Project Management Case Study:
Human Resources Software Package Implementation
Industry: Financial Services – Human Resources Department, New York City
Problem: The client needed to convert their payroll and benefits data from an Excel spreadsheet into a purchased HR software package and come up to speed on how to best utilize all 5 modules of functionality in the new system.
The client started out with a very small staff so, to curb expenses, they decided to manage their Human Resource needs on an Excel spreadsheet. It was a serviceable solution for a while but as they grew, it became predictably problematic. At the very least, data entry was too prone to error, the reporting was limited, and the platform was too cumbersome to scale along with their growth so, they bought a package.
The CIO, who was a colleague from one of my former contractual engagements, invited me to manage the implementation. He knew that I had never worked on a Human Resources project before, nor did I have any experience with the software package they chose but he trusted in my ability to do the job.
The project started out with a detailed discovery period with both the client and the vendor. The highlights from the client side involved:
- clarifying why they chose that particular system
- prioritizing the functionality that was most important among the 5 modules
- how they intended to use the system
- who would be involved in the setup, testing and verification steps
- how decisions would be made
- who would participate on the project team
- how much time would the team devote to the project outside of their daily work
- how the team would communicate
- the target dates they envision
- and much more
From the third-party vendor side we covered the:
- overview of the software
- what’s involved in setting it up
- how to convert existing data
- what are the checks and balances
- how to test it and what help is provided
- how the vendor’s representative works with their clients (time on-site, availability for answering questions, trouble shooting, etc)
- what to watch out for
- typical implementation timeframe per module
- vendor training
- and again, much more
All of the information gathered during discovery was compiled into a project plan. The team participated in the assignment of tasks and negotiated the target dates. Once the plan was in final form and sign-off was received, we began the implementation process.
This project underscored why it’s so important to have a Project Manager whose sole responsibility is to:
- focus on the plan versus actual
- keep the tasks on track
- raise issues to the right resource for resolution
- keep management apprised of the project status and budget
- deal with vendor issues as they arise
- try to anticipate issues and find solutions before they become a major problem
- ensure facilities are properly arranged to accommodate specific project events
- keep the project team moving forward positively and
- drive the process forward to successful completion.
Projects like this can’t possibly be done on time and within budget by someone who already has a full plate of daily HR duties.
In my experience, with this and several other vendor related projects, I can attest that there are almost always gaps between what the vendor’s sales team presents and what the vendor’s implementation team can deliver. In addition, there are frequently differences between what the client thought they heard in the vendor’s presentation and what the vendor really said. And, there is almost always a disparity between the time, effort and attention the vendor is willing to dedicate to the project and what the client thinks they deserve for the price they paid. All of those things show up as issues to be resolved as the modules roll out which is another excellent reason to have someone who is focused specifically on the project.
It took nearly a year to implement all 5 modules and there were a lot of ups and downs during the process but the client achieved their goal of having a fully-implemented and fully-functional HR system. Their data was stable, they could produce the robust reporting they needed to be more strategic, their employees were more engaged in managing their own benefits and their productivity as a department skyrocketed.
If you and your colleagues need help with implementing a software package that will give your staff the tools they need to perform optimally, please do contact YourProjectPlanner.com. With the click of a button, you can book a free appointment directly on my calendar where you and I will talk about the project you have in mind.
See you then.