6 steps to HRMS self-service implementation success


You’ve selected your new HRMS, and it has awesome self-service functionality that will further your strategic business aims and might just transform the way you work… so long as your people quickly get into the habit of using it –essential if you’re to fully benefit from HR self-service software. However, just to state the obvious; buying the right system is only part of the battle, the key to getting the most from your self-service is an installation and implementation process that sets you up for success. The six steps listed below are essential factors for a successful self-service implementation.

1. Engage, engage, engage

All technological implementation issues aside, your HRMS is used by people and it’s on the people that a successful system depends. Your people are faced with a change and if there’s one generalization we can make about the whole human race it’s that they don’t like change. Even change for the better involves a loss of the familiar. Much has been written on the psychological processes people go through when faced with change (especially change beyond their direct control) and, even more usefully, how to support them through the change of a new HRMS. However, perhaps the advice could be boiled down to: communicate and engage.

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Pre-implementation, before you even start scouting for systems and vendors, talk to the people who you hope will use the system as part of their daily working lives. Lay out what self-service options might be available and then invite their opinions on what would help them most in their jobs. Then, of course, listen to the answers and incorporate them into your buying and implementation strategies.

It’s imperative to see employees as a key user/stakeholder group in your HRMS implementation. Not doing so leaves employees at the mercy of the change rather than engaging them in making that change a success. Put simply, if they’re involved in the process, your people are more likely to commit to using the new system, and that commitment is critical.

Takeaway tip: hold an organization-wide meeting to kick off the process of consultation and engagement.

2. Aim for a high early adoption rate

Early adopters are those employees who embrace the new self-service options wholeheartedly – they are your best ambassadors to the rest of the workforce. They are enthusiastic about the new system and are likely to quickly become experts in its use. There is an opportunity for these ‘ambassadors’ to coach their colleagues on how to make the most of their new HRMS.

They also lead by example simply by using the system themselves. Their peers and colleagues see these early adopters getting a benefit from the new HR portal and become interested in what the system might do for them. Some reports suggest that a majority adoption rate can lead to 75-90% of HR transactions being handled via self-service. Encourage your early adopters and listen to them, they’re your eyes and ears ‘on the ground’ in the early stages of implementation.

Takeaway tip: involve employee representatives in the HRMS project team – they naturally become advocates for the system to their colleagues.

3. Great self-service is integrated

Integration can be interpreted in several ways: technological, procedural, and the system itself.

For the first, an HRMS that links and shares data with other business intelligence systems such as payroll, ERP, CRM and so on, offers more potential self-service options (and therefore a better user experience).

On the procedural side, your aim is to have self-service transaction become the normal, standard method of accessing HR information and services. Weaning users off the old methods of accessing HR might take some time, but selling the benefits and, more importantly, the early successes, will help users to view self-service as a fully integrated part of their working practices.

In relation to the HRMS system, purchasing a single, integrated system rather than a collection of best-of-breed applications carries some advantages:

  • It works out of the box. Nothing turns new users off a system quicker than when that system doesn’t function as promised.
  • User training is more straightforward. A single, integrated system is easier to learn, ensuring a better adoption rate.
  • An integrated system is easier to use. A single login, just one portal or dashboard to access all features. The more user-friendly it is, the more users will ‘self-serve’.

Takeaway tip: look for opportunities to expand the system’s scope where it offers new and useful self-service functions.

4. Make it mandatory

So far, these tips have focused on the ‘carrot’. However, there’s also an element of mandatory compliance when a new system is introduced to replace old procedures and processes.

One effective method of encouraging rapid adoption and successful implementation is to make the use of the HRMS self-service features compulsory.

Ensure users understand the system and its benefits, make it simple and intuitive to navigate, then take away the old HR access channels. Your early adopters are already convinced, this strategy encourages their opposite numbers, the so-called ‘stragglers’ who may be reluctant to shift to the new technology. Though bear in mind, that those who are reluctant may have excellent reasons for their position!

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Change the helpline phone numbers, the email addresses, set up a single point of contact service desk for non-self-service queries; do whatever works to push as well as pull your people towards using the new system.

Takeaway tip: combine this strategy with your ‘communicate and engage’ approach – that way, if you have stragglers they’re not only being ‘pushed’ to use the self-service options, you’re also giving them every chance to voice their views and have some input into the project.

5. Stock it with ‘good’ data

As the old saying goes: garbage in, garbage out. If the “out” is the experience your people have with the new self-service features, then the “in” is the data you put into the HRMS on which those services rely upon. If that stored information is out of date, incomplete or inaccurate then it doesn’t matter how smoothly the self-service functions, people won’t use it.

When you migrate your HR data from the old system (a prior HRMS, a set of spreadsheets, scratchings on a wax tablet) follow these steps so that the initial user experience is as good as it possibly can be:

  1. Plan the data-related activities carefully – the steps needed, the timings, who is responsible for each.
  2. Cleanse – review your current database. Check the accuracy of personal records by asking individuals to view and update their own data (this exercise is also part of your engagement strategy).
  3. Pre-migration testing - run through the standard functions and processes using either neutral dummy data or a sample selection of real records to check the integrity of the system and catch any bugs or glitches in the self-service processes.
  4. Migrate the data – a job for your IT team or with guidance from the system vendor and/or HRMS consultant.
  5. Post-migration testing – and test again with the complete database, preferably with a series of parallel running tests, comparing the functions against your legacy system or method.

Takeaway tip: clean your data. Nothing undermines a new system more (and its self-service functionality) than someone finding their personal record is full of errors and blanks.

6. Tell your people how to use it!

The key engagement/persuasion activity when implementing self-service is user training. This is most employee’s most intense exposure to the system before it goes live. Proper training and support is essential if you want your employees to make best use of payroll self-service and that training should cover:

  • Why the system is being introduced; especially the potential benefits of the system, to the business overall and also to each individual employee.
  • The user experience, i.e. what your employees will see on-screen. By the end of the training, they should feel comfortable navigating the system.
  • Practical details about HR services, including services that may no longer be available now they are being superseded by the HRMS self-service (see point #4 above).
  • Where to find ongoing support (e.g. your early adopter ambassadors on the ‘shop floor’).

Takeaway tip: don’t forget to evaluate your training programme afterward. Everybody may leave the training session smiling but you need to ensure that they can apply what they’ve just learned.

HR self-service brings clear benefits, including better and more rapid employee access to HR services, as well as reduced costs and increased efficiency for the business. However, realizing those benefits depends on the implementation process. Get it right and your workforce is ready for a brave new world of HR technology. Get it wrong and you’ll be struggling to keep your HRMS from ‘white elephant’ status. While the details of the implementation process will vary from business to business, project to project, the above six issues are the broad strokes that every HRMS self-service project must tackle.

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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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