6 Things Successful HR Software Implementations Have in Common

Keys to HR software implementationDid you know that only one in every three software project implementations are successful? A study by the Standish Group found that just 29% of all IT projects are finished on time, under budget, and with satisfactory results. That’s a daunting statistic, but the good news is that successful projects usually share several common practices. With these success indicators as part of their knowledge base, HR leaders can position themselves strategically to keep change management efforts on track. 

It may come as a surprise that most software implementation challenges aren’t technological problems. In fact, one study found that technical problems were cited as the cause of project failure only 3% of the time. More than half of project failures, by contrast, hinged on project management issues.

That means that you can vastly increase your odds of a successful implementation by following project management best practices. Let’s take a look six common things successful managers do to keep their projects on track.

1. Establish Executive Support

Garnering support from executives is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a successful implementation. That’s true for a couple of reasons. With senior stakeholders onboard, you won’t have to fight for resources or budget. Additionally, emotional investment in the project on the part of executives sets expectations for the entire team and encourages cross-organizational collaboration.

2. Define Business Objectives

Interestingly, the Standish Group found that generalized goals are more strongly associated with successful projects than highly specific goals. One reason for the finding is that extremely precise goals assume you know all the contingencies in advance, and they don’t give much room to adjust the course of the project. That’s why the flexibility of an agile process framework usually secures a better outcome. If unexpected hurdles arise (as they usually do), generalized objectives combined with agile processes give you the flexibility to pivot and keep moving forward rather than having to scrap the plan and start over. On the flip side, of course, you don’t want nebulous objectives that fail to define a target outcome at all.

3. Manage Expectations

What do you expect from each team member in terms of contribution and collaboration? Setting the right expectations at the beginning of the project and then following through with clear communications helps keep everyone on board and ensure that all team members pull their own weight.

4. Document Processes and Policies

Process documentation should start long before your implementation launch. Undocumented processes make it extremely difficult to develop an accurate requirements list. How do you know if the software meets all of your needs when you have no written procedures for onboarding, benefits administration, or performance management? It’s an essential part of identifying and refining your requirements, and it will make implementation that much easier once you have purchased new software.

5. Foster Collaboration

Encouraging team members to work together toward the goal of implementing a new software platform contributes significantly to the project’s chances of success. Project managers can encourage team participation by soliciting user feedback, practicing intentional communication, and responding to concerns about how the software will change current processes. It’s also important to make sure employees are ready for the software rollout by empowering them with knowledge and training.

6. Remain Available to Address Challenges

Don’t just launch a new software platform and then disappear. Managers and IT staff should remain available to answer questions, offer support, and address problems that may arise. Many software projects aren’t as successful as they could be because team members don’t like the new system or won’t use it. You can mitigate some of that frustration by providing ongoing training and support, creating a fun learning environment (for example, gamifying the training program), and responding quickly to employee concerns.   

Successful change management doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does have to be intentional. By addressing employee concerns on the front end, offering sufficient training, and establishing frequent, informative communication, you can boost your chances of a successful implementation.   

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