Implementing or migrating to a new human capital management (HCM) solution is a critical step toward enhancing efficiency, productivity, and overall success within organizations—but it’s also a massive undertaking. Without a well-thought-out strategy, even the most innovative solutions can fail to deliver the intended results.
Let’s dive into an overview of why having an HCM implementation strategy is so important, the most common types of implementation strategies, and best practices for ensuring a successful transition.
What is an HCM implementation strategy?
An HCM implementation strategy is a thoughtfully crafted plan that outlines the timeline, steps, and resources needed to introduce a new HCM solution in the most efficient way possible. It serves as a roadmap to guide stakeholders and decision makers through the entire implementation process. It typically covers every detail from the initial evaluation of the organization’s needs to the final rollout and ongoing support thereafter.
Adopting a new solution is a time-consuming process, but with a comprehensive plan in place, stakeholders can avoid making last-minute decisions, make sure that the right people are involved in and working on the right pieces of the project, and configure the new solution correctly.
What are the different types of HCM implementation styles?
There are two main HCM implementation styles: big bang and phased rollout.
In a big bang approach, a new solution is rolled out organization-wide all at once. Big bang rollouts offer shorter timelines, cost savings from less time being spent maintaining a historical system, and a swift transition. While a big bang offers the advantage of a rapid transformation, there are also some risks associated—for example, there might be unknown glitches that surface on the go-live date.
Phased approaches involve rolling out new solutions in a series of planned phases. Each new phase builds on the previous one, which allows the organization to learn and adapt to changes and challenges. Though a phased implementation can be less disruptive, it can also take a much longer duration and cost more money for the organization.
Sometimes organizations opt to use both styles of implementation combined. With this approach, the implementation might be broken down into several phases that are each implemented through smaller big bangs.
Seven best practices for a successful HCM implementation
Aside from the technical aspects, there are several important things that should be done in preparation for an effective transition to a new solution.
- Engage stakeholders from the very start. Involving key stakeholders, including executives, managers, and frontline employees, from the early stages of planning helps foster a sense of camaraderie, commitment, and ownership around the project tasks.
- Ensure open communication. Frequent check-ins with the implementation project team can correlate directly to overall success. Focusing on the purpose of the project and discussing it frequently can also boost higher satisfaction among employees at a time when their everyday tasks are constantly changing, and things might feel more unstable than usual.
- Provide the proper training. Comprehensive training programs for employees and end users can help equip the workforce with the necessary skills and knowledge to start using the new solution right away—plus, it can help build excitement around using a new system.
- Prepare for risks. Any seasoned project manager knows that changes can happen at any time. Make sure to set expectations around how the implementation team should manage unexpected issues or challenges to prevent misunderstandings when dilemmas arise.
- Make data-driven decisions. Rely on your organization’s data and analytics to help make informed decisions throughout the process. Using constructive insights can help fine-tune the process as you go.
- Address difficulties in change management. Resistance to change is a very common experience. By addressing these feelings among employees early, you can help them visualize the benefits of moving to a new solution and engage “champions of change” who can advocate for and inspire others to embrace the transformation.
- Continue to evaluate and improve. The implementation process doesn’t end once the new solution is launched—there is still much work to be done. Leadership must evaluate the performance of the new solution regularly and gather important feedback from employees and customers as time goes on. Collecting information like this can help make necessary improvements and adjustments that further overall success.
Achieving success with your HCM implementation strategy
A well-planned implementation strategy is the necessary foundation for a successful deployment. By learning everything you can beforehand and assessing your organization’s needs, setting clear expectations, and choosing the right HCM implementation style, you’ll be able to streamline processes, enhance customer and employee satisfaction, and reinforce overall success after everything is said and done.
Check out The Great Debate: Choosing an Implementation Strategy to create the best plan for your organization with valuable insights about the process, lists of pros and cons for different methods, and thoughtful questions to support your decision-making approach.