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Micah Fairchild HR Thought Leader William Tincup In His Own Words

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HCM Thought Leader Podcast Series

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HCM Software User Adoption—From Change Management to Vendor Communication
William Tincup William Tincup, co-founder of Starr Tincup (an HR marketing agency) & current head of Tincup & Company (a consulting firm for both vendors and practitioners) shares insights into the change management process and provides user adoption strategies to yield not only post-implementation efficiencies but also long-term effectiveness from any given HR and/or Payroll software solution.

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40 minutes, 40 seconds (40:40)


Key take away points in the discussion with Thought Leader William Tincup:

  • Gartner's research estimates that 55-75% of all technology projects fail to meet their objectives and William estimates that the vast majority of these deficiencies—as many as 90%—are due to problems with change management or user adoption. However, the complexity of the situation means that focusing on change management alone is not enough. HR professionals must resist the urge to depend solely on HR software selections. William states that understanding the essential relationship among communication, training, and change management is paramount to success.

  • William advises that many HR executives have developed a fine vetting process for selecting the right HR software; yet issues such as meeting the implementation team only after the contract is signed can make the post-purchasing period a pitfall for companies. He suggests a new paradigm where HR begins developing these crucial relationships earlier in the process, allowing for more focus afterward on user-adoption, which is paramount.

  • Communication is vital to user adoption and William believes that serious consideration must be given during the selection process to aligning a corporation's strategy and values as they relate to change management. William cites Bombardier's success as an excellent example of how making a product user-friendly by considering a company's core values can increase the likelihood of successful user adoption. As the specific needs of audiences vary widely, particular attention should be given to process tuning for as much as one year after adoption to best meet user necessities, including providing constructive, thorough, and concise status updates.

  • William readily admits that most people are fraught with anxiety during any period of change, so assessing attitudes and aptitudes before software implementation allows for more efficacious training. Unfortunately, as the market moves more towards SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), adopting new software will likely be easier; which may erroneously lead managers to believe that training is not as necessary. Furthermore, William believes that it is in the software vendors' best interests to deeply weave training into other aspects of their business; especially given the fact that client retention, renewal rates, and ensuring that the software is deeply embedded into an organization; all depend on users truly understanding and adopting the HR and/or Payroll software product.

  • One of the more contentious pieces of William's adoption strategy is the belief that employee performance should be tied to software adoption, so that behavior is incentivized to a degree. William is quick to defend this approach, stating that it should be clear that the value an employee adds to an organization is enabled through technology—thus it should be integral to each facet of employee performance. He also supports tailored approaches to total rewards and incentives that work for the specific environment of each company; citing that organizations should be prepared to think outside the box and provide a true layer of excitement to incentive programs. Additionally, this allows an excellent opportunity for vendors and HR to collaborate.

  • Understanding employee learning styles, as well as anticipating an inevitable amount of new-user anxiety, begs for careful communication among all players and creates a perfect climate for engagement. If an organization's communication strategy is truly comprehensive and esteemed within the agency, engagement is naturally facilitated and additional efforts to focus on this component are not always necessary. A promising outcome, therefore, is that when dilemmas arise, the workforce is engaged and thus vested in finding a solution.

  • HR should think critically about which specific metrics are important to measure within their particular organization, says William, and vendors should be responsible for more thought leadership and research into how employees utilize the software. William recommends a thoughtful look at what success looks like for one's particular organization during the critical juncture of the selection process, acknowledging that this requires a certain amount of vulnerability on the part of the organization. Since shared, public data is lacking about what the industry standards should be in terms of which metrics are most vital, William encourages HR and vendors to communicate openly about what key metrics would best suit the particular organization at hand.

  • While a successful user adoption strategy must include succession management and an ample definition of the critical roles of the software application, William is able to prioritize knowing one's audience -- the total employee population, in fact -- as perhaps the most crucial component for HR to consider and an excellent place to start. End

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HR professionals must resist the urge to focus only on a given software's functionalities. Remember...a feature is not a feature unless users actually use said feature."

— William Tincup


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