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Annie Hayes



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How to: Select & implement HRM systems



Selecting and implementing an HRM solution that delivers value and aligns to your company’s strategy and culture is hardly ever straightforward. How do you effectively compare one vendor’s offerings with another as different factions of your business have differing requirements, focuses and opinions? Is functionality the only area of focus that needs to be considered or should you take a more multi-thread approach? Where do you start?

As with all problems there is generally more than one option to consider:

  • Should we stick with what we have for the time being?

  • Should we modify our current legacy system to suit today’s business?

  • Should we consider a best of breed solution?

  • Should we consider a full HRMS solution?

  • Should we link this to the corporate ERM (Enterprise Resource Management)

Each of the above options carries different risks and ROI implications; these need to be carefully considered and discussed before committing to any action that may have
adverse consequences.

Deciding your needs
The key to a successful HRMS implementation project is to determine the needs of the organisation up front; nailing down the scope, identifying the critical processes will help justify the costs, estimate expected ROI (quantifiable and non-quantifiable) and help sell the idea of HRMS to the Board.

Before you start
There are several key questions that need to be asked before you start on an HRMS
selection project, typically these include:

  • What are the business drivers for our organisation? (Why are we doing this?)

  • Should we go for a full HRM solution, Best of Breed or enhancement to
    current systems?

  • What should the selection process be driven by?

  • What is the right methodological approach?

  • How much Executive Commitment is required and available?

Selecting your HRM System
Selecting HRM Systems can be daunting: How do we do it? Where do we start? The
success and completeness of this phase is a key indicator of many of the issues that will arise during implementation. The selection team who should make up the greater part of the leadership of the implementation team must be an empowered group of capable individuals from the organisation.

It is strongly recommended to have a structured selection process to put some science and measurement into what could be considered very much an opinionated process. Many vendors and partners will claim to be able to tell you which product is best for your business without the need for a selection process; this can be a dangerous route to take. A structured and auditable selection process will provide a solid foundation for the implementation of the chosen system and improve buy-in of the board, the project team and the shop floor.

For many years it has been a well known fact that implementations go wrong for several key reasons. However over 70% of these key reasons are associated with the need for effective executive commitment, timely decision making and general communication and change management throughout the organisation. In other words these are people and not technology issues.

What must not be lost sight of is the need to maintain tight timescales and the need for considered judgement to keep in check at times the nirvana visions of overzealous individuals that can lead to debilitating scope creep.

Another key area of note with most project failures is the level and depth of the cleansing of legacy data. The true scope and follow on implications of poor data cleansing often leads to serious consequences resulting in poor implementations.

Implementation Partners
The right implementation partners are an absolute necessity; choices include using the service arms of vendor solution partners themselves, a vendor implementation or strategic alliance partner, freelance consultants, recruiting the knowledge capital into your organisation or a combination of two or more of these. Cost may be a factor here in determining the final decision, but the end goals of manageability, effectiveness and delivery need to be firmly kept in mind.

The implementation and vendor partners should provide you with the experience you
expect. Managing the implementation partner is the responsibility of your project
manager and his direct report; if they are not experienced in this area then you may
consider using an independent agency to either support your project manager or
periodically audit the project.

Post Implementation Support
First line support is essential and needs to be in place supplemented by documentation for all users and training for key users early on in the go live phase.

You should expect your implementation partner to support the go-live for an agreed period, for example, depending on the complexity of the solution, two, four or six weeks.

Successfully Realising ROI
In order to approve budgets and release funds for such an initiative HR Managers are
demanding realistic ROI predictions to satisfy their business initiatives and motivations.

Examples include:

  • Reducing costs by streamlining HR processes

  • Introducing extensive Employee Self-Service capability (ESS)

  • Increasing skills and downsizing HR Departments

  • Driving responsibility and accountability for HR data to the correct level

  • Creation of a central HR Competency Centre

  • Outsourcing payroll operations

A common trait we find in many businesses is that they think they are unique and
standard processes will not work for them. In our experience this is only true in a very small number of cases, and even in these many HR processes are standard.

Often we find that HR professionals have seen presentations of methodologies and embark on a DIY project of fulfilment.

Rarely do we find an organisation that has both the knowledge capital and the resources to put its best people into such projects. The risks with this type of approach is that this noble and cost saving attempt often fails resulting in increased costs and poor results.

At times there is a need for assistance during this process from people who understand the intricacies of implementing HRMS systems and who can identify potential risks up front.

This piece was contributed by Paul Priddle, Principal SAKS Consulting

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Annie Hayes


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