Tag Archives: HR

Implementing HR Technology – The Team & Change Management Process


With the advancement in HR technology, it is not surprising that organisations are now slowly (but surely) investing in the new HR applications available in the market or upgrading their legacy systems into cloud computing. New set of challenges emerge for managers from: which software and vendors to shortlist and select, to implementation, who are to be part of the project team, to managing the change journey as well as ensuring a return of investment.

Being in the field as both an internal and external HR consultant, and the fortune of implementing several different technology into organisations, I had my fair share of the good and bad experience as well as learning from stories of other consultants in the industry. Different organisations go about it differently. Some more successfully than others. Some “horror” stories may also ring true as common problems, for example misalignment of strategies, selecting the wrong solution, a range of different systems in the organisation that don’t integrate well with each other, bad vendor experience (or if you’re from the other side, bad client experience), incompetent or wrong people selected as part of the project team, not managing the change process, lack of management support, lack of resources, etc., the list goes on for all things wrong.

As a consultant, there is only so much that are within our control. We may also be called upon at different stages of the project and our roles in the project could vary too. For the purpose of this article which is further inspired by a recent “horror” story I heard, I will only focus on a couple of key areas that we are likely to have some influence in: The Project Team and The Change Management Process.

The Team

  • Clear roles and responsibilities of each member – Internal employees can sometimes be assigned into projects other than their usual job in their organisation (this normal execution of standard functional operations within an organization is usually called “business as usual (BAU) in projects). Whether you are the project lead or one of the team members or from the vendor team, it is crucial that you and each of your project team members understand your own respective role and responsibilities in the project. Set clear expectations about the nature and scope of their involvement. This will also prevent frustration, pushing away responsibilities and blame, especially when the going gets tough.
  • Cross-functional team – Even when implementing a new or upgraded HR system, it will be great if members comes from different functional group. For instance, it will be great if HR, IT and Finance are represented as these functions are usually impacted in the implementation of HR Technology. IT needs to advise on any IT infrastructure and security issues. Finance can provide input on the key data and measures that management are concern about. In fact, if the HR in the organisation is new to analytics, Finance can advise HR to adopt and use human capital metrics and put numbers to people. If there are a few existing systems that data need to be extracted from or will be impacted, these system owners should also be involved.
  • Competent in respective role – Each team member should be competent in their role. It is also essential that the Project Manager (PM) understands the project, its deliverables and most importantly is competent in project management too (it never fails to amaze me that there are PM who are clueless – the story that I was “inspired” by is of a big superannuation organisation that had just threaten to can a $1million contract as the vendor PM is hopeless. I will leave it as that because that, is another story all together).
  • Purpose of the team and project – Just like managing any teams, it is important to get the team to work well together and to manage the team dynamics. Understanding the purpose and benefits of the team and project are important too.


changeChange Management Process

As HR professionals, we may be more familiar with the people and communication approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations to a desired future state from planning the change to managing the change and to reinforcing the change. We also need to be familiar with the IT Change Management process of controlling and managing requests to effect changes to any aspect of IT services.

People & Communications

  • Stakeholder Analysis – As part of planning and preparation, this will help assess the attitudes of the stakeholders regarding the potential changes with the introduction / upgrading of the HR system
  • Change Impact Analysis – This helps to identify the potential consequences of the change, or estimate what needs to be modified to accomplish the change.
  • Communications Plan – This is important to identify who needs what information when as well as the most effective communication method(s) for it. It will also be good to include who is responsible for the message and who is to deliver it. By understanding the purpose and benefits project, you will also be able to reinforce these messages to the right people.
  • Sponsorship – Strong management support and sponsorship is required to provide the authority and credibility needed for a change to be successful.
  • Training Plan – Deliver training programs that develop skills that is needed to support “the new way”. This can be set up for the different groups of users of the new HR system which can include the new / revised processes.
  • Performance Support Aids and materials – Develop performance support materials that will help employees use the new HR system. This can be FAQs, job aids, etc.
  • Resistance management – Resistance is a natural and common reaction. Expect and plan for resistance and identify the steps you can take to build buy-in and commitment like getting people involved, understanding the impact and the benefits. With your understanding of the project, you can also include your success measures and have a feedback system in place to monitor your success and resistance levels.

