Posted by Randy Stenberg, HCM Consultant at Hula Partners
Now that your company has decided to implement Employee Central, it is time to prep for your implementation. Based on my personal experiences, here are 5 areas to consider focusing on during your project preparation. Focusing on these will help to smooth out your Employee Central journey.
1. Get ready, get set; I didn’t say get comfortable.
The journey you are about to embark on takes longer and will be considerably more difficult than you first considered. Being prepared and flexible is key to your success.
Some may believe that an EC implementation is easy. A sales person’s pitch may have swayed you, or the notion of no hardware to set up, and no software to install; Easy Street, right? Beware! Don’t fall into that trap. Sure, some aspects of EC configuration are simple as compare to SAP on-premise. However, the underlying business processes remain the same. These processes can be overly complex due to piling on additional requirements over the years enabled by a customizable on-premise system. Untangling and simplifying these processes can be enticing and can certainly provide benefit but be aware of the cost; process redesign and optimization have costs in terms of project resources and project timeline. Plan accordingly and make sure the ROI will justify the additional demands on your project’s resources.
2. Project Management Office (PMO) is very important.
Completing a proper project planning exercise is key. For example, include a detailed project plan. Your resources should be identified and freed up to work as appropriate, as soon as possible. This plan should set the expectations for your resources and should be realistic based on budget and timeline with built-in contingencies as a buffer.
Tip #1: Be certain that your partner resources are experienced and certified so that they are properly trained for your project. If not, this could affect your timeline and plan as a whole.
Tip #2: Include plenty of contingency into the project plan – you will use it.
Governance and controls are important pieces of PMO. This includes handling scope creep. Ding ding ding! This is one of the biggest areas that can lead to a project getting off the rails. Based on my experience, scope is something that must be managed very closely and have a clearly defined escalation path determined early on during the project so that during a crisis everyone knows what to do with new items. These items can include defects, missed requirements, and gaps in processes. Clients and partners must realize that scope creep is something that should be recognized, reported and avoided.
Your implementation partner should provide you with a project manager that is 100% dedicated to your project. This may add some cost; think of it as relatively cheap insurance. As the client, you should make sure that your internal project manager is at least 50% focused on the implementation. Your PM is critical in navigating through company bureaucracies and working with internal audit departments as needed.
3. IT is critical.
Make sure key IT resources are fully engaged stakeholders on the project. From what I have seen, this is sometimes not the case. IT is generally an afterthought, but should be an equal party to the project.
4. Change management is important throughout the entire project and after go-live.
Consider bringing on Change Management experts. Your EC partner is probably not an expert in this field, so consider someone or a team that is focused on just this.
Your communication should have consistent cadence and message to the stakeholder community during the project and after go-live. As for training, it is best to have both online and in-person classes, as well as quick reference guides for continued learning.
5. Do NOT underestimate testing. You will always need more time, so build in contingency.
Your implementation partner should manage the initial test phases such as integration testing, end-to-end process testing and payroll parallel if required. As the project progresses through the test phases expect your participation to scale up. You should assume complete responsibility for UAT (User Acceptance Test). This is your chance to confirm that the application is working as per your business requirements. You will most likely need some help since you are not certified professionals, as your consultants should be, in using the system. You may find it difficult to write test scripts from scratch so ask your partner to provide a library of scripts that you can pick from and customize as needed.
Tip #3: UAT is the time where gaps in processes, defects, and new requirements may surface. Make sure that you handle these swiftly per your defined PMO process so as not to derail your project.
Preparing for a project can be a daunting task. But, if you take these considerations in to your planning, you will have a much easier and smoother implementation.
If you have any further questions or would like to discuss further, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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