Change management is often critical to the success of a project, and an HRMS implementation is no different. Where do you start? There are many templates and models available that provide a list of necessary steps for a successful change management plan. Your plan will help you identify risks and prepare your organization for the change they will experience as you implement and roll out a new HR system.
As the project leader or a member of the project team, your involvement likely began long before communication about the project did. This gave you time to adjust and get excited about the impending change and how it might affect your role. As communications begin to roll out to employees, there will likely be a mixed reaction. Just as you had time to adjust to the upcoming change, employees will also need this time.
Some employees will welcome the change because the current process or application may be inefficient or difficult to use. Others may prefer to stay with the status quo. You may also have new employees who haven't worked with the existing system for very long, and are less worried about how the new system will impact their day-to-day work.
There are a few change management strategies that can ensure a successful HRMS implementation:
- Communication: This is one of the most important considerations when embarking on a new project. You need to tell employees and all stakeholders affected by the change why you are doing it, how it will impact them and why they should care. In the absence of honest communication, rumors and assumptions will appear. These may or may not resemble reality, but people will discuss them and likely believe them until you tell them otherwise. If the change will affect employees, explain to them early in the project how it will affect their roles and what the company is planning to do with them. Will they get a new role? Will their position be eliminated?
Also, remember that the employees who implemented the current system may still work for the company. Avoid pointing out all the flaws with the current HRMS, and focus on the benefits of the new one. You want these stakeholders to embrace the new system rather than have them feel disappointed or angry that the system they worked on is being replaced.
When communicating your message, ensure you use multiple communication channels because people have different learning styles. Use email, posters, your intranet, all-staff meetings and every opportunity to get the correct message out in a positive way.
Communicate early and often and do not stop once the HRMS goes live. You need to continue selling the benefits of the new system to your stakeholders so that it becomes a normal part of their work routine.
- Training: Like communication, training is one of the most important change management strategies for ensuring a successful rollout. Develop a plan outlining how you intend to train existing and new employees, and provide multiple training options to ensure your employees are ready to use the HRMS and can refer to training material when needed. This may include in-person sessions, e-learning courses, documentation and one-page work instructions to perform specific tasks. In addition, employees may have access to the online help and other trainings supplied by the vendor which can help employees learn how to use the new system.
In-person training is ideal before and shortly after the rollout so that you can not only train employees, but also include information about the benefits of the new system and why the organization decided to acquire and implement a new HRMS. Depending on the complexity of the system or your internal processes, you may want to continue holding in-person training sessions for new hires going forward as well.
- Quick wins: As much as possible, you want to have quick wins you can share with employees and stakeholders. This will reinforce the benefits of the new HRMS and help alleviate some of the anxiety associated with change. This may be in the form of a pilot project, completing a phase of the project or successfully hitting an important milestone.
- Executive support: Executive support is one of the most effective change management strategies. It reinforces the importance of the project to the organization and provides the project team with the backing it needs to move people from current state to future state. Messaging is significantly more powerful when you have the backing of the CEO and other executives, especially when you are adding a new process that might not be welcome to employees, such as the introduction of timesheets.
- Change management plan: Most importantly, take the time to develop a change management plan. Find a template or model that you like and use it. A change management plan will help you consider multiple points that might not have been obvious before you started writing your plan. With the change management plan, you will be able to identify multiple areas of concern and develop mitigation plans should they arise. And in the event unexpected issues arise, you will have a process outlining how to handle them.
Change is often hard for people, and the greater the impact it will have on them, the more they may resist. Saying it will be OK or better once the new HRMS is implemented will not alleviate the concern of employees. Instead, focus on change management strategies that can reduce any fears employees may have about the project.