IT Change Management Process

  • Enforce change process – Ensure there is a centralised change and approval process and that the process from raising to closing changes are followed.
  • Log all change requests – All requests raised should be recorded, accessed and evaluated.
  • Thoroughly test all changes – As changes to the system are planned and scheduled, it is also important that any changes to the system are tested. It is especially important to include User Acceptance Testing (UAT) as it is one sure way to reduce or eliminate change requests, and drastically reduce project costs. The goal of UAT is to assess if the system can support day-to-day business and user scenarios and ensure the system is sufficient and correct for business usage.
  • Communication and dissemination – Ensure timely change communication and dissemination

As consultants, we may be called upon at different stages of the HR Technology project. There are plenty of opportunities at various stages in which you can influence and contribute. This article only focuses on two such areas as I find that the project team and the change management process are key gaps at projects and among our HR profession. Good luck!

Thinking strategically at every step


Using strategic thinking throughout the training cycle

Working strategically is not just about setting strategy at the executive level of the organisation. It is about how you approach every aspect of your work. For a start, think of yourself as a business professional first, and only then as a professional with a human resource development specialty. See the world through that frame.

You can apply a strategic mindset at every phase of the learning and development cycle, from receiving a request for training, through to the design of programs and initiatives, delivery and evaluation. The key is to keep the end in mind – how does what I am doing help the business?

Here’s how thinking strategically works in practice.

A. Request for training

You have just received an application/request for training. What do you usually do next? What can you do to ensure that you add value and impact the business? How often do you actually ask the manager making the request if the training is relevant to the job? How will it help to meet the job, department and/or organisational objective? Is it a real training issue or a process issue? Are there any other developmental activities that will enhance the learning?

Historically, learning professionals have often reacted to training requests by attempting to fulfil them as promptly as resources would allow. Instead, discover if training was really the right answer. Ask these questions:

  1. Do we have a problem?
  2. Is it a performance problem?
  3. How will we know when the problem is solved?
  4. What is the performance problem?
  5. Should we allocate resources to solve it?
  6. What are the possible causes of the problem?
  7. What evidence bears on each possibility?
  8. What are the probable causes?
  9. What general solution type is indicated?
  10. What are the alternate subclasses of solution?
  11. What are the costs, effects, and development times of each solution?
  12. What are the constraints?
  13. What are the overall goals?

By asking key questions, you will be able to identify if problems are worth solving, define the desired and actual states of performance, identify possible causes to an identified performance problem and determine if training and/or other activities are better suited to solve the performance issue. You are now applying a results-oriented mindset to achieve the results needed by the business.

B. Design of training programs and initiatives

Before you begin to design and develop the training programs, consider the following:

  1. How are training goals of the programs aligned with corporate goals?
  2. Who will receive training?
  3. What are the high-level training goals for each audience?
  4. What is the benefit of training for each audience?
  5. What factors are used to prioritize work?
  6. How will learning be designed, developed and delivered? How will training be designed for results?
  7. How often do these training programs need to be reviewed and updated?
  8. What resources are required to accomplish the plan, including headcount, services, hardware, software, budget, and so forth?
  9. How will return on investment be measured?
  10. What will be outsourced?
  11. What will be designed and developed in-house? Why?
  12. What will be purchased off-the-shelf? Are you purchasing libraries of courses?
  13. Combine individual and organisational development as by teaching people how to improve their teams and organisations, you can simultaneously improve individual skills and organisational results – the ultimate win-win!

Furthermore, due to economic needs, learning styles, demographics and new technologies, the new frontier is all about connecting, collaborating and learning in different ways, so what can you do to ensure that you and your organisation move into the new frontier? Ask the following:

  1. What is the future of learning in a techno-global world with multiple generations in the workforce?
  2. Will the approaches and techniques you are presently using to design and deliver learning still be relevant to the learning process in five years?
  3. What criteria are you using to ensure that new learning environments are robust and engaging and not just venues for the consumption of ideas?
  4. How do you ensure that technologies promote active learning and not passive consumption?
  5. With many technologies available for connecting individuals (Twitter, blog, email, texting), what are the ways to turn a connection from a list of names into an opportunity for collaborating and learning?
  6. How can you leverage social learning and informal learning in the workplace?
  7. What is the best use of technologies for facilitating and delivering learning assets?

C. Delivery of training programs

Here you should consider:

  • What is the best and most cost efficient mode of delivery given the resources available?
  • Are you introducing e-learning? Are you increasing self-paced instruction and decreasing instructor-led training?
  • What percentage of your training uses e-learning rather than traditional classroom instruction?
  • Is there a strategy for when to use e-learning rather than face-to-face instruction? What is the advantage of that delivery strategy?
  • What is the delivery strategy? Do you have dedicated instructors, outsourced instructors or managers/leaders as facilitators? What can you do to influence management to encourage more managers to be facilitators?

Organizations that effectively utilise leaders as facilitators can realise six key strategic benefits:

1. Helps drive business results

Implementing a leaders-as-teachers approach drives business and organizational results as it ensures strategic business alignment between senior business leaders and the programs and services provided by the learning function.

