So you’ve identified a need for change in your technology, found your new supplier, had your business case approved and you’re ready to implement it. It may feel like the hard work is done, but systems implementation projects can be a tough exercise to survive as they can have a major impact on your organisation as a whole. In most cases, resources are limited to the absolute minimum and employees involved in the implementation need to handle their regular tasks alongside the new project. So in the face of these challenges, what can you do to minimise the disruption on your business?
Begin planning early
First of all, it’s important not to underestimate the time needed. If you have a ‘go-live’ date in mind, you should begin planning for this between 9-18 months in advance. Depending on the system you’re implementing, your project could impact every employee across the business and ensuring this runs smoothly takes time.
Identify who your stakeholders are and involve them from the start. Listen to any concerns and ensure they are addressed in your strategic plan. This may create a drain on resources from daily operations, but for long-lasting, solid results you need to ensure everyone is on board with the plans. Define your requirements clearly and provide plans to everyone involved. Don’t forget to agree who is doing what in the project and what your expectations are.
Lastly, bear in mind that if your project has many stakeholders, there may be some resistance – especially if the new system is a big change – is there frustration among employees about the current systems? Or is this system change one among many that could potentially complicate their day to day jobs during implementation? The early planning stage is the time to assess the impact the new system could have, what the reaction is likely to be and how you’ll handle it.
Communicate with your stakeholders
Keeping all concerned parties informed is integral to ensuring a smooth implementation. It will help to determine a communication plan that details:
- What you’re communicating
- To whom and
- When you’re telling them.
This can be especially challenging for global organisations and you may need to consider different engagement and training tools to ensure everyone is up to speed. These tools could end up adding cost to your project budget so be sure to plan your communications up front!
Also, ensure to involve interested parties in the testing phase - ask for opinions and feedback from the team and make sure you pick up the concerns and pass them on to your supplier or IT team - it might turn out later that a tiny comment becomes a long-term headache so it’s better to take note of each issue as it arises regardless of how seemingly unimportant it is.
Although your IT team are vitally important to the implementation of new technology, remember they won’t be the ones using it afterwards. Make sure you take a hands-on approach and guide the process. Think of it like building a new house – visit it every day and check that it’s progressing according to your plans. If you fail to do so, you could be faced with (expensive) delays.
Be proactive and explore early mock-ups of the system. When the first demo is ready, get your hands on the system as early as possible and check it out yourself – many IT projects are driven as fairly theoretical exercises for HR specialists until late in the process so the earlier you can see the system the better.
Test your system thoroughly
Testing and ironing out any problems will be integral to a smooth implementation. Once the development is well ahead, start planning for your test session. You should design test scenarios that are both positive and negative. Although we all endeavour not to make mistakes, the system should be tested for all eventualities and not just for ideal situations, you need to understand what happens when someone makes an error –for instance, if you make a typo, put the comma in the wrong place or use the wrong date – can it be corrected afterwards?
And finally, keep in mind that when you receive your system from the supplier, you’ll most likely receive a system empty of data, so remember to also plan for another testing period after the data transfer.
NES and Global Mobility Support
Understanding the assignment management software out there can be challenging – if you’re looking for a new solution and want to ensure a successful implementation our dedicated Global Mobility experts can support you.
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