What I wish I knew before my first HRMS implementation

Hindsight is wonderful, and it’s often 20/20 compared to the more myopic foresight. With the benefit of experience, it’s easy to look back and see conclusions that are painfully obvious but which were anything but at the time.

1. Just how insular most stakeholders are

This really shouldn’t be a surprise given what we know about the world around us, but it takes effort for people to look beyond their own nose. In HRMS project terms, this translates into stakeholders being obsessed with their own needs and concerns – from “Will I be able to check my pay online?” to “What percentage will I be able to shave off the staffing budget?” – to the exclusion of all else.

From an organizational point of  view, all stakeholder needs must be balanced and prioritized; usually with the strategic business priorities as a yardstick. But the employee worried about logging into an impersonal screen for information instead of chatting to “Carol in HR” is not concerned about the bigger picture. Or at least, not until they’ve been reassured about their own concerns first.

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From a pure business performance perspective, productivity and competitive edge are the lens through which everything is viewed - and if we all want to still have a job next year, rightly so. But from a more human perspective, every issue, big or small, is of equal importance. And that sometimes contradictory viewpoint is what drives your communication strategy.

2. How helpful a little branding can be to a HRMS implementation project

Brand your HRMS project. I’ve heard of it in other organizations and seen it done with the implementation of a non-HR system. A logo, a color scheme, an appropriate strapline or slogan, by creating a distinct and easily recognised identity for the project, a sense of familiarity can be quickly built up within the organization. Branded posters, communications, mugs, pens, ID card lanyards, or whatever seems appropriate; they can all be used to create a comfortable familiarity with the idea of a new HRMS; and by extension, new ways of accessing HR services.

3. How non-technical most HR people are

Just because we log in to desktop or laptop computer every morning at the office, or can surf the web with a smartphone, or can use email and Microsoft Word or Excel with ease, we think we know technology. Not true. Understanding the different advantages of on-premises and cloud deployment isn’t automatic. Nor is realizing how data can be integrated and analyzed to predict turnover patterns. Nor the potential engagement benefits of gamifying elements of recruitment and onboarding (“We’re not hiring them to play games!”) As the saying goes, we don’t know what we don’t know!

Awareness levels are changing and the increasing use of HRMS is a big part of that, but HR people still tend to be ‘users’ of technology rather than ‘understanders’ of it. However, just like project management in the past, and the current drive for data analysis skills, a wider understanding of the possibilities of technology is a competence increasingly in demand in HR circles.

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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