“I’m looking for a vendor partner to implement ____________ Compensation module. If you have worked with one and have a recommendation or any other implementation advice, please reply or message me.”
I pulled the above post from LinkedIn, and it serves as an excellent real-world example for this piece.
There are certain things you should be able to learn about a solution before you sign a contract that are excellent predictors of realities you can expect AFTER you sign. Learning to leverage predictable information before money is spent and precious time is wasted should be a priority among HR professionals. Experience will help you focus on key requirements you know you need. But having awareness can shine light on some truths you may not be focused on.
Process tool selection: An eye toward the future
I should first point out that there is a difference in the tools you use for periodic processes vs. core systems of record. Core systems of record, such as your primary HR system, should be expected to have longer implementation timelines and larger teams. You are often making critical decisions about what data you will capture, where this data will come from, how to validate it, and how to ultimately load or interface it. Not to mention, as a core system, there are integration needs to address connectivity to other systems as well as new functionality to implement and so forth. Core system implementation is NOT repeated every year. For the most part, it’s “one and done”.
Process tools tend to have an annual configuration which can be similar in effort to the original implementation. Processes are much more prone to variation than core day to day transactional activities.
When evaluating process tools, you should understand the anticipated implementation effort to provide clairvoyance on the true total cost you will incur. Receiving insight to the future isn’t nearly as important as properly acting on it. Like the LinkedIn post above, you could be seeking assistance not only on the initial implementation but each year going forward. Is your compensation process static? Have you made adjustments to the actions, rules, or incentive plans in the past few years? The decision to go with a cumbersome solution is essentially agreeing to pay a cost each year to use the tool above and beyond the annual license fee. Will you always have a little extra in your budget to fund adjustments to your configuration or changes to the process? Look at the size and makeup of the implementation team. Consider the implementation time being required. Calculate the cost based on your company’s FTE rate on internal staff. How much should you budget to change the system next year?
Good predictions go beyond the costs. They can see how other events will play out as well.
It is not always about the money. I once had a conversation with an HR VP at a company in the financial services industry. Upcoming FLSA changes would have a significant impact on them. As a result, resources were all tied up working on this important business issue. Unfortunately, they possessed a compensation module that was cumbersome to configure. Even though they had used this software for several years, familiarity was no help here. Configuring the software still required significant technical and HR resources. For the source’s privacy I will just call him “Mr. X”. Mr. X had the additional challenge that there were business changes needed on their compensation process; things the business wanted to do differently this year. The final decision was to forgo the business changes for the annual compensation process. In other words, the software was now dictating the business process.
In this case, Mr. X did not get the process he wanted that year due to the expenditure of resources on a pending FLSA change that ultimately did not happen. You should be able to predict that your resources can be pulled out from under you in an evolving business climate. If you already know it takes all you have just to set up your process tools, the risk of this happening is predictable. Even more so if you rely on resources outside of your own department. A more agile system less dependent on outside resources would have eliminated this risk.
Consider the resource requirements of the solutions you use and the possibility you may not always have access to the same resource level you were blessed with during the implementation phase. Then figure out how to succeed if no additional resources were available. Knowing your future is one thing; doing something about it is another.
So, what can you do?
Insist on reviewing and understanding the implementation timeline, internal resources outside of HR, and even the likelihood you will need to hire outside consultants. Understanding the importance of this early can give great insight into the future you will face. Then address the problem by either increasing the staff level to address the added work you can expect or find a solution that is more frugal with the resources you have.
At Dartican, we have invested in addressing the complexities of inflexible and cumbersome configurations. The prediction our clients count on each year is a bright future without spending a fortune. Anticipating the future is a crucial part of successful process management.
Care to make some predictions? Contact us for a demo and see why the future is so bright when the selection is right. We can show you a true game changer.