Building the Right Staffing Model for Your HR Systems Project: Part Two

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In this two-part article, our team of human capital management specialists cover key concepts to consider when staffing an HCM project, whether it is an on-premise vendor implementation, internal development or a cloud-based deployment.

In part one of this series, we discussed building the right staffing model for your HR systems project by hiring the right support. In the final article of the two-part series, we discuss dispelling the belief that your existing staff can handle the project while still performing their current jobs and how proper staffing is critical to a successful cloud implementation.

Key Concepts: Dispel the belief that your existing staff can handle this project while still performing their current jobs

staff-augmentation-concept; colorful pegs guarded by human hands resting over topOrganizations have always had to find ways to do more with less. From limited resources, time and funds, it’s understandable why organizational leaders can sometimes be reluctant to add additional headcount. But, the contrary would mean overworking talent and unfortunately lead to employee burnout. This is especially true when implementing the large undertaking of a new HR system.

During these instances, organizations often observe employee burnout when project responsibilities aren’t properly allocated, as a new project increases the demands of staff by adding a full complement of time-sensitive tasks surrounding the HR project, while continuing the support and management of the current production systems. Leaders must realign their expectations when implementing a significant project and learn to balance the demands of the project among their current staff and much needed project staffing support.

A resistance to staff augmentation is natural. Nonetheless, staff augmentation greatly benefits teams and management, since expecting current staff to shoulder day jobs (as complex as they are) as well as the demands of an implementation puts a project – and employees – at risk.

Proper staffing for critical projects reduces burnout by better managing workloads and allows employees to feel valued and available to influence critical decisions.

Key Concepts: Why proper staffing is critical to a successful cloud implementation

In a cloud deployment, a project team is comprised of functional experts, team members with institutional knowledge and leadership with a willingness to change the way the organization works. The goal of a cloud deployment is to create operational efficiencies and harmonize business processes. It also improves operational controls, takes advantage of best practices and leverages the vendor and implementation partners’ industry expertise with competitive intelligence. This means staff are not only concerned about communicating requirements to an implementation partner; they must also have the time and “brain cycles” to look for and design improvement opportunities.

These changes typically require the support of senior staff and business managers. The change management members of the team work closely with core project team members to understand the change, assess change impacts as well as understand cost, benefit and how to message these changes back through the organization.

For example: on a recent project, staff augmentation and delegation among existing teams  was a significant struggle within the organization. The entirety of the implementation work fell to a small core team, and the rest of the group was left in the dark. Unfortunately, the last two months leading up to the go-live date was when the core team realized there was a growing list of remaining go-live tasks, along with the added requirement of getting the remainder of their team up to speed, trained and prepared for the changes ahead. The very long hours and stresses of the upcoming change proved to be more than daunting for this small core team.

Exhausted, fearful and highly stressed key team members are often not able to stay sharp and focused during critical cycles of an implementation.

Key Concepts: Building a staff augmentation budget

Now that you understand why it’s important to augment staff, you are ready to build a staff augmentation budget. To build a staff augmentation budget, organize expenses by functional area and timeline (by week, month or phase of the project). You can also list costs by what the consultants and contractors need.

A sample can be seen in the table below. Because size, scope and need vary by project, this example is illustrative only.

If the scope of a project changes, don’t forget to revisit the staffing model to make appropriate adjustments. The staffing model should be a “living” document – changes can and will happen that cause you to adjust.

It is strongly recommend to backfill functional SMEs for their day-to-day responsibilities. This allows the employees from your organization with institutional and domain knowledge to fully participate in the project. It also provides an additional perspective on existing processes and may uncover opportunities to improve, streamline or eliminate activities that no longer serve the organization.

Key Concepts: Completing a comprehensive skills analysis

As you review the project plan and the resources needed, you should have detailed conversations with your consulting partner about the specific skills that are required for each role. We have discovered that there is a common set of skills that all team members should have and specific skills that are needed for individual roles.

Common Skills & Abilities

  • Communication skills
  • Willingness and ability to create documentation around decisions and processes
  • A team focus
  • The ability to support work on off-hours and a focus on deliverables
  • A focus on quality and peer support
  • A strong understanding of why the organization is undertaking the project and the specific benefits to be realize
  • An understand of and a belief in the project guiding principles
  • An ability to be flexible, as there will be times when an employee will need to change and adapt quickly
  • Strong decision-making skills

Specific Skills

  • Change Management skills
  • Project Management experience and abilities
  • Knowledge of existing data
  • Knowledge of processes and integration flow
  • Knowledge of how to extract and translate data tools (typically the implementation partner will have the necessary skills and tools to load data)
  • Excel, MS Access, SQL, HTML knowledge
  • Business process design, including knowledge of operational controls and good audit practices
  • Government compliance and local legislation

Your Best Project

Properly staffing a project has important and even critical concepts that enable success. A properly staffed project has many benefits, including:

  • A realistic budget that reflects the resources needed
  • Balanced workload for team members
  • Access to experienced resources that can facilitate knowledge transfer
  • Improved quality of deliverables because team member have adequate time to focus
  • An ability to make adjustments to staffing model as scope changes
  • Reduced burnout of team members
  • The project is more likely to go live on time and on budget

To get in touch with our team of HCM and HR professionals, please contact us. We’d love to talk!

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About our authors

Richard Lawler

Richard Lawler

Richard Lawler is a managing director, who provides clients with assistance in strategic planning and technology assessment, business process design and improvement, as well as project management. He also offers objective independent advice on the identification, design and deployment of HR business processes and offers project management expertise and advisory services to organizational leadership. Richard has experience with many software vendors including Workday, Oracle, SAP, ADP and Infor.

Ken Cranney

Ken Cranney

Ken Cranney is a senior managing director whose areas of expertise include strategic planning, organizational design, process and systems analysis, vendor evaluation and selection and change management. His industry experience includes government, higher education, financial services, healthcare, life sciences, manufacturing, property management and retail.

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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