A step-by-step guide to managing an HRMS implementation
“There’s no such thing as too much planning.” Who knows if that’s literally true but it’s a good principle to work from because it slows you down and makes you think about what you’re doing. And if you’re a project manager with little or no experience of HR and HR technology, then when you’re tasked with implementing the organization’s new HRMS, slowing down to plan is a wise move.
The HRMS implementation process can be divided into any number of stages but for the sake of simplicity (and this article) let’s say there are nine and take a brief look at where your focus should be in each one:
1. Planning your HRMS implementation
Involving key stakeholders is a must when it comes to planning, and especially if you’re managing the project without in-depth HR knowledge. So, who to talk to? The C-suite have the overall responsibility and will be looking for a clear return on the investment as well as looking for strategic HR functionality, such as reports and predictive analytics. The HR team are absolutely critical to help you understand what a successfully implemented system should be able to do. And the users (managers and employees) are your biggest stakeholder group, their interests and concerns may differ depending on role, responsibility and specialism.
Reach out to these groups, invite their input, and listen to their issues and worries as these are the factors that will impact on commitment, and therefore on the project’s likely success. You should also consider the different stakeholder interests when putting together a project team.
2. Change management
People respond to change in broadly predictable ways, usually a variation on denial, resistance, exploration, and finally, acceptance. By understanding stakeholder concerns you can identify the denial and resistance ‘triggers’ that you have to address and formulate a communications and involvement strategy. Basically, what do they need to know, and when, in order to encourage them into the exploration and acceptance stages?
3. Hiring a consultant
Involving an HRMS consultant can be a wise move in any implementation project but if you as project manager aren’t coming from an HR background, it can approach being essential as their expertise could be invaluable. When choosing a consultant, the key points are checking into their know-how and experience, balancing that against the cost, and definitely following up their references.
4. Data migration
This is where it gets technical and unless you have a specific IT skillset, you need to delegate well, step back, and monitor results. Focus on ensuring the data is as accurate as possible, either asking users to personally check their own information as part of your stakeholder engagement efforts, or use it as a test exercise for the system’s employee self-service functionality, asking users to check and update their own personnel record.
5. System testing
Also technical, and also an opportunity to involve stakeholder representatives in the testing of the systems processes and functionality.
6. User training
If you don’t have training expertise, this is a good stage to delegate to a learning specialist. You need someone who can conduct a training needs analysis, comparing what each category of user needs to be able to do with the HRMS against their current knowledge and skills. That exercise then informs the training design and delivery for which, once again, you’ll need to enlist specialist skills.
A smooth HRMS go-live is a sign of a well-run implementation project and you’ll need to consider what support to have in place for ‘D-Day’. Remember that first impressions last and that this is the first impression users will have of the HRMS as a useful tool. (Or otherwise!) Plan to have a variety of support available, including process guides, automatic notifications and reminders to prompt key tasks, super-users (i.e. experts who can help their colleagues), and of course, IT technical support.
8. Post go-live challenges
If you think it’s all over after go-live then I’m sorry to disappoint you! Check in with your technical people and stakeholder contacts to get a true picture of how things are working, and what practical concerns or bugs are cropping up. Are there any fresh training gaps becoming obvious?
9. Measuring project success
Time to review and reflect. How did you do? Once the HRMS is up and running and any initial bumps in the road have been flattened out, you need to conduct a review against the anticipated (an hopefully measurable!) benefits identified in the original business case. You’re looking to establish whether the organization is now receiving a good return on its investment.
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