Case Study – Process Improvement and System Optimization Post Go-Live

Client Background:

A financial services organization employed approximately 1,000 staff members at the onset of our assessment. Additionally, they were about nine months into using their new HR and Payroll cloud-based solution. The key users in HR, Benefits and Payroll were uncomfortable with the tool, and most of the paper-based processes that were in place prior to the go-live were still being used – despite the available features and functionality they had purchased. The client asked Sikich for expertise in the HCM Technology area with specific knowledge of the vendor and solution they were using.


The goal of this initiative was to assess and document the HCM solution’s environment and its effect on the financial services organization’s processes, staff and policies. This assessment was used to determine how the product solution met or did not meet the needs of the organization. This assessment also included other areas of HR and Payroll not included in the deployed solution, such as those planned for a Phase II.

Sikich and the client agreed to a Statement of Work that included services for:

  • Project Management
  • Detailed Current State Review and Assessment
  • Preparation and Presentation of Findings and Recommendations to the Client

The approach to this assessment involved travelling to the client site and spending time with not only key HR/Payroll users but also with senior management. Sikich prepared a great deal for these in-person meetings by requesting client materials ahead of time and gathering/studying as much information as possible. Sikich prepared detailed agendas for the in-person meetings so that participants could prepare and so that the time for both Sikich and the client could be maximized.


Having a well-matched consultant on a project like this is critical. In this case, the Sikich consultant had many years of corporate HR practitioner and HRIS management experience, multiple past clients in the industry and strong bench strength in the specific product suite with which this client was struggling. Therefore, the client in-person meetings flowed smoothly, and all relevant information was discussed and analyzed. This allowed for follow-up topics that the client may have not known to present as a question or an issue, too.

Oftentimes in an assessment like this, some users in the in-person meetings may restrain, to a certain extent, out of fear of being viewed as “at-fault” in the difficulties the organization experienced. This is common and understandable, so it is important to employ active listening techniques with an empathetic ear to gently break down any defensiveness that might arise. The point is to avoid having the client feel like they are “getting the third degree” in terms of how questions are presented. Simultaneously, it’s also important to also keep to the agenda and move conversations along productively.

Sample Findings:

  • Outstanding implementation issues
    • Faulty configuration for areas such as Time Management, PTO and GL – caused continued manual workarounds
    • Because the go-live date was January 1, the W2 mappings were not completed
    • Integration with 403(b) vendor incomplete – caused continued manual workarounds
  • Vendor management
    • The Tax Filing service at the vendor experienced system wide failures impacting client tax filings, and this was not yet fully resolved
    • There wasn’t a single reliable Issues Log that was tracked and managed
    • Weekly vendor meetings were not mandatory, and attendance was too light
    • Service desk resources at the vendor lacked expertise to help solve issues quickly
  • Under utilization of the available features and functionality – continued manual and redundant entries
    • Mobile app not activated
    • No rollout of employee self-service or manager self-service capabilities
    • Shadow spreadsheets being maintained while not using the reporting tool
    • Mass change tool not being used – one-by-one entries continue
  • Lack of HRIS oversight
    • No test instance was acquired
    • System security and access unmonitored


Sikich prepared a structured report categorized by workstream/discipline, outlining the results of the review and analysis. A detailed spreadsheet was provided, as well, which included issues identified, an explanation of the problem, root cause analysis, a recommendation to resolve and level of importance. This deliverable served as a checklist for the client to track progress in each area.

Sikich also provided documented guidance relating to the proposed next phases of the HCM solution optimization to allow continued progress without undue risk or rework. This provided needed justification to the client in terms of added budgetary resources (such as investment in a test environment) to help accomplish the client goals.


The financial services organization was able to address and resolve several immediate issues and establish a project structure to start work on the recommended priorities and enhancements. Sikich was engaged for continued work in key areas and ongoing payroll support, including assistance in the W2 mapping effort in time for year-end. A new approach to stronger vendor management has proved to be successful, as well.

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