Are You Ready? 5 Steps to a Successful HCM Implementation

by | Feb 4, 2015

I’ve always been a fan of the illusionist Criss Angel. For those of you that know who he is and have seen his show Believe on Spike Television, the opening of the show starts with Mr. Angel stating, “Are you ready?” That very same question can be asked of you and your organization if you are starting to implement a new Human Capital Management system: “Are you ready?”

Your organization, like many others, have decided that your HCM solution needs a refresh/reboot/change of vendor. It’s natural that you are focused on your business requirements and the HCM solutions’ abilities to meet them. While the requirements gathering and general vendor selection tasks are critical tasks, it is equally if not more important that an organization needs to look at itself to determine if it is aware of what an HCM project really entails and prepared for what lies ahead. In short, “Are you ready?”

Assessing your organization’s readiness requires looking at five things:

1. Project Planning and Resource Commitment. “Plan the work. Work the plan”. This well-worn phrase certainly applies to your HCM initiative. What work are you planning? Do you have a realistic understanding of the various phases of the initiative? HCM initiatives are multifaceted, even for small business. From vendor selection to requirements gathering, solution design, build, testing, training, deployment and support, a lot needs to be done. Who will do that work? Who will work the plan? Your staff members and their knowledge of how things work today are a critical ingredient of your project’s success but it is unrealistic to think you can take them away from their day jobs for weeks or even months. You will need others to help lead the project and handle the day-to-day aspects of the implementation while your expert’s contribution will maximize efforts in a minimal amount of time.

2. Current and Future Processes Design. My old boss used to say “Son, if you automate a mess, all you have at the end of the day is an automated mess.” To that end, your organization needs to take on the task of documenting your current tasks (i.e., new hire, rehire, promotion, salary changes, etc.) as well as identify what the future processes will be. For example, what approvals are needed for various actions, or how do you standardize the job requisition process across all our various business units? This exercise not only will be extremely valuable as you move to the implementation of your HCM solution, but will also be extremely valuable as you identify your requirements for the vendor selection phase of your initiative. The hardest part for most organizations is thinking outside the box: you know what you do today but do you know what has to be changed and how to change it?

3. Data Integrity Analysis. “Garbage in, garbage out.” The quality of the data you put into your HCM solution will have a dramatic and direct impact on the system delivered to your users. An HCM system requires a lot of data, and much of it already exists in your organization. Examples include your organization structure, positions/job titles, salary grades and core employee data. Before your HCM project starts, it is important to know where this data resides and if it is accurate. If the data exists in multiple systems, you will need to decide how to consolidate it. If the data is inaccurate, you will need to clean it up.

4. Testing Strategy. Testing is both the most critical component and the most overlooked component of an HCM initiative. Any errors with an HCM solution can be detrimental to business operations. So, you need to go into production with confidence. What are you going to test? Who is going to test? How long are you going to test? What is your exit criteria as you go from one test phase to the other? Have you engaged your various business partners (i.e. 3rd party vendors) so that you can test the integration between systems? These are but a few areas that need to be evaluated in your testing review.

5. Training and support programs. The last component to be evaluated for readiness is training and support. After all, if people do not know how the system is intended to be used and have no resource to get an answer from, the system won’t be used. How are you going to train your users on this new application? What has worked well in training users? What hasn’t worked well? How are you going to support the application? Will support be handled via your normal support processes or is there an additional support group that needs to be enabled by your organization?

What separates a successful HCM project from a less successful one is an organization’s ability to address these five points. Understanding them and how your organization will respond is critical for success. Axsium’s Project Readiness service ensures your organization is prepared before you embark on your new HCM journey. By leveraging our HCM experience and domain expertise, at the conclusion of our Project Readiness service you can confidently answer “yes” when asked, “Are you ready?”

Questions? Comments? Feel free to contact me at You can also follow me on Twitter at @tjpierce65

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