3 Building Blocks for Successful Cloud HCM Software Projects

Foundation Blocks

In this Point of View, Covalence Consulting CEO Raymond Nunn details the key elements HR departments should be aware of when tackling a cloud-based HCM software effort.

Human Resources teams are often tasked with spearheading project success when organizations gear up to move to a cloud-based HCM solution. This may seem like a daunting task, especially when there are various geographic locations and/or a large and diverse workforce to consider. While no two projects are identical, there are certain key elements that on-time, on-budget and top-quality implementations have in common. Here, I outline the building blocks that every HR team should have in place to ensure an HCM project’s success.

Successful HCM software projects are built on a commitment to excellence—meaning quality. That's the glue that links your #HRTech vendor, consultant and team together. #HR #Software #Enterprise @CovalenceInc Click To Tweet

The Glue of HCM Software Teams

A commitment to excellence—meaning, quality—should be the glue that links your HCM software vendor, consultant and your team together. It’s one thing to state that the HCM project “will get done.” It’s entirely another to commit to delivery that’s on-time, within budget and reflects the highest possible quality.

While the idea of “committing to excellence” may seem abstract, it’s not. To put it succinctly, it doesn’t matter how fast your code is if it doesn’t give you the right answer. Quite frankly, getting your project done on-time and on-budget is inconsequential if the end result doesn’t improve your organization—or even perform calculations correctly. Your HCM software project should move the dial for your organization, providing a measurable ROI that has true impact.

This approach does more than keep your consultants, software company and team on the same page. It also ensures the configuration of an HCM system that truly works for your organization—and will continue to do so in the future. Nothing is as disheartening as having your consulting team leave, only to realize your months of work have led to an incomplete configuration that has little real-world value.

So how do you, as a client, attain this all-important synergy? By making sure your software vendor understands your goals from the outset. Are you implementing a completely new system, or replacing an existing one? What drove the purchasing decision? Are you looking to automate processes, functionality or policies which can’t be addressed within the current infrastructure? It’s key that HR teams communicate such goals even before a purchase decision is made. From the beginning, your consulting team must clearly understand your objectives.

Once you’ve chosen a consultant, it’s crucial for them to understand the logic of your requirements. They must be able to ascertain what functions your requested software configuration will perform after go-live. Beyond just understanding the target outcome, the HCM consultant should challenge your logic to ensure that it’s indeed the right course of action for your organization.

With these factors in play, your HR team will be able to drive your organization toward the finish line of a successful project yielding immediate ROI.

Build The Right HCM Software Team

Covalence Consulting’s
Raymond Nunn

For any project, the key to success is assembling the right team. The best teams always figure out how to make the software work for your needs. You may think that the right team consists of those in the corresponding functional roles. That’s not necessarily true. Just because your HCM software project is payroll-focused doesn’t mean the team should consist of only payroll professionals.

Choose core people who have the right skills and character traits to keep your HCM software implementation moving forward. These traits include being accountable for positive results and being highly responsible for their tasks. Such individuals can be from HR, IT or even Finance.

Your project team should have the right business understanding, which will allow it to see how crucial each configuration detail is and how it will affect business operations on a day-to-day basis. Your team should also have the authority to make decisions that stick. With a team empowered to actively manage decisions, your project will hit fewer road bumps.

And I can’t emphasize this enough: Ensure that at least one core person on your team has corporate clout. This individual doesn’t have to be a company executive. Rather it may be someone who’s seen as a leader, formally or informally, within the organization. They should be capable of getting corporate commitment to changes in systems, processes or people. That will allow them to make, or get, fast decisions.

Such decisions often touch on important elements of business operations–elements that can impact every employee, as well as the organization as a whole. Without an authoritative voice on the team, your project will be stuck in the “analysis” phase, and so undoubtedly drag on well beyond the planned go-live date.

Manage Your Project Scope

The key to staying on-budget lies within your project scope. Your goals, the associated tasks and anticipated deadlines must all be established and understood as your software project progresses. A deep understanding of the project’s scope will ensure that your team doesn’t veer off into pursuing tasks that are unrelated to your goal. Such swerving away from project scope leads to costly work which is unrelated to your desired outcome.

Remember, cost effective HCM software projects start with a clear understanding of their requirements. In HCM-speak this means knowledge of elements such as pay rules, required modules and the systems necessary to be interfaced are generally part of any HCM software project’s scope.

Also part of this knowledge is understanding the depth of the requirements in terms of their complexity. By recognizing that, you’ll avoid wasting your consultant’s billable hours on determining and communicating the basic details of your implementation.

HR teams are often surprised to learn they will have to consider and balance immediate ROI versus lifetime ROI. Your immediate ROI is used to justify the project to the company’s executive team. For this there are simple items to consider, such as the cost of building out automated solutions for small groups.

The more complex ROI decisions speak to the value your new HCM software will bring to your organization over time. For example, you may be called upon to decide whether you should customize a module at an extra cost now because it will pay for itself in the future through higher user adoption and the streamlining of manual processes. Be prepared to make such decisions, which you’ll have to justify when it comes to spending more for long-term value.

In addition to understanding your requirements, the HCM consultants should also familiarize themselves with your company culture. Often overlooked, this aspect of HCM software projects can be the foundation of a sturdy HCM framework within the agreed-upon budget. Share with your consultant’s team an idea of your organizational culture so they can design an effective HCM software project plan. This plan should include an approach to change management and processes that will move your company away from your legacy, on-premise system to the full featured use of your new cloud-based HCM software.

It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed when you’re made responsible for the completion of a cloud-based HCM software implementation. I firmly believe that using the key steps I’ve outlined here will guide you to the successful conclusion of an HCM software project that will bring value to your organization for years to come.

Raymond Nunn is founder and CEO of Covalence Consulting, which specializes in HCM and workforce management software implementation. Learn more here.

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Points of View adhere to the HCM Technology Report’s editorial guidelines but do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors.