Insights & Ideas

Planning an HR technology project? Read this first.

This article includes insights from Salo HR consultant Nikki Broderick, who specializes in leading business process analysis and complex HR technology solutions. With 20 years of experience in a variety of HR systems, industries, and general HR business functions; Nikki is a great partner, project manager, and coach for companies embarking on HR tech initiatives.

Implementing HR technology—such as an HRIS system—can feel overwhelming. After all, many HR professionals might only go through an implementation process once or twice in their careers.

As a consultant specializing in HR technology, I work on a handful of large-scale tech implementations every year—leading and coaching my clients through “the hard stuff.” Implementing technology doesn’t need to be stressful. Like any other type of project, there are tools and best practices that you can use to set you up for success. Here are a few of the most important things to know.

Top tips for making your HR system implementation successful

Don’t jump to tech solutions before assessing the current state

One of the most critical steps in any tech implementation is starting with an assessment of how the organization—employees, HR team, and finance stakeholders—uses technology today. Without a thorough assessment, organizations often transfer broken processes to the new technology and nothing really changes.

Using stakeholder interviews, system reviews, and process maps; assess these three areas:

  • People who use the system: What are their roles, responsibilities, and goals/expectations for technology.
  • Processes around the system: How do people interact with the system? What are their pain points? How does the system impact the organization’s processes?
  • Technology itself: What technology exists today? Was it implemented effectively? Are all the right features enabled?

The assessment helps start the change management process early. It identifies new technology needs as well as outlining necessary changes to processes or roles. And, for some companies, the assessment shows that the system they already have can do everything they need with a few tweaks, added functionality, or better employee training/communication.

Get internal alignment on expectations early

After the assessment, the next step is getting alignment—from leaders and technology users—in areas such as:

  • Their priorities for the system—both functional and intangible.
  • How success and progress will be measured.
  • What (internal or external) resources will be required for the implementation project.

In every HR tech project, resources capacity is always on my risk list. Outlining capacity needs early helps eliminate roadblocks later. Sometimes internal team members need external resources to help with their “day job” while they focus on an implementation. Have a plan for what team members could hand off if capacity becomes an issue for them later.

Be strategic about vendor selection

From RFP to signing contracts, the vendor selection process can be stressful for organizations. Reduce the stress and increase your chances of finding the right vendor (and avoid buyer’s remorse) by:

  • Writing a clear, enforceable RFP: The RFP should have clear business requirements and ask vendors to state which requirements they can fulfill. This allows you to focus on the most critical functionality during your demo and puts the accountability on the vendor if you uncover issues during or after implementation.
  • Creating use cases specific to the organization: Every organization is different, so defining unique scenarios or tricky functionality can help filter vendors.
  • Providing custom vendor scoring worksheets: Scoresheets can provide clarity on priorities and help team members reduce the emotion in their decision making. They also help stakeholders keep track of a variety of factors—from fundamental must-have technologies and integration to user experience and intangibles.
  • Perform demo debriefs: After each vendor presentation and the vendor leaves, ask every stakeholder to give their opinion. Make sure the leaders go last. By ensuring every voice is heard and nothing critical gets missed, this step helps build alignment for the project going forward.

Don’t let resources be a roadblock during implementation

When implementation starts, there’s a lot of work to be done. That’s where the resource pinch really hits. Be sure you have a plan for who will:

  • Refine requirements and define detailed functionality
  • Be the project manager
  • Test the system
  • Create training materials and onboard users

Have an HR technology expert on your team

When buying technology, the devil (and the opportunity) is in the details. Clarity is critical to making a confident decision. So, it’s important to have someone in the room with implementation experience to poke holes, ask pointed questions, translate vendor lingo, and get to a true proof of concept.

Maybe you have that person inside your organization. Or, maybe, you should consider an external expert to help for some or all of the project. As a HR technology consultant, it’s my job to keep the client in the driver’s seat. I know how the process works, provide tried-and-true tools, know vendors’ strengths, and advocate for my clients. That way, the clients can focus on their needs. Whether you have an internal resource or a consultant like me, having an expert on the team will give you confidence and ensure you get a system that meets your needs and expectations.

Considering an HR technology project? Already in the middle of tech project and feeling overwhelmed? Salo’s senior HR consultants, like Nikki, can help. Contact us to learn more.

Nikki Broderick
Nikki Broderick

Nikki Broderick

Manager of HR Solutions, Minneapolis