2. Stimulates the learning and development of employees and future leaders

Having a leaders-as-facilitators approach serves as a catalyst for the learning and development of the employees who participate as students in leader-led programs. This dynamic occurs in three ways: role modeling, creating a safe environment for feedback and building networks.

3. Improving the leadership and skillset of those who teach

Leaders-facilitators also learn more as they teach. They move out of their comfort zones. They deal with various employee-students with job challenges of different types, sizes and intensities that enable these leaders-facilitators to learn, grow, change and develop. Teaching, for many leaders, is a very significant job challenge and one that also helps them to see new viewpoints.

4. Strengthening organizational culture and communications

Another key strategic benefit to implement a leaders-as-teachers approach is that leader-teachers have the opportunity to strengthen their organization’s culture and communications. Culture transmission and communications through leader-teachers occurs in numerous ways including role modeling, communities of practice (CoP), social networks, continuous learning and communication flow across geographies, business divisions and functions.

5. Promoting positive business and organizational change

The fifth reason to implement a leaders-as-teachers approach is that it enables them to serve as catalysts for business and organizational change through their direct access to a wide range of learners. It is important for these leaders-facilitators to lead by example and walk the talk.

6. Reducing costs by leveraging top talent

Finally, the leaders-as-teachers approach drives numerous cost efficiencies by leveraging top talent. In addition to reducing costs by not engaging external facilitators, this will also be a form of retaining knowledge and expertise as well as retaining and managing talent within the organisation.

D. Evaluation of learning and performance outcomes

You should start thinking about this stage even before the participant attends the training. In fact, with the results-oriented approach, you should begin the preparation and planning for evaluation as part of your program planning and design stage. This includes what are the key measures / benchmarks; where and how data are collected, etc.

For a comprehensive measurement and evaluation process, you may wish to consider these six types of measures:

  1. Reaction, Satisfaction and planned action
  2. Learning
  3. Application and implementation
  4. Business impact
  5. Return on Investment (ROI)
  6. Intangible measures

What are the possible ways you are able to show a direct impact on learning within an organization? How can you demonstrate value and make connections and show that learning has an alignment with business results? You may wish to take into account:

5. Cut costs

Organisations exist to make profits and cut costs. Unless you are a training provider organisation, it is difficult for the learning function to directly make profits for the organisation. The next best thing we can do is to help reduce costs and / or avoid costs. Consider the various ways that this could be done without impacting the quality of the learning and developmental activities.

  • Cost reduction is the least complicated case to make because it is easy to demonstrate reduced travel, lodging and meal expenses. You also can calculate the value of opportunity cost, which is how much money the company loses by having an employee away from his / her job. Do you have a total training plan for the organisation? Do you have the required number of training places for the various training courses so that this information could be used to negotiate with external training providers or request for training budget? Are there sufficient resources to have these training designed, developed and delivered in-house or outsourced? Can these training be conducted internally or at an external venue? Provide the rationale for budget requests, such as new or updated facilities, hardware and software, consulting and contract work, course libraries, staffing and skill development activities. Explore new and less expensive methods of delivering learning, including e-learning, simulations and other online options. How can you evolve the learning process from one-time training events to continuous informal learning that happens anytime, anywhere, in a variety of formats?
  • The case for cost avoidance is a little harder to make because it contends that the training program will help the company avoid expenses, such as costs associated with re-work or legal fees. A common example is sexual harassment training and compliance training.
  • When making a case for increased profitability you must show a direct relationship between training and an increase in profits. For example, demonstrating that sales representatives who attend a training program sell more than those who did not attend the program. In another example, you may be able to show that employees on an assembly line can produce widgets faster and with fewer defects than those who did not receive training. The increased productivity of those employees leads to increased profitability. Again, as mentioned earlier, you will need to determine what and how data can be collected accurately.

At the end of the day

With a results-oriented mindset, we can approach our work differently and play a more strategic role in our organisation.

All in all, you need to find more effective and efficient ways to train employees as well as new ways of designing and delivering training. You need to consider leveraging existing best practices and benchmarks, create programs or situations where employees can learn from each other, link learning to the strategic goals of your company and you must be able to communicate the value of learning to your top management.

The trends that emerged and the lessons learned over these years will lead learning down an exciting and successful path for the future.

First published as a 2-part Article by same author:

“Thinking Strategically at Every Step – Part 1” in Training and Development in Australia, vol.36, no.6, October 2010, pp 12 – 13. Australian Institute of Training & Development (AITD)

“Thinking Strategically at Every Step – Part 2” in Training and Development in Australia, vol.37, no.6, December 2010, pp 12 – 13. Australian Institute of Training & Development (AITD)

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