How to measure HRMS implementation success
At the end of your HRMS implementation, as with any other project carried out in the workplace, the key question is, how did we do? Was the project a success? If an element didn’t go according to plan, why not? Whether it all worked perfectly or not, with the benefit of hindsight, what could have been done better, and how?
To be clear, this article focuses on carrying out a post-implementation HRMS project review. This is a separate exercise to a full-blown measuring ROI (return on investment) of the HRMS system itself. The focus here is on HRMS implementation success (or a lack thereof).
Why go to the trouble?
Because relying on anecdotal feedback, a gut feeling, or surface appearances rarely gives an accurate indication of success. A structured, objective review on the other hand – even if it does add time and resources to the overall project costs – will not only give a true picture of the implementation process but also feed into your future HRMS usage and development strategy. With the structure in mind, we can break down the review into four key areas:
- The future
The best HRMS in the world will be an expensive white elephant if your people don’t use it. During the implementation process (and hopefully before that, when selecting the system!) you engaged with various stakeholders and user groups; from frontline employees to C-suite directors, and specialist roles such as finance and IT (and HR!) What are the opinions of these various stakeholder groups on the success of the HRMS implementation? Remember that for this exercise, you’re not asking about the system’s functionality or usefulness – the focus here is on the process of implementation, setup, go-live and roll-out.
- Do they feel they were sufficiently involved?
- Did they feel listened to?
- Have the benefits and efficiencies they were promised transpired yet?
- If compromises were made (no single stakeholder group gets it all their own way) do they understand and accept them?
Also consider the impact on indirect stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, and even government (e.g. in relation to employment legislation compliance)?
Similar to taking time to review the planning of the go-live and launch, ask questions about how well the implementation process as a whole was managed and directed. In other words, how was your project management?
- Are there any learning points for future projects?
- Did any unforeseen pitfalls or delays occur? How were they mitigated? Could they have been addressed more effectively?
- And of course, what went well? How could you repeat these success factors in future projects?
Key people to talk to here will be the implementation project team and the people around them who were impacted by the project.
Now go straight to the bottom line and ask about costs and benefits. What were the final overall costs of the implementation? This includes the up-front system costs, any hardware or supporting software costs, the time taken by internal personnel in all roles (i.e. not just the project team but all staff time spent on implementation activity), external consultancy costs, any materials needed to support a successful implementation (e.g. training).
Having established a figure, ask how those costs compare with the benefits being achieved so far. This is not to get into a detailed costs-benefit analysis at this stage. After all, the benefits are still emerging and some will be decidedly long-term. In other words, don’t expect to see more benefits than costs immediately post-implementation. The balance of these two factors will shift over time (hopefully in the favour of the benefits) but as a useful indicator – and as a foundation for a full ROI exercise in the future – it’s never too early to start gathering the facts and figures.
Finally, looking ahead to the longer life of the HRMS you’ve just (successfully) implemented, what issues can be fed into the future HR technology strategy? For example, users may have asked for additional functions which could be provided by add-on software modules or upgrades. It may not have been appropriate to include them in the initial implementation (too much can be too risky in project terms and it’s often wiser to stick to the essentials at first) but in the future, who knows?
Identifying specific metrics and then carrying out an initial benchmarking exercise against them will mostly feed into your future evaluation and improvement strategy. Some metrics (such as on time delivery of the system) are one-off measures but most are a case of preparing for future measurements. Like the abovementioned costs issue, metrics will not (at this stage) prove success or otherwise. But they will give you a foundational basis for later comparisons that go beyond opinion and anecdotal experience. Examples of quantitative measures for HRMS implementation success could be:
- Was the HRMS implementation delivered on time? Were the project milestones met?
- Training evaluation – User training is a common feature of HRMS implementation. Post-training, what did people learn, and how easily were they able to put it into practice in their roles?
- Usage rates – Are the system’s various functions being used at or above the anticipated levels?
- Direct HR interactions – Focus on employee self-service tasks that were previously actioned by going to the HR team direct. How much HR resource and time are you saving that can be redirected to less routine, more strategic tasks.
- HR process improvement – A new HRMS is an opportunity to review and streamline HR processes. Are the improved processes working the way you intended?
- System fixes – When bugs or glitches were identified immediately after implementation, how quickly were they fixed?
An HRMS post-implementation review gives both an assessment of the implementation process, and the first in-depth snapshot of how the HRMS is delivering on its anticipated business and strategic benefits (as identified in the initial business case). As such, measuring HRMS success is a valuable exercise, not only to show you’ve made a wise investment but also to maintain the support and engagement of key stakeholders and decision-makers.
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