Your project has tight deadlines, clients are waiting for results, and half of the team has suddenly gone on a 2-week vacation! And you agreed to it yourself. A nightmare for a manager? No, the harsh reality of our company two years ago.
This, along with a whole bunch of other big and small problems, was the daily norm of our company when I took on the role of HR Project Manager. The main goal of my position was to bring order and make all HR processes transparent, understandable, and, most importantly, manageable and predictable!
The global task sounded like this: choose a suitable human resources information system (HRIS) and implement it. In reality, there was a lot of work, stages, pitfalls, and unexpected consequences behind the scenes.
I want to share with you the most important experience I gained on this project. If you or your company are facing a similar task, my article will save you from mistakes and help you quickly figure out where to start and in what order to act.
1. Information Gathering and Analysis:
The first thing I started with was interviews with key stakeholders of the future HRIS. Here is our list of stakeholders:
– IT Director
– Head of Sales
– The entire recruitment department
All company employees will use the system. However, my task at this stage was to explore the key HR processes and identify any existing problems. Because the first stage involves basic detailing and formalization of the process, only when you are sure that it suits everyone who uses it can you automate it.
At this stage, we found that some processes were completely absent. For example, there was no unified policy for vacations. Each manager kept track in their own way, and there was no common calendar to check information on absences.
Another example of a “phantom” process was termination. The need to do it periodically arose, but no one knew how to do it correctly. How do we communicate and justify it? What documents are needed for termination? Who and when will make the final payment? These were basic questions that I had to come up with, describe, and get approved.
2. Setting Priorities:
In our company, there were many gaps and issues. At some point, I even felt overwhelmed and began to think that the task was impossible. Where to start, what to focus on? Is there even a system in the world that will cover all our needs?
I decided to approach the issue with a clear head. I compiled a list of “burning HR issues” and asked each manager to rate them from 1 to 10, where 1 is “I won’t even notice if this is missing in the company,” and 10 is “I can’t work properly without this right now.”
Then, I gathered everything into a single table and calculated the scores. Here’s what I got:
1. Speed of position closures (Recruitment)
4. Vacation management
These were the absolute leaders. These areas needed to be fixed as soon as possible and formed the basis of my comparative assessment of HRIS.
3. Process Description:
It is important to note that 2 out of 4 processes did not exist at all. Essentially, they were there (people were somehow trained after hiring and somehow dismissed), but there were no unified rules of the game.
Recruitment and vacations existed in some form, but since there were many questions about them, I decided to analyze them and create an optimal new working model that would address the most common gaps.
Why is it important to focus on theory and documentation at this moment? Because here you will understand the key requirements for HRIS. Thus, it will be easier for you to choose from a variety and reduce the risk of a choice error (when everyone has already bought, set up, and realized that a certain function is needed, but it’s either not there, or it’s too expensive).
4. HRIS Selection
After the previous stages, this one turned out to be simple and enjoyable. I simply compiled a list of must-haves for each category (our top 4) and checked them off during demonstrations of various HRIS.
At the time, we were studying and considering:
– Bamboo HR
– People Force
And a couple more, but I can’t recall their names. However, they dropped out of the running as they didn’t meet the top requirements on our list.
Ultimately, with a slight lead, People Force emerged as the winner. The balance between price, implementation complexity, user-friendly interface, and the required modules was optimal.
Important! At this stage, keep in mind not only your top-rated essential HR modules but also the next 3-4 areas. The system should be suitable for your future needs. For instance, we had plans to implement KPI and performance-based culture, and it would be odd to do this in a completely different system. So, I also evaluated the presence of such capabilities when comparing HRIS.
As for the payroll module, it wasn’t relevant for us at that time or in the next 3 years.
Finding a system that perfectly covers EVERYTHING is impossible. Theoretically, such tools exist in the market, but in practice, they tend to be too complex (and expensive) to implement, train users, and use in the long run. This might be feasible for large companies with extensive IT teams, but it wasn’t our case.
The only thing I want to say in this section is that the more detailed your processes are outlined in the previous stages, the faster and easier it will be to configure the system to fit your needs and ensure that it works and brings results, not suffering.
6. Training Key Users
It’s super important to create user-friendly materials — texts, videos, drawings, and diagrams. Yes, there are manuals from the developers, but they are dull and impersonal.
I created training materials based on examples and processes from OUR company. And it helped our employees get accustomed to the new tool.
Yes, even those who had many problems before HRIS had difficulty accepting it simply because it was NEW, and they needed to get involved, learn, and make an effort. It’s easy to stick to what you’re used to.
7. Implementation of the Test Group
I selected the most conscientious and motivated individuals — the recruiters! The initial operational experience was conducted with them. I identified setup errors, adjusted processes if I saw any issues, and conducted individual interviews with each one to understand the challenging aspects.
This preparation proved valuable when we later extended the HRIS to the entire company, comprising 260 people at that time.
8. Company-Wide Launch
Two important points to note here:
1. Be prepared; it will take time. Implement gradually. People dislike changes, even for the better. Exercise patience and systematically, step by step, guide them from their familiar actions into the new HRIS reality.
2. Involve marketers or become one yourself. “Sell” the idea of working in the new system rather than enforcing it. What does it offer to your colleagues? How does their life become better/easier with HRIS? Motivations vary among different teams. You need to identify and address the interests of each group.
For instance, we started the HRIS presentation by talking about the newly created knowledge base. The first article, inviting everyone to explore the system, had an intriguing title: “Want a Salary Increase? How to Achieve It?”
I also had separate discussions with each manager and team lead. I highlighted the benefits of their entire team using HRIS. Recalling their complaints and mistakes from the first stage, I demonstrated how everything would be different in the new system. With their support, I asked them to remind and promote the use of HRIS within their teams.
Results after 1 year:
– Reduced the number of concurrently open positions by 60% (Recruitment)
– Increased the speed of position closures by 50% (Recruitment)
– Halved the turnover rate within the first 3 months (Onboarding)
– Reduced overall turnover by 15% (Internal HR)
– Improved ratings on major job platforms (Offboarding + HR Brand)
Plus, a whole list of non-digitized but crucial achievements:
– Clear and transparent organizational chart
– Quick access to colleagues for any question, even in different time zones and teams one hasn’t worked with before (we operate fully remotely and decentralized – spanning 60 countries and all time zones)
– Employees are aware of basic rules and policies. If forgotten, there’s one convenient place to easily find everything.
After another year, we transitioned to creating a performance-based culture. Bringing order to basic processes and implementing HRIS provided us with the opportunity to move forward and reach a new level of team management.
Skills that will be useful for you or anyone that you may involve in this significant and interesting task:
Change management, Project management, Psychology, Analytical skills, Strategic thinking, Basics of psychology, Needs assessment, Benefit presentation, Patience, and optimism.
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