The role of HR managers when selecting HRMS

Whoever takes the lead on HR in your organization – whether you have an HR director backed by a team of certified specialists or a harassed manager with “HR” bolted on to their responsibilities – should have a role in the selection of a new HRMS. So far, so obvious. But what exactly is that role and, more to the point, what should it be?

HRMS selection project manager

A natural decision might be to put the HR manager in charge of the whole selection process and make them the overall project manager. In that role, they’ll likely be managing a team of others, including people from other parts of the business who are probably balancing their HRMS project duties with their ‘day job’.

As the project manager, they would be answerable to the C-suite or other senior manager and be responsible for the overall planning, resource management, project governance, risk management, monitoring delegated tasks, and stakeholder management. 

Functional lead

Maybe you appoint a separate project manager, but your HR manager will still be heavily involved in the selection of your new HRMS as the lead representative of the HR function. Of all the specialist stakeholder groups, HR will have the most detailed input of the specifications of the HRMS; after all, it’s their jobs the software is automating (and hopefully making better!)

HR input might include information on various people processes, metrics currently in use, and links to more strategic initiatives, such as succession planning.

Ongoing management

Almost certainly, once the HRMS has been installed, the responsibility for effective use and maintenance of the system will ultimately lie with the HR manager. It’s also inevitable that they will be heavily involved in the implementation stage of the HRMS project. Indeed, while it’s possible that membership of your selection and implementation teams varies, the HR manager usually represents a common thread between the two, offering – whether the formal project manager or not – a consistent oversight of the project and its goals.

Key project tasks for an HR manager during HRMS selection

On a slightly more specific level, while each organization’s selection project will differ, common responsibilities for HR managers tend to include the following:

  • Strategic input, including how use of the HRMS should further the goals of both the HR team and the business as a whole.
  • Leading communication with key stakeholder groups regarding project focus and progress.
  • Input into focus groups and user engagement meetings.
  • Managing the administrative side of the project, which is likely to fall to the HR team.
  • Managing or contributing to the shortlisting of vendors to provide a system demo.
  • Coordinating HR specialist input to gathering the requirements for the new system.
  • Design of ‘killer scenarios’ for use in demos of your shortlisted software.
  • Selection of HRMS consultants (if needed for either selection or the following implementation).

What role should your HR manager play in HRMS selection?

It’s a decision that may be affected by outside factors but the simple ideal is that the HR manager should take the lead on the HRMS selection project. Assuming they have the necessary leadership and project management skills, of course. Their role as ‘Head of HR’ is integral to the project’s success, possibly more so than any other role. It’s a balance but remember, other project managers, even if more skilled in the role, are unlikely to have the HR manager’s breadth of expert knowledge on the very processes being automated. A formal project manager or not, the HR manager’s input and guidance to HRMS selection is almost certainly essential.

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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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