How to prepare for new HR software

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You skillfully sold the efficiency benefits, reporting tools, user experience, data handling and security. The board are excited about the supercharged strategic capabilities HR plans to deploy.

That’s all great, well done, but don’t start celebrating. You’ve still got some work to do to ensure your implementation delivers.

Our specialists have managed hundreds of implementations. This is their advice.

Preparation. Preparation. Preparation.

Now’s your chance to have honest conversations about why things are done the way they are, develop a detailed current picture and identify the specific elements that could be transformed to help deliver the objectives you so eloquently sold the board.
Step back and assume nothing is off limits. Everything must justify its continued existence.

Because the best software in the universe will still struggle to deliver its promised benefits if the following three critical elements are not prepared:

Prepare your processes

Know what they are. Write them down. Then decide what you want them to be.
If your processes are inherently inefficient to begin with, transferring them to a new system is only shifting the problem. Develop a view on where efficiencies can be gained; deciding in granular detail what will be carried over into the new system, what will be transformed and what will be jettisoned.
The easiest way to do this is to write your processes down; all of them, every element, from beginning to end. Not only will this give you the visibility you need at this stage, but it will often yield immediate insights into where time can be saved or reveal how a process has grown surprisingly unwieldy and inefficient over time without anyone noticing. Knowing exactly what your processes are currently allows you to start formulating how you’ll want them to look in the future.

Key questions:

  • What can be automated?
  • What can be owned by employees or managers?
  • What are the insights you want that your current system does not provide?

Reporting: We always recommend our new customers undertake a full audit of all their reporting functions. Not just ‘which reports are we creating and how?’, but ‘why?’.
What purpose does each report serve? Who does it go to? And what has that person been achieving with it every month for however long they’ve been receiving it?
Again, this is about tasks having to justify their existence.

Prepare your data

Anything less than clean, accurate data will put you on the back foot immediately and jeopardise the efficiencies and benefits you’ve promised to deliver. 
Data auditing and cleansing is not quick or easy, so it should begin as soon as you’re committed to the idea that an implementation is on the cards. Work through your data systematically, identify missing or inaccurate information, and delete any data that is no longer required.  
The more data is processed, re-keyed or transferred, the more touch-points it encounters, the more likely you will find errors, so it makes sense to start with the most-heavily processed data. 

Key questions:

  • Where is our data currently, and in what formats?
  • Who currently has access to our data?
  • How transparent are we about the data we hold?
  • Where can users be empowered to check and update their own data
  • What data does the new system need access to in order to deliver the required objectives?

Prepare your team

Involve administrators from the beginning.

We often find that the most valuable people in a project are the ‘doers’, the people who use the system every day. That’s why we advise customers to make them part of the process, from planning to decision-making and implementation.

Decisions made by solely by business leaders do not always adequately reflect reality for the people whose hands are on the gears day-to-day. Knowing how a HR & Payroll system should function is an administrator’s job. So use their knowledge and experience to inform your planning and strategy.

Some organisations may not have the dedicated project management resource to bring in, and in those cases, responsibility for the project often falls to HR. If you are a HR professional with first-class software project management skills, congratulations, you’re in the minority.

If not, lean on the relevant skills of other people in the business, particularly in IT and finance, where systems and data expertise already exist. Prepare a feedback and testing team that spans the organisation, both crossways and top to bottom.

Not only will this ensure you have access to insight and perspective from end users and managers, but involving multiple stakeholders creates ambassadors for the project within their business units. These ambassadors help with profile and general buy-in for your project and can become representatives when it comes to end user training and development in new system processes.

Finally, handle change sensitively:

An administrator who has delivered the same process in the same way for years might be completely calm after learning that the thing they have always owned will soon be automated.

On the other hand, change can be traumatic for some people. And it’s equally likely that they’ll react with anxiety, fear, even anger.

Be transparent, supportive and sensitive. Involve them from the beginning and at every stage.

If you liked this, you might be interested in our guide to comparing HR software.