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Dave Foxall 6 Quick Steps to an HR Software Training Strategy

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 By Dave Foxall

The Critical Training Steps of HR Software Implementation

When it comes to organization-wide technology solutions such as HRMS software, a recent Bearing Point report highlights an important fact: "The technical challenges of implementation are a simple matter compared with the human challenges". Indeed, with HR management system (HRMS) solutions the challenges of change management, employee engagement, and provision of training support are easily on a par with issues such as system specifications, data migration and security. As such, the core issue of aligning training to individual stakeholder groups fundamentally influences implementation success.

Following HRMS go-live, HR teams will be operating new systems; administrative tasks will be devolved via Employee Self-Service (ESS) and Manager Self-Service (MSS) portals; and users of those portals will see their ways of working changed—all elements of any organizational change that require support and targeted training in order to gain adoption and software success. In fact, as succinctly stated in an article from September 2011, "…adequate training is an essential component in any successful human resource software system deployment". To achieve this however, an effective training strategy is needed. Here we outline just such a strategy through the following six steps—encompassing the basic training components of how to conduct a successful HR software implementation.

HMRS Implementation Training Strategy Step #1: End game clarity

The business case for the software should include specific and detailed business goals that the HRMS is expected to achieve. Some experienced HR software trainers insist that business and aligned HR software objectives are put in a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time bound) format—and lead to ongoing performance management objectives. As Jack Welch once said, "The ultimate competitive advantage lies in an organization's ability to learn and rapidly transform that learning into action." A training strategy aligned to these business goals will direct employee performance towards their achievement (and therefore the desired advantage).

HMRS Implementation Training Strategy Step #2: Future skills

With the practical business use cases in mind, the skills and knowledge required by different user groups and stakeholders can be identified and prioritized. While all groups will need an awareness of the bigger picture (within the context of their own roles), each may have very different practical needs. For example, employees must have the basic skills to operate the user interface or HR portal as well as a detailed understanding of the new procedures for activities such as leave requests, shift bids, schedule changes, etc. Likewise, managers will need these same elements, but may also have to contend with a management dashboard, approval processing system or how to access an appropriate level of reporting functionality. For HR staff on the other hand, concern will likely be directed towards learning/leveraging new access channels to employee data and interfaces such as payroll and time/attendance. Even senior management and executives at the C-level will have a different variation of needs for system skill development, including how to leverage any new reporting options and analytics available for more informed decision-making. Failure to effectively prepare for the skills needed for any of these stakeholder groups is a monumental HR software mistake and will impair speed of deployment, user adoption and ultimate success.

HMRS Implementation Training Strategy Step #3: Current skills

The detailed picture of the skills and knowledge required for the HRMS can now be compared with the current skill levels within the various stakeholder groups. Unless up to date information regarding employee competencies is both available and comparable to this future picture, a needs analysis will need to be conducted. Even if the current data is robust, there is a value in an audit exercise in that it can form part of the communication and engagement program, involving employees earlier in the upcoming implementation.

HMRS Implementation Training Strategy Step #4: Design and delivery of training

The three key practical issues for this step are: content, method and delivery:

  • The training content should include: the wider context of the HRMS solution and its anticipated contribution to the organization; the details of the new processes that stakeholders will be expected to conduct via the HRMS; and an awareness of the longer-term aims for the HRMS and how it will be utilized in the future; e.g. later implementation of advanced functionalities (which may require further training).
  • A blended approach of training methods is ideal; including e-learning, instructor-led sessions, online 'just-in-time' modules and references and the establishment of learning communities and forums. These various content-driven methods can be balanced with more context-considerate m-learning channels. While self service learning is ideal, telephone support must also be available when needed.
  • The question of who designs and delivers the training will rest partly on what internal expertise or resources are available within the organization and, if used, what services from the HRMS consultancy and/or HR software vendor are provided.

HMRS Implementation Training Strategy Step #5: Initial evaluation

Prior to go-live, the HR software training should be reviewed with the goal of assessing workforce readiness. That readiness will largely depend on how thoroughly the above steps have been carried out. Aside from readiness however, this assessment will allow for a "bird's eye view" of the expected timeframe for your HRMS solution's ROI. Indeed, according to the article "Human Resource Software System Training" published this past year, "For immediate ROI on go-live, proper training is essential to preparing an organization's workforce for early adoption of system functionality."

HMRS Implementation Training Strategy Step #6: Post-implementation training

As the HRMS solution's use becomes increasingly embedded in the organization's procedures and culture, on-going training should become a part of an overall learning strategy. To address this training strategy facet two key questions must be asked:

  1. What further training may be required to embed and enhance the required skills (and therefore improve HRMS utilization)? and
  2. How will new users be trained as part of their on-boarding as they either enter the organization or move to a new role?

HR Software Implementation Training – the Bottom Line

Gartner research suggests that, "as high as 50-75% of technology implementations fail to produce their expected return… It is not about the hardware or the software; it is about the people and processes," and one of the top causes of failure was found to be inadequate software training. To ensure HR software implementation success, an organization's training strategy should be aligned with the business goals, be designed for individual stakeholder groups, identify skills gaps, and be properly vetted and adjusted by the training recipients. End

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A blended approach of training methods is ideal; including e-learning, instructor-led sessions, online 'just-in-time' modules and references and the establishment of learning communities and forums. In turn, these various content-driven methods can be balanced with more context-considerate m-learning channels."


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