The Tricks and Traps of Change Management During HCM Software Implementation

Chas Fields, HCM Strategic Advisor, Kronos

Chas Fields, HCM Strategic Advisor, KronosChas Fields, HCM Strategic Advisor, Kronos

There you are, sitting in the conference room during your weekly meeting wondering “how did we get here?” Your colleagues continue to complain about how difficult it is to find and hire talent and how manual and mundane your organization’s processes are. The headaches extend beyond your team, too. Hiring managers are frustrated and you recently missed out on an all-star candidate who went to a competitor because it took too long to get them the formal offer letter.

As the leader of Talent Acquisition, you know a human capital management (HCM) solution is coming in the near future to help with these and other workforce struggles, but even more work needs to be done to get ready. Chief among them, understanding what your managers need and how to get the entire organization away from “the old way of doing things.”

Preparing for Change

This is a scenario that plays out at organizations every day as HR leaders focus on digitizing, modernizing, and fundamentally transforming how their function operates. It’s a necessary evolution, too: to be competitive, organizations must react and respond to economic conditions to keep operating costs in check.

The booming economy now has talent acquisition professionals taking a hard look at their processes and procedures, some for the first time since the mid-2000s. In fact, a new study from Kronos and Human Capital Institute titled “How High-performing Organizations Compete for Talent” found more than half (53 percent) of organizations are planning to make major changes to their recruiting strategy over the next two years as virtually every key metric, including number of open positions, time-to-hour, and cost-per-hire, have increased over the last 24 months.

Change is challenging. By most reports, up to three-quarters of change management projects fail to meet their objectives. While predicting how others adapt to change can be daunting, here are three tricks to remember – and three traps to avoid –to make HCM projects a resounding success.

Trick #1: Ask who really needs to be involved

As HR practitioners, we often back ourselves into a corner by involving too many people. We know that everyone has an opinion and specific needs. We want to ensure everyone is heard, but without letting things spiral out of control. Take a step back and ask: who are the key influencers in each department? Once identified, ask them “What is most important in the hiring process? Is this repeatable and efficient?”

There are commonalities amongst opinions that can be leveraged. Simple tasks like being able to request for additional hires or backfilling an open position. Be sure to include a discussion around “What experiences do we want our end users, internal and external, to have?”These discussions will help organizations begin to shape the workflows and system design to execute for faster hiring.

Trick #2: Communicate properly

Communication is an easy task that can cause disruption if not executed properly. Just like confusion can ensue with too little communication, poorly planned communication can have the same impact. Be clear and concise in messaging and consider strategies that address both key milestones and tactical concerns, such as:

• Timing – When will the project be rolled out?

• Training – When will it take place and who is receiving it? Why those individuals?

• Points of Contact – Who can employees direct their questions to? Who are the project advocates?

• Impact – Be clear and upfront about how this change will make everyone’s job easier.

Delivering a strong communication plan will help drive value well before the product is rolled out.

Trick #3: Execute a phased rollout

A new system can be overwhelming. Team members tasked with using the new solution must be willing to change their routines and processes. For those that are more hesitant to change what has worked for them in the past, a phased rollout can be optimal. Utilizing a phased rollout plan, organizations have the advantage of taking the time needed to train and assess the experiences that the staff is having.

"Communication is an easy task that can cause disruption if not executed properly. Just like confusion can ensue with too little communication, poorly planned communication can have the same impact. "

Start with a pilot with a small department that feels comfortable – and empowered! – to provide candid feedback. Identify what workflows and notifications are working and which processes aren't. Measure the time it takes from managers requesting a requisition to posting the job. When workflows and processes have been optimized and the test group has high confidence in the new solution, continue the rollout to additional departments one at time – using the pilot group as advocates and change agents – to ensure a smooth transition.

Trap #1: Stop automating bad processes

New software is versatile. Too often companies purchase a solution, begin to implement, and then choose to operate under the same legacy principals and processes. For instance, organizations often take their existing employment application and simply recreate it to serve as online version.

Often times, what’s suited for pen and paper is not suited for a mobile phone or tablet, which is where many job seekers originate these days. This leads to low application completion rate, high application abandonment rates, and lower quality candidates. In the example of a unified suite, this will also further compound matters later on when the system is unable to reconcile the application with the core employee record when a candidate is hired – a key benefit of the unified suite approach the cuts down on data entry and results in one true employee record.

Instead, leverage the chosen software partner’s implementation consultants to help lead and guide in how the system can be utilized for more efficient and effective task completion.

Trap #2: Avoid giving the naysayers momentum

Yes, we said it. Think about it: every project typically has someone in the room that opposes, criticizes, or objects without a true foundation for an argument. Meetings simply become a festival of complaints about things employees don’t like about the solution(s).

A majority of the time, the root of these complaints is derived from those who are resistant to change. Managers must recognize immediately what is happening. Table the conversation and meet one on one with these individuals to understand their concerns, which may or may not be valid.

Trap #3: Stakeholders must avoid negativity

As leaders of any project rollout, everyone has been guilty from time-to-time of talking freely about things that aren’t going smoothly. Be wary of word choice and who these areas of concern are discussed with.

Being in a position of leadership, it’s the project manager’s responsibility to lead, guide, and direct those involved. The team is listening to every criticism about new processes, features, and functions, and will feel empowered to do the same, derailing optimism and opportunity. Instead, focus on organizational goals. If there are concerns – or even just frustrations – voice them with the vendor implementation team early on. At the end of the day, remember the original starting point – mundane, manual, and ineffective processes.

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