’s HRMS-related concerns and needs is likely to happen. Of course, the ultimate test is the process of implementation. If you follow the plan and the end result is a successfully implemented HRMS with no ‘people problems’ along the way, it was a great plan!

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Dave Foxall

About the author…

Dave has worked as HR Manager for the Ministry of Justice for a number of years, he now writes on a broad range of topics including jazz music, and, of course, the HRMS software market.

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Dave Foxall