I love it when consultants come in and talk to you about all the things you need to do around an implementation. Obviously your implementer is going to do all the normal things around table configuration and testing, but they often miss some of the bigger items. When consultants come in to talk about the other stuff, they are usually not particularly comprehensive – they like to talk about change management. Change management is a wonderful thing, but it still does not mean you’re going to have a successful deployment, no matter how good the change program is. There are so many things that go into swapping your HR technologies out that missing any of them could spell disaster.
- Foundation. I don’t know why so little time is spent on the foundation of any HR system. Whether it’s core HR or talent management, there are some pretty big foundation issues that you should be looking at before you even think about starting an implementation. Whether you like it or not, half of your problem with your prior system was not the system. Half of your problem was that you screwed up the foundation, and had you gotten it right, you’d never be moving to a new system anyway. Either you messed up the organizational structure and after that it was all downhill, or your jobs never made sense, or your security was horrible and ultimately your own poor security decisions ended up in horrific data quality. Perhaps you didn’t really think through competencies or goals well enough when you did your first talent management implementation because the talent market was so young that nobody really knew what they were doing. Either way, fix it now before you configure tables, because your implementer really just wants to get values in the table and stay on time – not help you figure out what the right org structure is for the next 10 years.
- Decommissioning. Ok, there are easy parts and hard parts. The easy parts are reports, interfaces and data conversion. Heck, that’s just part of any old implementation. Of course we’re going to convert those. But wait, did you say we’re not converting history? How long are we going to have to access the old system for? Does that mean we’re running reports out of 2 systems? Wait, have we done analysis around the downstream systems and not just creating interfaces? Listen, if you’re changing the org structure (see #1 above), you had better prepare every singe downstream system (and downstream from the downstream system) to get ready for new values or structures. It’s not just about an interface or a report. What you are doing is going to have far reaching impact – especially if it’s core HR. Last thing you need to do is mess up some random headcount report that goes to the board of directors just because it comes out of a system 2 interfaces removed from core HR.
- Implementation. This is obviously one of the things that will get covered. Your chosen implementer is going to be all over table configuration, and they are motivated to be on time and under budget. That’s really where the problems comes in – you want them to be on time and under budget, but you’d also like to think that they are going to be strategically minded and help you out with other things above. 90% of the time they are not. The cost model that your purchasing people drove them to simply won’t allow them to help you out, and even if thoy could, do you really want a group of people operating in the weeds of table configuration to also operate at the highest strategy levels? Usually not.
- Change Management. Can we please get away from thinking that training and communication is all there is to change management? Realistically, the estimate you should be using for change management should be about 20% of the implementation budget. That’s right, if you are spending $1M on implementation, you should have a $200k budget. When things start to get tight, the first things to go are any real hopes for change management. If you don’t get your audience analysis and change strategy right, all you’re going to have are vendor provided training and generic communications. Listen people, the new technology is 80% adoption and 20% everything else in the equation of success. If you want to be successful, don’t cut the 20% of change management budgets, cut $200k out of your implementation and live without a piece of functionality.
Sorry – am I ranting? It’s not just implementation, table configuration and change management. You can get all of those perfect and still have a bad outcome. In order to get it right, you have to do all of the activities, including the ones that are not totally obvious at first, and including the ones that your consultants are not trying to sell to you.