Better to start off at 80 percent

If you’re planning a new HR software implementation project, you first have to set the right course and rethink processes. In this article, we give you tips on how to make this transformation as quick, precise and successful as possible.
February 28, 2020
4 min
Jan Herrmann, Senior Consultant Jan Herrmann

For a long time, HR software was mainly geared toward conventional topics such as payroll and time management. Things have fundamentally changed since then. Digitalization and employee enablement, along with previously “soft” topics such as learning and employee appraisals, are now core objectives of modern human resources and, by extension, the corresponding software. It’s no longer a question of whether companies should embrace these changes – it’s a question of how. With that in mind, I’d like to share a few thoughts and recommendations with you.

First, you need to decide on how to approach implementation

In many cases, before implementing any HR software, you will have to make some fundamental decisions – what goals do you want to achieve? Do you want to use standard software or do you need custom modifications? To find the right answer to this, it helps to clarify a few additional questions based on your objectives:

  • Do you have a strong corporate governance infrastructure that enables you to make even difficult decisions when it comes to choosing your standard?
  • Can you cope with software that does not always map your processes 100 percent but offers a whole host of best practices that can be used to find a workaround?
  • Could you perhaps even utilize this workaround to your advantage by carrying out some long-overdue data cleansing, for example, and thus launching your new HR IT system landscape on a clean slate?
  • What will help hone your competitive edge?

To answer these questions you should consider when it is worthwhile departing from the standard and when it isn’t. It’s important to remember that deviating from the standard can lead to different structures and, as a consequence, different data truths in your system. This results in increased outlay and reduced efficiency for your business because it makes upkeep, maintenance and comparability more difficult.

One possible solution would be to work with experienced expert advisors and start off by sacrificing 20 percent so you can reconcile 80 percent of all your target groups’ needs in the system in a single step. You can then tackle any deviations as part of a change request procedure, which examines whether any modifications are really necessary and what effects they would have. Alternatively, you can implement additional software that can be seamlessly integrated and offers additional functions your current standard does not have.

Transition to the common operating model through functional recalibration

Transition to the common operating model through functional recalibration

Practical example – HR system of record

Here is an example from our own experience. We introduced a new HR system of record for an international company. In this context, implementing a system of record means harmonizing the various systems a company uses and the relevant operating modes. This kind of project was unchartered territory for the company. What’s more, the planned changes went far beyond straightforward software implementation.

The customer brought us on board to eliminate the risk of potential problems right from the start and because we have been successfully implementing HR software such as SAP-HCM and SuccessFactors for over two decades. We supported the project by offering an overall vision, HR and IT governance, process and technical expertise and robust change management within the project and organization.

Implementing a highly configurable solution – and I’m not talking about customized software here – brings about huge changes within companies. This also results in the clear convergence of specialist and technical expertise within businesses, among other things. More importantly, however, this also fundamentally changes the organization and roles of HR and IT. The digital transformation, which is the topic of much discussion these days, goes much further than many think.

Getting a head start

Over the course of our projects, we often see our customers completely transform the way they are organized. The process of redesigning the way workflows will be organized – to suit custom requirements – has now become an integral part of software implementation for an HR IT system.

It’s important to remember that you have to meet the requirements for these far-reaching changes before you even make a start on the new system. You first need to rethink your organization, ensure you have the skills you need and establish trust. Having a partner at your side who is familiar with projects like these is a real help in this regard. Do you have any questions? I would be more than happy to answer them personally.

One more thing before I go – in the spirit of “practicing what you preach”, we’d be happy to walk you through how we successfully made the transition from Excel to SAP SuccessFactors.

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