In the era of transforming (Finance Transformation, Revenue Transformation, etc.), many organizations are still early in their journey of transition from old school on-premise Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) to modern consumer-grade Cloud Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions.

The scenario is that, if you are starting to look at modernizing your HR technology landscape, it is likely that your business last changed the HCM systems 15 to 20 years ago when the compelling event was moving from Mainframe to a client-server architecture. The business case then was about a cheaper, more agile, set of boxes which were managed by your internal IT team. The paradigm has shifted significantly during that period and the elements of the business case are different, but the intent is the same: Make the business better.

Because organizations do not change their HCM systems every day, this is not a core competency for them. Generally, businesses are not savvy in what questions they should be asking when considering a change in their HCM landscape.

  1. The first step before going to market, is to determine why you are doing this and what is the problem you are trying to solve

The problem definition should optimally include leadership and key representatives from the HCM line of business as well as from IT. Having both IT and HR collaborate at this juncture ensures that this is defined as a holistic business initiative versus a tug of war.

  • Scenario 1: We are in an industry where we expect a wave of retirements in the next years and we are having challenges attracting, developing, and retaining the right talent.
  • Scenario 2: Over time, our systems and processes have grown to be disparate and inefficient. We are looking to standardize.
  • Scenario 3: We want to project the image of a modern employer with a consumer grade employee experience anywhere at any time.

The above are only three examples and are not meant to be an exhaustive list. The point is that being clear on the problem definition will help greatly in finding the right solution for your organization.  More on that later.

  1. Identify the cloud HCM vendors whose solutions are most likely to meet your needs

If in the first step, for example, you have identified that the issues you face are mostly around attracting, developing, and retaining the best, you should be seeking a Cloud HCM provider that is recognized for having the Best-in-class talent suite. If the vendor you are considering is not known as among the best in the areas which you have identified as the issues you are trying to solve, there is serious misalignment right out of the gate.

In order to evaluate which solution best meets your needs, you can use some of the information published by reputable analyst firms such as Gartner, IDC, Constellation Research, HFS, etc. These organizations specialize in providing an opinion on the technology market and can provide the data which can help you narrow down the HCM solutions that are best fit. They have the advantage of being (mostly) vendor agnostic in their assessment and recommendation.

Once you have identified the Cloud HCM vendors with which you want to engage, make sure they recommend implementation partners as you will want to evaluate both the solution and potential partners to accompany you in optimizing the value of your transformation.

The right choice of partner to implement the solution is as important as the product selection plus, you will need high-level project cost estimates from implementation partners for your Business Case as well as subscription costs. There are tools which you can use to perform due diligence on implementation partners. For example, SAP publishes a link for customers to access partner statistics showing their numbers of certified consultants—it’s also a good idea to get to know the different levels of certification.

Another source is Raven Intel where customers can evaluate implementation partners. You cannot assume that because a firm claims to be experts in implementing a software that a) The firm that builds the software has the proper programs in place to ensure that all of their implementation partners are quality vendors and b) The potential implementation partner invests massively in product certification and in consulting skills training.

Be wary of firms, mostly the large generalists who are everything to everyone, who will focus heavily on the transformation elements such as Change Management and Business Process Reengineering and will use big words like “insert here” Service Delivery Model Renewal. Clearly, these elements are very important to a successful transformation, but unless they present to you a balanced team made up of consultants that have deep product knowledge and extensive implementation experience, you are destined to fail. It is no longer true that you don’t get fired for hiring a big firm.

  1. The third step is to build the Business Case

In order to get the funds required to move forward with such a project, it is key to being able to demonstrate the return on investment. Here there are many steps on what you need to build a compelling Business Case.

In the next part of this series on transforming the human experience, we will discuss the building blocks of a foolproof business case for moving to a cloud HCM solution.

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