By: Paul Rose

The rise and adoption of cloud-based human capital management (HCM) software has become one of the hottest HR trends in recent years, and for good reason. Companies can take advantage of the flexibility and scalability afforded by the cloud, while still maintaining the data security and stability required for the core HR system of record.

Choosing the core HR platform (HRIS) that best fits your organization’s needs is critical to success, but how you deploy that technology is often just as important when it comes to getting the most value out of your investment. As implementing a core HRIS solution is an intricate endeavor, there are a few foundational elements HR and IT leaders can put into place to prepare the groundwork for a seamless implementation.

Here are six must-have elements for a successful core HRIS deployment project:

1. Well-defined global HCM strategy

Planning is crucial to the success of a core HRIS implementation, and starting with a well-defined global HCM strategy will help you tackle the implementation head on. A coherent global strategy allows you to make certain both the selected platform and approach to implementation are best suited to meet your HR goals and support your organization’s business priorities. HR and business leaders should collaborate across countries, regions and functions to define this overall strategy and establish core HR requirements. While localized needs can certainly be accounted for with a sophisticated cloud HCM application, having an overarching global strategy will promote a smooth and successful deployment.

2. Comprehensive plan for data management

Investing the time and resources to take into account data issues such as data migration, accuracy and governance before initiating a core HR implementation project greatly improves the outcome of the deployment. A data dictionary containing a set of common global definitions is vital when starting an implementation, since common terminology can vary wildly from one country to the next. As an example, the definitions of “permanent” vs. “temporary” and “full-time” vs. “part-time” need to be outlined so that these data elements mean the same thing across the global landscape. A comprehensive data audit carried out by a group of three to four skilled HRIS specialists four to six months before the implementation can help make sure all potential data implications have been thoroughly considered and addressed.

3. Holistic approach to systems integration

A complete and comprehensive systems integration strategy is fundamental to the overall success of a company’s core HR deployment. Ensuring one core system of record feeds to critical company applications is inherently complex, so HR and business leaders must take a holistic approach to the overall business systems portfolio. By considering the implications of a new core HR system on legacy systems and engaging other systems owners early in the project, a thoughtful and strategic approach to integration can be taken. Establishing well-defined integration requirements helps organizations avoid having to rework the solution at a later stage, saving time, money and frustration.

4. Stakeholder expectations aligned with solution capabilities

Prior to committing to and embarking on a core HRIS deployment, organizations should thoroughly research the solution functionality and closely scrutinize the implementation partner contract. Integration and custom reporting are two areas organizations should pay particularly close attention to. This due diligence ensures all requirements are addressed in the implementation contract and provides full visibility into the internal HR process changes and technology commitments needed. Perhaps most importantly, it gets everybody on the same page by aligning stakeholder expectations with functional and deployment capabilities.

5. Skilled and knowledgeable implementation partner

The right implementation partner is high on the list of factors that determine whether a core HR deployment will be successful. One of the things to look for when choosing an implementation partner is their experience with and track record for similar deployments. The size of the partner organization itself isn’t as important as is their applicable experience with the core HR system of choice. For example, if you are planning on implementing SAP Employee Central, you’ll be best served by an implementation partner that has a great deal of experience with SAP SuccessFactors cloud HR deployments of similar scope and size. Companies should also seek out implementation partners that exhibit a strong focus on the support phase of the project. Having a skilled and knowledgeable implementation partner is a huge advantage when it comes to increasing the likeliood of a seamless global implementation.

6. Sufficient allocation of internal resources

Implementing a core HRIS solution is an extensive undertaking, requiring internal resources working in close partnership with the chosen implementation vendor. Organizations need to commit skilled resources to support the implementation process, particularly in HR decision-making and HRIS specialist roles. An experienced implementation partner should provide resource forecasting requirements for the duration of the project. These requirements can then be used to secure support and commitment from senior leadership for the allocation of internal resources.

While a global core HRIS deployment can be challenging, with a bit of preparation (along with a bit of grit), HR leaders can ward off any potential issues and drive maximum business impact from their HR investment. Implementing a core HRIS solution across a global organization has inherent complexities but with strategic planning and internal collaboration – along with the guidance of a well-qualified implementation partner – organizations can ensure the likelihood of a successful core HR deployment.

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