Looking to make a change from your HCM provider because of poor service?
We recently read a study published by Kelton Global that nearly 8 in 10 (77%) HR decision makers say they regret their choice of their HCM provider. This is a staggering number considering the level of effort it takes to evaluate vendors and the exorbitant amount of information accessible to buyers today. No time in history has there been more readily available information for buyers of HR technology to use in assisting them source and select the most appropriate HRIS, payroll, time and talent management solution. So why then are 77% of businesses, according to the Kelton Global study, so disappointed with their vendor of choice? The study indicates “Poor Service” as the number one cause of buyer’s regret amongst those interviewed, but we believe that the lack of client-side implementation services had an impact on buyer’s remorse as well. And should these firms surveyed have added and utilized client-side implementation services for their HCM implementation, the outcome would have been significantly better.
What Are Client-Side Implementation Services?
Client-side implementation services are consulting services intended to supplement and fill the gaps of a client’s implementation team. In no way does client-side implementation services replace or augment any of the responsibilities by your HCM vendor. Client-side implementation services are offered by third-party consulting firms and typically recommended by your HCM vendor. The intent of the client-side resources is to work closely with your project team, in fact, I’d say more like part of your team, managing the project and acting in your best interest to ensure a successful project outcome.
A Detailed Description of Client-Side Implementation Services?
Client-side Implementation Services are a combination of several major implementation project tasks delivered by the partner. The primary deliverable components include:
- Project Management Services – A certified consultant is assigned to the client’s project team and serves as the client’s point of contact throughout the entire implementation. This consultant manages the project and the client’s internal resources to ensure the company’s objectives are achieved. These services are especially helpful for clients who have several functional areas of the system being implemented and planned to “go-live” at the same time. The implementation of a new HCM can be very hectic with simultaneous deadlines and varying internal resources that need to be managed and organized in order to maintain projected timeline and budget.
- Blueprinting Workshop – The objective of this onsite* workshop is to review the current state and assist with the future design of your new HCM system. In order for the consulting firm to add significant value and provide application design insight, it’s critical to understand the “why” your firm made this decision and identify all the project outcomes presented to leadership for project funding. This workshop is commonly conducted onsite over a two-day period in order to orient the client to the capabilities of the HCM system. This comprehensive overview and initial system orientation allows the client to consider the various configuration choices and impact of these choices, while also taking into consideration the firms culture and existing business processes.
* An onsite blueprinting workshop may or may not be offered by all consulting services firm. Before selecting a client-side implementation services partner, find out if their project analysis workshop is done onsite or remotely. We believe firmly that this workshop should be conducted onsite. It is imperative for the consultant to meet your project team face-to-face and build a foundational working relationship with each other. The consultant is part of your team after all.
- Data Services – One of the hardest tasks for clients is the extraction of people and payroll related data (e.g. demographics, earnings, taxes and deductions) from existing sources and properly cleaning and formatting the data in order for it to be transferred to the new solution. The guidance of an experienced consultant will help expedite the process and ensure vendor deadlines and data deliverables are met.
- Supplemental Training – After the initial system design and data has been submitted to the vendor, there is a period of time when clients ask for face-to-face supplemental product training. Not all consulting firms offer this type of training and few will offer it face-to-face. The biggest value-add with this type of training service is orienting the client’s employees, managers, executives on how to effectively use the tools prior to actually “going-live” with the new system and helps ensure greater user adoption.
- UAT (User Acceptance Testing) – Once a vendor completes the initial system build and converts the data into the solution, a specific time period is established in which the client needs to confirm and validate the system design and converted data is accurate. This process is called user acceptance testing (UAT) and is usually the second hardest task for any client to complete. Once again, this is certainly an area where a certified consulting firm can assign resources to help in accelerating the UAT process by lending an extra set of hands while also providing use-case scenarios for testing and help ensure the new system configuration and data testing is done as thoroughly as possible.
- “Go-Live” Readiness and Stabilization Support – The last few weeks leading to a “go-live” are the most hectic for clients. While they are trying to ensure a properly tested system, they are also preparing for end-user training, managing the proper sunsetting of the old systems while trying to keep their eye on effective company adoption to the new system.
Top Reasons Why Buyer’s Invest in Client-Side Implementation Services?
- The project team lacks the people resources and time to commit to the project.
- Key project team members are on planned leave (i.e. maturity / paternity).
- A merger or acquisition is announced.
- Project team lacks the experience, knowledge and skill set to design and configure a new system.
- Executive sponsor wants assurance the project will be delivered within an established timeframe and budget while meeting the required project outcomes.
- Prior experience implementing new HR technology was full of surprises and disappointments. This time the client wants to avoid as many surprises as possible and are looking for project guidance.
- Transitioning off a PEO and the client needs help building new HR, payroll and time management processes based on best practices.
- Desire to maximize operational efficiencies.
- Help ensure a smooth “go-live” launch and a high adoption for employees and managers.
- Desire for a “white glove” service experience. Too many clients have been in ‘been there done that before’ painful implementations and they are seeking a better experience with more positive results through the addition of an experienced project manager to supplement their internal team and guiding them successfully through the implementation.
Client-Side Implementation Services and the Impact on Buyer’s Remorse
It’s not unusual for businesses to reevaluate their existing HRIS, payroll, time and talent management systems every 5 to 7 years. And as buyers become more educated about implementing a new HCM systems and the pitfalls related to the deployment, we believe client-side implementation services are going to be considered more often to help safe guard against difficult and unsuccessful implementations. Again, according to the Kelton Global study, consulting services were a major reason why buyers experienced remorse and regret in their vendor selection.
In our experience the planning and design phase of an HCM implementation is the most critical component of the entire project. It’s not uncommon to see the vendor’s services team engage shortly after contracts have been executed and begin asking the client’s project team system design related questions. We believe the lack of understanding and application orientation at this early stage is a major cause for incorrect system design potentially delaying the implementation, creating client unhappiness and buyer’s remorse. Without a comprehensive understanding of the new system’s capabilities and configuration alternatives, clients will not realize the significance of their decisions until it is too late. Client-Side Implementation Services help ensure the goals and objectives are met, provides comprehensive planning and system design choices, and an overall better implementation experience.