Sep 13, 2011
I started my day on Monday at 4am when my cab picked me up to head to the airport. As he missed the airport exit (how does that even happen?) I thought to myself that missing my plane would cause me to miss a series of 4 conference calls in the afternoon. Given that it was a 5 hour flight, that would also mean that I’d wind up on the redeye later in the afternoon, but still miss the start time for my meeting the following morning. One I realized that there seems to be very little slack in my week’s schedule. Any one thing goes wrong, my week falls apart and I start cancelling things. Luckily for me, I actually had to build some time for me to get to the airport early and do a call in the airport lounge (which I missed).
We often time our HR technology projects based on fictitious end dates. Sure, there are a few out there that make a whole lot of sense. It’s really nice if payroll implementations can go live on January 1. It’s nice if new benefits vendors go live in time for a new open enrollment season. But every once in a while, our CEO tells us in October that we had better have a new, global talent management system by January 1 in time for February performance reviews. Huh?
In most of our projects, we have actually messed up our overall project timelines. We don’t spend enough time thinking about some fairly significant parts of an implementation. We’re all about getting the requirements blueprint down and hitting the config tables. As you all know, I’m a big fan of prep. When we rush into implementations, there just isn’t enough time to reengineer our processes and realign what we are doing to our core HR strategies. We find out over and over again that we’ve simply reimplemented the same processes or the same config and not made HR any better. We find out that we didn’t spend time cleaning up our data and our reports are still horrible.
- Map to our mission and create actionable measurements of progress – Just because we map to our mission in the business case to implement a new system, does not mean we can stop measuring success. Success needs to be measured before implementation, during implementation, and score carded repeatedly after go live.
- Improve the quality of our data – data cleansing is not always sufficient. Yes, it’s true that we should not just import data and begin a new system with the same crappy data that we had before, but it is equally wrong to clean the data without addressing the fundamental problems that created the bad data in the first place. More on this in the next bullet.
- Redesign our processes – Process redesign is not just for the sake of aligning process with the new technologies. It’s an opportunity to address other issues within your environment. Often, our processes are actually the cause of data issues we have. Because we don’t use high quality data practices throughout our workflow, we end up auditing data on the back end when we catch only a fraction of the issues rather than ensuring high data quality throughout.
If we miss a step, it does not mean we don’t go live. Nor does it mean that our implementation was not any good. However, it might mean that our long term success is suboptimal. For HR to have continued credibility with upper management, we have to do all the steps that it takes to create long term success.