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Micah Fairchild Manager Self-Service: 3 Ways to Increase Adoption Rates

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 By Gregory Brandeis

MSS Adoption: Matching Industry Innovation with Individual Uptake

With the pace of innovation occurring in the HR software market, few areas of the traditional HR model have been left untouched. For instance, performance management has seen significant changes in the form of social applications coming into play; workforce management technology has finally seen mobile technologies reach mainstream adoption; and even the transactional areas of HRM systems have been revitalized with the promises that the cloud can bring. One of the most interesting areas of growth and innovation though hasn’t been some new technology previously unheard of, but in the reimagining of what Manager Self-Service (MSS) software can bring to the table. And you don’t have to look very hard to see why so many companies and service providers are leveraging this stalwart of the HR tech world to their advantage.

For example, countless case studies from companies around the globe (including many leading blue chip organizations) highlight that Manager Self Service applications can lower the transactional costs related to line management. Take Dell Computers UK for instance; they saved $2.5M in the year immediately following implementation of a web based, HR Manager Self Service System thanks to the fact the virtually all HR processes could be accessed online. And that doesn’t even touch the fact that research from Webster Buchanan shows Manager Self Service is now increasingly being used to cover not only time/attendance and performance, but other areas such as absence management, training, recruitment, and even business insights such as trend analyses—a broadening of scope that has major implications for its impact on managers, HR staff, and of course labor costs.

The issue though, is that in order for businesses to net what companies like Dell (and other successful implementers of Manager Self-Service) have done, higher than average user adoption levels for MSS are needed—a fact that requires an incredible amount of due diligence, dedication, and concerted effort. After all, high adoption/utilization levels are fairly unlikely to happen by chance given workers’ natural tendencies for resistance to a new technology. Furthermore, given that Blanchard research has indicated that upwards of 70% of organizational initiatives fail, in large part due to that resistance to change, and you can see why effectively managing that process is so critical. As such, to ensure that high levels of MSS adoption are achieved, formal change management principles and practices have to be built into the MSS software implementation process. Below, we’ve highlighted just some of the tactics that can be used during the roll-out phase to reduce resistance to your Manager Self Service implementation and maximize utilization.

Manager Self Service Adoption Tactic #1: Senior Management Involvement

Though by no means an issue for solely HR software initiatives like MSS, the fact of the matter is that the C-suite has to get involved in software success is to be achieved. In fact, Yankee Group reports highlight that lack of senior management commitment is one of the major factors in the high failure rate of IT and Business Re-engineering Projects. Perhaps even more striking though is that Thomsett International research (in a study that reviewed 20 major failed projects) found this “lack of an effective Executive sponsor” to be not just present—but common. So, while it may appear as though many of our articles here at HRLab focus on this cadre of upper management, the fact of the matter is that not involving executive sponsors is not just bad practice, it’s common practice—which certainly helps to explain the staggeringly high failure rate of technology projects.

Because this also happens to be one of the key reasons that manager self-service initiatives fail, it’s vital to have an assigned high-level executive sponsor for both the planning and roll-out phase of your Manager Self Service (MSS) implementation. They’ll be able to exert high level influence and help to build stakeholder engagement levels across the business. That said, The Capacity Project's HRIS Strengthening implementation toolkit goes as far as to suggest that a Stakeholder Leadership Group be established; a team that should include the Executive project sponsor and representative users such as HR, Line Managers, Financial Analysts, etc. However, this isn’t just a group that convenes for convention’s sake though. The role of this leadership team is to, as Capacity Project puts it, “develop on the capacity to use, support and improve the system post launch”.

Manager Self Service Adoption Tactic #2: Focus on Functionality

Although caution should undoubtedly be exercised when focusing too closely on feature sets, there’s no denying that high adoption and utilization levels for your MSS can be achieved by ensuring there is a focus on functionality that will appeal to managers. For example, recent research from Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) showed that work/life balance is the most important benefit to employees (cited by 47% of respondents)—an option that ranks even higher than bonuses largely due to the inherent flexibility this option affords. Where Manager Self Service software comes in is that it functions as the tool to help facilitate this work style; and given that the bulk of these applications tend to be web-based, means that managers can perform their personnel administration tasks like holiday approvals, training requests, time-sheet approvals, etc. from home. Not only that, but your managers will also be able to access employment policies, procedures, and reports—allowing for work to occur seamlessly between the office and home. Further, according to PwC research, another tool that managers find particularly attractive is online absence management; a feature which enables them to more easily approve and plan leave for their teams—freeing them of the associated paper-work and administration and giving them more time to spend on value-added management.

Manager Self Service Adoption Tactic #3: Phased Approach

While all HR software initiatives require at least a modicum of change management, MSS implementation is a complex initiative that will often necessitate an even greater share of that process. As such, a phased approach to implementation is recommended as opposed to a big bang.

In fact, just such an approach was recently advocated by Computers in Personnel (The Business Case for Implementing Self Service), where the authors suggested that there should be MSS piloting projects to secure manager buy-in by focusing first on “tackling the biggest pain points and generating the biggest wins”.

Manager Self-Service Adoption - Final Thoughts

It’s no secret that the ultimate success of your Manager Self Service implementation will be based on your staff’s overall adoption and utilization rates. You might have the best functionality in the world, but if only 25% of your organization is using it effectively then your organization will not be realizing an acceptable return on investment (ROI). The three tactics listed above (i.e. establishing of a stakeholder leadership group; initially focusing on the most attractive functionality; and taking a phased roll-out approach) can help maximize adoption, but only inasmuch as you follow through in their tenets. Remember, managers by in large are a group that can save or sink an HR software implementation by either resisting change or embracing it. End

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In order for businesses to net what companies like Dell (and other successful implementers of Manager Self-Service) have done, higher than average user adoption levels for MSS are needed—a fact that requires an incredible amount of due diligence, dedication, and concerted effort.


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