Tuesday, January 21, 2014

3 Things you should Never Shortchange when Embarking on an HR Technology Rollout

1. The “what's in it for me” perspective of each class of user; e.g., employees, applicants, HR specialists and business partners, line managers, executives, relevant external partners, etc.

Keep in mind that HR Systems have been getting procured and implemented for decades, and often times, neither the organization nor the products being implemented were totally ready. Organizational readiness can relate to other strategic initiatives going on that are perceived as more important; or perhaps there was a need to (first) change the HR processes being automated as they were deeply flawed. Moreover, historically, it often took several releases from HR software vendors, and responding to customer feedback, before usability and depth of functionality reached acceptable levels. These factors could certainly contribute to a “negative bias” against HR Systems across different stakeholders and end-users, exacerbated further by how aggressively systems in the past were promoted as the missing piece in truly leveraging a workforce for competitive advantage. These potential negative biases or lack of receptivity to embracing the new system can be countered by framing the business case and designing all end-user communications in the context of “what’s in it for me?” This is obviously part of a much broader Change Management framework and program.

2. The importance of end-users being in control of, and accountable for, data quality.

According to industry research firm IDC, worldwide spending on HR software has now surpassed $5 billion USD annually, propelled in-part by organizations jumping on the SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) bandwagon. SaaS-delivered HR solutions allow customers to avoid the costly and disruptive upgrade cycles associated with on premise-installed enterprise software, make for much more predictable spends on HR Technology, and also enable customers to more readily share their experiences from using the software - as the SaaS model generally means they will all be using the same version of the software. Arguably, though, outside of effective change management, the biggest “Achilles’ heel” that continues to compromise business benefits that could be achieved from these investments is inadequate attention to data quality. A data ownership / accountability and integrity assurance plan must be a central part of every HR Technology rollout; and ownership should ideally be in the hands of the person who has the biggest vested interest in the data being correct!

3. Focusing on business drivers, how they might be changing over time, and how the HR Technology platform or software suite aligns with those drivers.

Successful organizations are usually very fluid, or to cite an over-used cliché, the only constant is change. When planning an HR Technology rollout, both planned and potential changes must be considered and factored-into the enterprise solutions being brought in; e.g., how scalable and adaptable is the software to a broad range of events and/or business decisions that might occur. Whether the change driver is a decision to expand into new markets, pursue a growth through M&A strategy, a move to outsource non-core functions or capability sets, or simply invest more heavily in talent management and employee retention / engagement programs, the software vendor’s current offerings and planned product roadmap must be evaluated against these possible scenarios to ensure on-going fit.

Steve Goldberg HR Technology & Transformation Advisor

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