How to pick the perfect project manager for your HRMS selection

HRMS systems do not choose themselves, and when it comes to finding the perfect system for your organization, opinions will likely differ. But different opinions and perspectives are also essential. You need a strong project manager to corral those varying agendas and standpoints towards a mutually satisfactory choice of HRMS; and more to the point, an HRMS that is well-suited to the needs of the organization as a whole and not just the needs of the person with the loudest voice!


Your project manager will be responsible for planning, resource management, project governance, risk management, choosing and leading the project team, delegating and monitoring tasks, and stakeholder management.

Depending on the size of your organization, the reality might be fairly low-key (talk to a few important people, agree what the system should do, do some internet research, and invite some people to judge the software demos with them) or incredibly complex and involved.

Whichever point on the complexity spectrum your HRMS project is, your project manager will be answerable to the boss (whether that’s the owner, the HR manager, or a C-suite of company directors).

Knowledge and skills

The basic aim is to select the right HRMS, on time, and at the right price. Firstly, an understanding of what services HR provides, and how, is essential – after all, this is what the project is going to improve. Similarly, an appreciation of the technology side of the project is important. But perhaps the key skill is the ability to communicate the same message to different audiences in different ways.

The selection process is the first step in introducing a new system that everybody (or almost everybody) in the organization will be expected to use. Every employee, at every level, is a stakeholder and effective communication with the full range of stakeholders is critical to success.

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On top of this, especially if the organization is large and the HR technology requirements complex, a working proficiency in the use of a project management methodology can be essential to managing the process; one such example for complex projects is the PRINCE2 methodology.

Likely candidates for the job

The obvious choice tends to be an HR manager. They have specialist expertise in HR, understand the service and where the improvements should (and need to) be made and they may have experience and expertise in project management techniques and methodologies (although this is more likely to be limited).

If you have an in-house IT function, the managers there are likely to be the exact opposite: far more experienced in technology projects, but less likely to appreciate the nuances of HR service delivery from the provider’s point of view.

Then there’s the external option, the HRMS consultant. Such people spend their lives helping organizations choose and implement HR technology solutions and their expertise in this narrow field should be hard to beat.

At the end of the day, you may well have to accept a compromise or a combination (maybe an HR and an IT manager who can work together). Either way, consider putting some project governance structures in place, such as a project committee, a user representative group, etc. They are often seen as a brake on project process and unnecessarily bureaucratic but they don’t have to be overly formal and can also function as a support for the project manager, sharing responsibility and jointly making better decisions.

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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

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