HR software is seen as the backbone of many businesses. Supporting your people and enabling your HR team to contribute to delivering strategic people initiatives; it is a piece of software that every single employee will use to request annual leave, sign contracts, claim expenses and much more.
As such, implementing HR software is not a task to be taken lightly; it requires planning and preparation in order for it to be a success. But as long as you take the process step by careful step, you can ensure your business’ smooth transition to a more effective, streamlined HR department.
Having supported our customers through our fair share of implementation projects here at Natural HR, we know a thing or two about what makes them go without a hitch. So, we’ve shared 7 of the simplest changes you can make throughout your implementation process that will make all the difference to your project’s success (and your stress levels!)
Enlist a project team
The old adage ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ rings resoundingly true in every software implementation. Surrounding yourself with a group of colleagues that are able to support you and have different skillsets to you is so important.
For an HR software project, at minimum, we’d recommend you involve someone in HR, someone in IT and someone to be a project manager.
Each will have their own different skillsets and capabilities that will keep your project running smoothly. Your helper from IT might be the most data-savvy with heaps of experience implementing software. Whereas your project manager will be organised, able to lead and driven by deadlines – they also don’t always have to be a project manager by trade.
Assign their responsibilities early on, so all of your helpers are well versed in what is expected of them. Who will gather your employee data? Who will take care of the configuration? Who will conduct the training? Who is responsible for overseeing the whole project and assessing the outcome? Getting the right team on side to lead the implementation of your HR software can make all the difference in its success.
Keep communication flowing
When you’re in the throes of implementation, it can be easy to get bogged down in collecting and collating employee data while thinking about your workflows, processes and as a result, your communication can suffer.
Make a concerted effort to maintain communication, whatever that looks like in your business. It may be a daily stand-up with your project team, weekly check-ins with your chosen provider’s implementation manager or communicating with your employees about what is coming.
Maintaining an open line of communication between all of your project stakeholders will ensure there are no bumps in the road when implementing your HR software. And talk to each other! There is no use if all the communication with your implementation manager is holed up in your Head of HR’s inbox who just happens to have gone on holiday for two weeks.
Work towards an agreed project timeline
A project timeline with key milestones is often overlooked in many HR software implementations in favour of a simple target go-live date some way off in the future.
Most good software vendors will use a project management tool (Asana, Trello, Basecamp or something similar) that will allow for collaboration on a timeline and ensure complete visibility of roles, responsibilities and deadlines for both you and your provider, so use them!
They are a great way to visualise the progress of your project and to make plans to hit each milestone. And we all know just how satisfying ticking off a big task on our jobs list is!
Tidy up your data
Now is the ideal time to give your employee data a spring clean. One of the main reasons why HR systems fail is because of the quality of the data that is fed into it. If you put rubbish in, you’ll get rubbish out.
Take the time to remove inaccurate data, update email addresses and telephone numbers, check job titles, line managers and salaries. Consider where your holiday and sickness records are kept as well as employment documents such as contracts, CVs and job descriptions. How will you gather and compile data sets for holiday history, sickness history, training records and expense claims?
We know it can feel like an arduous task, particularly if you have hundreds of staff but trust us, you’ll be grateful you invested the time. It’s much easier to do it now rather when you’ve gone live with a system.
Our biggest nugget of advice when you are collating your data? Be consistent, particularly in your naming conventions. If your employee data has a ‘Robert Jones on file, but your annual leave spreadsheet has him down as ‘Rob’ or ‘Robbie’ – the system will treat these as two separate employees so the employee records will not be merged. Many systems will use IDs that are unique to each record. If possible, work with these to ensure your data isn’t duplicated.
Put yourself in your employees’ shoes
When implementing HR software, it’s very easy to get side-lined by the process itself. From collating employee data and records, to change process and setting up automated workflows; it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of how it will be used in practice by your employees.
Throughout implementation, try to put yourself in your employee’s shoes. Think about how they currently carry out a task like booking a holiday or claiming expenses and think about how they will be expected to perform these within your chosen HR software. It might require some process change; it might be able to be mirrored in the software, but try to keep in mind how your workers will be expected to use it day-to-day as their adoption will determine the success or failure of the system
Naturally, your provider should be asking you these kinds questions throughout your implementation to gain an in-depth understanding of your business’ processes and procedures before helping you to translate this into your HR software.
Remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint
Every employee will probably use your HR software at some point, whether to request annual leave or complete their quarterly performance review; it is a piece of software that impacts every corner of your business.
Implementation doesn’t happen overnight. As you can imagine, collecting data for each of your employees is a detailed process. This is even before you’ve thought about automated workflows, any required changes to your processes, your go-live plan, how to train your users, and so on.
Don’t rush yourself to get your HR software implemented as soon as is humanly possible; you’ll only stand to make mistakes. It is one of the biggest software implementations a business will ever undertake, so take your time with it, focus on the detail and work in partnership with your provider – they know their stuff. Measure twice, cut once.
You’ve made it! Your HR software is ready to go live. You’ve done the hard work, your employees have been trained, your system has been set-up with the help of your implementation manager and the ‘launch’ button is ready to be hit.
So, celebrate it! Your launch party is a great way to get your employees together, answer any burning questions, reinforce the reasons why you’ve chosen to implement HR software and explain what benefits they can expect, too.
Ask your supplier what they can offer to help your internal launch too. They may have content and templates at the ready that they can share with you to support your launch day.