Avoiding mistakes in your HRIS implementation

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OK - you’ve done the fun bit – selecting your new HRIS, and all it needs is to roll it out. Here’s where the real hard work begins, and this stage is littered with traps along the way. Here are three of the biggest.


Getting the project management wrong


  • If you get the project wrong, even picking the right application won’t save you!

  • DO get your own Project Manager. DO NOT rely on the vendor to project manage on your behalf as they will ultimately fail; how can they possibly balance priorities that conflict most of the time?

  • Keep the team small. Only people who have direct influence on the project should be in the core team. Others can be co-opted for various stages of the plan that relate to them.

  • A good number for the core team is three. Beyond that, you have a committee, which will make consensus difficult and may slow matters when team members are unable to make the meetings.

  • As for the Project Manager, let’s get this in context right away:

  • the Project Manager is unlikely to be able to combine the PM role with another day job

  • the Project Manager must have experience in interpreting the vendor’s plan, marshalling (and cajoling) resources, meeting deadlines and liaising with the vendor. It’s not a job for an amateur.

  • It’s very tempting for, say, an HR Manager to assume the role, but it is inadvisable unless they have the above-mentioned experience.

  • Ideally, you should use someone with the relevant experience from elsewhere within the organisation who can manage the timelines and resources and manage the vendor. Doing it this way, the experience stays in the organisation. Failing this, hire a professional Project Manager; it won’t be cheap, but having committed yourself to the solution you are not improving your chances of success by skimping on the essentials.

  • Whoever lands the Project Manager position MUST have discretion to take decisions (within budget and other agreed limits) and have priority access to resources when required without causing unnecessary interruption to normal activities. It is essential that all affected departments are consulted during the planning of the project on all matters that affect their people and resources.


Not winning the ‘hearts and minds’


  • Make sure that the incoming software is not something that just ‘happens’ to everyone; they all have a good reason for it to work for them, and their collaboration is vital to your success.
  • For a start, IT need to be on board: they don’t have to dictate what you get, but they have a vital role in providing technical information to the vendor, and for ensuring that the IT environment is suitable for the optimal running of your new software.
  • If your HRIS must export to another application, (e.g. Finance), make sure that you consult fully with your colleagues there too; they may want to take the opportunity for some changes themselves.
  • HR & Payroll software is invariably selected by senior HR professionals, but don’t forget that it’s not often that they get to use it themselves. Make sure that the application you fancy, with all those sexy features, isn’t going to turn out to be a nightmare to use at HR Assistant level. A little goodwill goes a long way.

Insufficient preparation


  • All too often, clients pay little attention to being in a state of readiness for the vendor’s consultant or analyst. They will do anything you want: but it will cost you. Every moment that your people are rummaging in files or querying data items, the consultant is sitting in your offices with the meter running.
  • Data Cleansing – it’s never too early to start cleansing your data. Personal details such as address and emergency contact can be garnered by a circular to all staff, and it’s a good moment – in the same form – to populate those empty fields you never got round to doing relating to Ethnicity, Disability and Marital Status (and Religion and Sexual Orientation if required). If you already have an Employee Self-Service application, hopefully all will already be up to date.
  • Populating the new application – many applications are populated by uploading a series of related spreadsheets via a data importer. You can assist this process by requesting the spreadsheet templates from the vendor, and populate them from your newly-cleansed data sources. Although this is time-consuming, it is a very sensible check on the data that you have, and gives you at least a bit more ownership and control over it.
  • Collecting and collating rules – there are two sets of rules: statutory and those set by the organisation. Statutory rules are set by government and standard across every organisation. These will include categories such as statutory maternity pay, statutory sick pay, minimum wage and basic holidays. Organisational rules are particular to that organisation and may affect occupational provisions such as sick pay, long service entitlements, pay grades and organisational hierarchy. As with data cleansing, it’s never too early too early to start collecting these rules together and tabulate them. Be sure to contact the vendor for a matrix of rules that will be required so that you have a guide.



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