Tiiu Tiisaar, General Manager, Online Personnel Management Systems (OPMS)
While many people recognize the competitive advantage a good resource planning and management system can bring, how and where to begin implementing a system is a question on the minds of many businesses.
Reflecting on the discussion I recently had with a prospective client, here are six steps that I believe companies should follow to have success in selecting and implementing a new software.
1. What does it take to enter data?
Like all good software, a personnel management system is only as good as the people inputting or extracting the data. And those at the “coal face” of the management program need to know how it works, and more importantly, how it works best for your business.
Data entry is tedious and expensive. Every click counts when an operation is performed over and over again. End users – those who will operate the system and interpret results – need to be involved in the process to select the most suitable system. If they aren’t, there is a risk a choice could be made that doesn’t realistically assess the workload on employees.
End users should be involved in visualising how the selected software will be used on a daily basis.
2. Are you blinded by pretty graphs and buzzwords?
Images can tell a thousand words but what if the details are inaccurate, incomplete, or worse, not understood?
It can be costly to any business if employees don’t know how to analyse what they see correctly. It is more efficient for employees to have the knowledge and skills to comprehend raw data than spend thousands of dollars on software that presents a “dumbed down” picture. That means workers must own the data and have access to it.
Staff need to have ownership and a thorough understanding of the origins of your personnel data in order for graphs and statistics to have maximum impact and value.
3. Are you welcoming all possible users?
There needs to be a broad outlook when adopting a personnel management program. It might require a wide range of employees contributing to the overall picture, a high number of users across a raft of departments is a good example of well-utilised software.
It didn’t surprise me that a company that uses OPMS recently reported 99% of office-based employees log into the software on a daily basis.
There are a variety of concerns why companies might make the decision to restrict access, including:
Users gaining access to information they shouldn’t: Each reputable software has plenty of user access levels to control the functional capacity of individuals. While users can be set up with a read-only capability, their invested interest in the data available to them is still very powerful.
Cost of adding more users: If a user is continuously distracted by questions from other departments, it means less time spent doing what they do best. Productivity is lost and that, in the end, is a cost for any business. Software used across various departments helps create a mutual understanding of each other’s roles in the business. It is the conduit in inter-department dealings. So, it is crucial the commercial aspects of the software licence don’t dictate or restrict the number of people who require access.
Cost of training users: Businesses must take note of training times during the system selection process. If it requires weeks of education to use the system, then alarm bells should immediately ring. Such a duration for training, and the associated costs are simply unsustainable for your business.
High user engagement across various departments is a vital component of successfully implemented software.
4. Will the support desk provide the necessary response for users?
Plenty of businesses have a cautionary tale about support desks. Unfortunately, workers can have a very short attention span when seeking answers and can quickly lose interest in seeking the correct answers if they don’t receive prompt and professional replies. Again, that allows inefficiencies to creep into operations. There is even more at stake with software support desks as users can very easily fall into the trap of adopting bad work practices if the required guidance and assistance is not provided when required. Not only can this compromise the integrity of the software and impact on the data needed for your business to run smoothly, it can create undesired consequences in the future that might cost time and money.
Don’t underestimate the value of the support structure available.
5. Is there an unwillingness to let go of the old processes?
Once a commitment has been made to go electronic it is unwise not to commit to it. A costly, yet very common example, is the hesitation to deprecate paper personnel files. If due diligence has been followed in regard to data privacy, back-up policies and alike, then making paper filing redundant is an immediate benefit from software implementation.
Unfortunately, often old and new processes run simultaneously for too long, increasing rather than decreasing costs.
6. How much will the customizations cost your business?
It must be remembered that no off-the-shelf product will perfectly suit your business. There is no one-size-fits-all program. But, the problem is even the best business improvement specialists can’t forecast all the customizations required down the track. New requirements emerge as the company or industry changes and it is critical to be able to adapt your systems to suit. If the software doesn’t offer flexibility to handle the amendments, your businesses will be spending considerably to suit your future requirements.
Ideally there is an avenue for you as a client to contribute towards standard features that might occur.
For more information contact Tiiu Tiisaar (firstname.lastname@example.org), General Manager, Online Personnel Management Systems (OPMS).