You’ve spent the better part of the past year finishing Phase 1 of your HRIS implementation, only to discover that you already hate it!
You can’t tell your boss or project sponsors because you have been the one defending it. You are the one who built the business case and chased approvals for years. You built the team, created the requirements document, hired a consultant and led a comprehensive vendor evaluation. As the program manager, you have pushed your team to deliver Phase 1 on time, on scope and on budget. You look back over the past 24 months and wonder how you got here when it all started out so well…
Let’s Start at the Beginning
After years of pleading, you finally got approval for the project. You had been keeping your eyes open, scanned the landscape of emerging technology and set your sights on a cutting-edge solution that would reduce risk, streamline processes, automate and deliver a scalable solution that would serve your needs for years.
When the new CHRO showed up, you were ready. You shared all the dirty laundry sitting in the cloud. You showed her the report output data and demonstrated how the data did not tell a story. Between data errors, missing data and meaningless data, she got the message. You received formal approval to move forward with your proposal. The next step was to get to work gathering business requirements through discussions with business leaders, HR, Finance and IT. You listened to their complaints, painted an irresistible picture in their minds and proceeded to dream big together.
From a detailed needs assessment, you created a business case. Your campaign gained momentum, and you started to believe that you could get the funding and approval to make a change.
You developed a cost benefit analysis, capital budget, resource plan, timeline and implementation budget. You researched alternatives, including the Gartner Magic Quadrant, to help build your case. Once this was complete, you identified executive sponsors for your project and developed the presentation. Your project and budget were approved.
Moving quickly, you assembled the team, used a consultant to run the vendor evaluation process and build the evaluation scorecard. At the conclusion of the demos, the consulting firm tallied the result. With one exception, the selection was unanimous.
Budgets were approved, contracts were signed and the implementation was off and running. You set a governance model and executive meeting cadence.
What followed was two years of intense effort. You identified holes and flaws on the team; both internal and external resources, as follows:
- The architecture session was dominated by the vendor team and was rushed
- There were information voids in the areas of business strategy and organizational design
- HR colleagues lost interest, and support waned from some areas
- The process improvement requirements overwhelmed the project team
- Change management fell short
- Reporting was not addressed until a month before going live
- Integrations were late, failed and abandoned in favor of old manual entry
- Test plans were incomplete, and testing was cut short
As you considered next steps:
- You assured yourself the implementation was rigorous
- Your sponsors did not challenge your decisions along the way
- Your project team worked long days and sometimes long nights
- You had a strong relationship with your consultants
- The vendor seemed engaged
- The project was on budget
- Phase 1 was completed on time
- You delivered the full Phase 1 scope requirements
There was agreement to go live with Phase 1 and begin the implementation of Phase 2.
But now you are asking:
- Where did all this criticism come from?
- How did so many reports get missed?
- Why are the integrations rejecting?
- How can the data be wrong?
- Who needs compensation information from five years ago?
- Where did the team go?
- Why didn’t the consultants tell me to build a stabilization plan?
- How will we get people trained on how to maintain and manage this system?
- Where is the simplicity and self-service the vendor promised?
- How can the project be overbudget?
Why do I hate this solution, and how do we fix it?
Time for a Postmortem
It’s time to take a major step back to see how we got to this point. An objective review can uncover how, when and where the project got off track and how to get it back on track quickly.
Topics for review:
- Gap between promise and product. What drove the selection of the vendors on the short list for the RFP? In structuring, the vendor demos were scripts prepared for the vendor. Who/how were the demonstration meetings managed?
- Ties from business strategy to project. Do you still have a clear business strategy guiding the organization that is reviewed and updated regularly? Confirm that the project and the strategy are still aligned. How have internal and external market changes been absorbed into the strategy? Can you articulate how the project continues to support the business strategy over the next five years?
- Business requirements/prioritization. Is the alignment still on target or have changes in the business triggered a need to realign and reprioritize? Have you updated the core requirements when a significant business change surfaces?
- Roles and responsibilities. Has the vendor delivered on their contractual agreements? Are your decision makers still in place and aligned with the project outcomes? Are there any lingering disputes on the team or within the business?
- Governance model. Is there a process to address open items and Phase 2 planning?
- Executive sponsors – allies or enablers? How would your sponsors rate the results and the management of the project?
- Just say ‘no.’ What are the consequences of saying ‘no’ along the way?
- Team composition. Do you have critical areas covered for ongoing support and for the next phase of the project? Are team members burnt out or do they remain committed? Is it a cohesive team? Is there an expectation of key team members rolling back into their day jobs? How will the holes be filled?
- Vendor resources. Is the vendor assigning the right resources or have you been training the vendor’s resources?
- Process redesign. Is the solution still bogged down by the need to complete process redesign work? What level of push back is the project team getting? Was there an expectation that the new application would fix the process issues?
- Relationship building. Did the project result in stronger relationships? What cracks became apparent, and what work needs to be done to turn them around? Are there new champions who can be leveraged to strengthen support?
- Testing. Did you miss issues?
- Change management. Do you need more? Have you received buy-in from all key stakeholders? Who can you leverage to overcome any remaining resistance?
- Budget management. What is the status of the actuals against the budget?
- Scope creep. Is there incomplete work that needs to be addressed because of scope creep?
Where Do We Go From Here?
Our Human Capital Management and Payroll consultants at Sikich are here to jump in to get your project back on track and keep it there.
We have broad and deep experience getting projects off on the right start, keeping them on track and getting you to the finish line on budget, on time and on scope. We provide continuous, informal assessments of the project status and lead a mid-project review to confirm that your project is aligned to meet your organizational goals. Contact us today!