HRMS Implementation: Change Management

There are a lot of statistics floating around of various validities, but the general scare seems to be that HRMS implementations often fail to live up to their expectations. Regardless of the exact failure rate, the important question is why? And the answer tends to lie in the aspect of implementation most often neglected in favor of technical specifications, HRMS deployment options, testing and data transfer and so on: people. The impact of change on the people working in an organization cannot be underestimated, especially in terms of how that impact can affect the success of the change in question. To guarantee an effective HRMS implementation process, that process must take into account how people respond to change. Two models can help that understanding.

Recommended reading: HRMS Implementation: 9 Steps to Success

The Change Curve

A number of business applications have been made of the research of Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who found that people faced with significant change pass through a number of distinct emotional phases. Having a structured model such as the Lewis-Parker curve in the diagram below, means that communication and engagement strategies can be formulated based on a predictable response path.

Shock – the employee realizes that something is changing; a brief period of disorientation and a lack of logical reasoning is normal.

Minimising Impact – certain user groups may seek to ignore the new HRMS by labelling it an HR issue, nothing to do with them.

Frustration – the change is accepted but the person still doesn’t like it; feeling hard done to and uninvolved.

Letting Go – At this point, the person beginning to look forwards and wonder about the change.

Testing the Limits – the training is under way and the person has the opportunity to learn about the system and apply their new knowledge.

Search for Meaning – with use comes a wider understanding of what the system is offering in terms of benefits.

Integration – the new HRMS isn’t “new” anymore; it is accepted as the norm.


Knowing the process through which people pass when faced with change is useful, but for successful implementation, you need to know how to move people around the curve as quickly and painlessly as possible. This is where a practical model such as Prosci’s ADKAR methodology comes in. ADKAR suggests five key stages of change management each with its own strategy.

Awareness – people need to be aware of the reasons for the change, the bigger picture.

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).

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.

Ability – knowledge is one thing, be able to apply it is another; people need further support to put their new HRMS skills into practice.

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.

People’s attitude towards the HRMS will greatly influence the success (or otherwise) of the implementation process. An effective change management strategy that takes account of these two models will be a critical success factor in getting your HRMS not only up and running but embedded in the organization’s ways of working.

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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