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Successful HR Technology Transformations Begin Well Before Implementation

SHRM 2015By Jayson Saba,VP of Strategy and Industry Relations at Ceridian.

As usual, Ceridian once again took over #SHRM15 last week. Lines of HR practitioners and executives flocked to see Dayforce in action, and get pampered with a makeover and/or a shoeshine. The exhibition floor was dotted with hundreds of providers from human capital management (HCM) technology vendors to shoe providers (Yes – I noticed at least 2). Once again, more than three quarters of the technology providers are promoting cloud/SaaS offerings in all flavors from best of breed talent management solutions to complete end-to-end HCM suites. And that’s for a good reason. Research and market traction are clear indicators that HR executives have bought into the value of SaaS applications to their company.

One of these executives is Tom Cielak, Director of HR Operations, of ACCO Brands – a North American based manufacturer with ~3500 employees. Tom and our CHRO, Sara Hill, shared stories of their HR departments’ transformation by implementing Ceridian’s cloud-based application Dayforce HCM. The session focused on keys to a successful implementation and lessons learned during the journey to a modern HCM system.

Preparedness is Key

During this session, Tom stressed the preparation of his team, starting with organizational readiness. The main task in this phase is stakeholder communication. Specifically, gaining buy-in from internal stakeholders who will be involved in the implementation, and getting employees excited about the enterprise-wide system. Tom also stressed the importance of identifying resources and skills, defining stakeholder roles, and aligning them based on competency. Documentation of processes across the department is necessary before implementation kicks off, and assigning a dedicated project management BEFORE rolling up the sleeves was also critical to success.

Sara agreed and added that understanding the timeline and how it fits within normal processes – e.g. open enrollment, year-end – is crucial. This is consistent across the industry where we see most go-lives happening on January 1 or in the beginning of the quarter, especially when Payroll is in scope.

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Don’t Underestimate Change Management

Communication is also critical during implementation, right up to go-live, and even afterwards. Both Tom and Sara stressed celebrating the transformation with stakeholder recognition, giving employees t-shirts, conducting training classes with pizza, and other activities that create a brand for the transformation went a long way in helping a smooth transition. Tom specifically mentioned joining a customer advocacy community to learn ideas and best practices that he was able to implement at ACCO for effective change management. Sara added that communicating milestones to all employees during the implementation was an integral part of Ceridian’s roll-out strategy. Both Tom and Sara emphasized that user acceptance testing before go-live was absolutely critical for both companies.

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My Three Takeaways

There were three things that resonated with me.  First, a lot of work needs to be done before implementation kicks off.  Taking advantage of the vendor’s experience in implementing thousands of peer companies can be a huge tool as a company readies itself for implementation. Secondly, networking with peers who have been there and have done that will pay huge dividend pre, during and post implementation.  Lastly, it’s important to celebrate successes and highlight how this HCM technology transformations will make everyone’s work life better.

Jayson Saba

Jayson Saba is VP of Strategy and Industry Relations at Ceridian. Prior to Ceridian, Jayson was an analyst at Aberdeen Group’s Human Capital Management practice.  As the lead analyst for Core HR, Workforce Management, and Outsourcing, Jayson published over 100 research papers and reports about technology and best practices.  Jayson is a frequent contributor to industry and trade magazines including HR Executive, PayTech, HROToday, Workforce Management, Talent Management, CIO and The Economist. He regularly presents at HR conferences and trade shows.  Follow him on Twitter @JaysonSaba. 

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