HR Digitisation – Mantra for Success

Tausifur Rahman | May 28, 2019

Many of the medium and small enterprises are adopting and embracing “Digital HR solutions” with open arms as a next big disruptive change to make their organizations efficient, effective and competitive. Digitization of the entire HR process requires a significant amount of investment, long execution time, meticulous planning, highly skilled resource pool and unflinching faith of the organization leadership in the product and the people executing the project. With the mammoth risk of failure hovering around, it is imperative to envisage, objectively analyze and proactively take all measures to mitigate the known risks of the project failure

Digital HR transformation– Some Key Considerations

During my own journey of digital HR implementations in the vast labyrinth of complex IT landscape and unrealistic customer expectations, I discovered umpteen hurdles and impediments that may seem smaller in scale and impact during the evaluation process but do have the potential of toppling the steady ship of HR Digitisation projects. Below is the summation of critical success factors that should be considered, reviewed and deliberated by the project stakeholders before and during the project execution phase to ensure the successful completion of the project.

1.  Alignment with the organization's strategic growth Plan:

Digital HR solution must be an integrated component of the overall strategic growth plan of the Organization in general and IT Strategy in particular. The chances of failure multiply manifold if it is not neatly aligned with business growth curve despite being a dream and ambitious project of an exuberant CHRO.

2.  Measurable Objectives and Outcomes of Digital HR Implementation:

Measurable KPI's for project success need to be identified, evaluated and benchmarked with the best industry practices. Blindly following the footsteps of a competitor or chasing a crazy market trend without objective analysis will not yield the required result. There are many statistical tools and methods available for evaluating the product cost and the benefits. Comparison of "Total Cost of ownership" and "Return on Investment" over a period of 3-5 years is one such method that provides valuable insights into the leadership for planning. ROI calculation for any Digital HR solution is very complex since all current and future benefits must be quantified and aligned with the financial matrix. The improvement in the key process metrics over a period also helps to measure the project success.

3.  Business Process Reengineering (BPR):

Digital HR solutions are merely the tools for improving, integrating and transforming the business processes. For better adoption and utilization of the HR Software, business processes must be simplified, streamlined and standardized to a greater extent by carrying out the BPR as a prerequisite of the Digital HR implementation. Many a time the former is carried out in silo without understanding the technical capabilities of the Digital HR systems leading to gnawing gaps in the desired and actual result. Hence, BPR team must be cognizant of the limitations of digital HR solutions especially the cloud solutions to deliver the over-customized solutions.

4.  Leadership commitment and Communication:

It is the commitment of the leadership team that drives the changes down the organizational hierarchy. Leadership needs to communicate, clarify and explain the long-term benefits that can be derived from the product. It will help to ease out the resistance to change and alleviate the apprehensions of the employees.

5.  Product Fitment and customization capability:

Digital HR solution is not the panacea for all ills, an organization is suffering from. It may not be possible for any HR product to address all "As Is" business processes of the organization. Business leadership must demonstrate and clearly state the readiness and flexibility to adopt the best available solution offered by the product. In case of absolute necessity, custom modifications in the product (if possible) may be allowed, however, it should be avoided due to a significant impact on the maintenance and future upgrade of the application. The product evaluation and selection of the best fit HR solution available in the market is the most critical and first step of the long journey. There are various methods available for evaluating product compatibility. A few of them are listed below.

- Analysis of the product compatibility in the same Industry or other industry with similar business processes.

- Product success stories and reference checks.

- Product evaluation by independent Advisory firms vis-à-vis the business requirements of the organization.

6.  Delivery Model Selection – On-Premise vs Hosted Solution:

Gone are the days when the expensive "Greenfield on-premise implementations" were the only option available to the customer. With the advent of cloud based On Demand models, there are multiple choices available. Customers have a choice to go for a hosted solution or a shared hosted-outsourced solution or a dedicated infrastructure hosted solution and many more. Cloud-based solutions will have limited customization capability as compared to the On-Premise products. A comprehensive cost/risk analysis needs to be done to finalize the right delivery model.

7.  Cross-Functional Project Team:

A cross-functional project execution team is a sine qua non for the successful delivery of the project. The team should be formed well before the project starts and must have a representative of all entities and function with a defined process of decision making and approval along with the clarity of role and responsibilities. The project team should have the necessary bandwidth and skills to perform the task assigned to them. The formation and empowerment of such a team go a long way in right requirement formulation, efficient project execution and ultimately organization-wide user adoption.

8.  Change Management

Project completion on time is important but not the only criterion to gauge project success. The real success emanates from the ability of business users to adopt the new Digital HR solution for carrying out business transactions. An effective change management process would be critical to driving better user adoption by providing relevant training programs to specific user groups. It may also help to allay the natural resistance of naysayers through positive messaging about the benefits to employee and organization.

Conclusion

Digital HR Transformation tools help in integrating the various complex HR functions of the organization. Selection of the best suited digital HR solution and right implementation partner is indeed the first step towards the successful business transformation using Digital HR solution as an enabler. However, the journey of success is long and arduous that would require comprehensive planning, continuous monitoring of predefined projects metrics and milestones and sustained proactive intervention by the stakeholders to remain focussed on the road to success. A giant leap of faith by the leadership team in the product and project team would seal the success.