Strategic HR

How to Prepare for a Successful HCM Cloud Deployment

by Emily Liddle, HR strategy and transformation lead, North America, Presence of IT

Rolling out new systems and software was traditionally IT’s job. The IT department would determine the technology and push it into the business. They would understand how to maintain the new system, the security requirements, and would ensure that data integrity needs were met.

Moving to the cloud changes all of that. The cloud is disruptive and fundamentally changes the relationship between IT, HR, and finance and administration. Suddenly, the new system is HR’s responsibility. It’s new territory, and one full of pitfalls.

Preparing for a New Cloud Deployment

So how can you prepare for a new Human Capital Management (HCM) cloud deployment, one where HR is the lead, and will have responsibility for its ongoing support and maintenance? The first step is to have a project team in place, one that understands the expectations and requirements of the new system, and can see that they have the responsibility to maintain and run the system when it is live.

If project teams don’t understand these needs, the project will fail either in the medium or long term, leading to yet another system being installed after a few years, and the road to another cycle of failure is put in place.

It’s All about the Big Picture

The second pitfall is that if responsibility is given to HR, often they’re looking at the project with blinders on. They don’t see the big picture, viewing it simply from their requirements, and not from an overall business perspective.

Avoiding this trap means that the project team must set the proper expectations, engage the right people, and have a complete understanding of how IT, HR, and finance are going to work together.

There needs to be an end vision of how the new system is going to operate, who is responsible, and how the data is going to be fed back into the rest of the business. It’s important to remember that employee data drives the rest of the business, and if appropriate vision and oversight is not put in place, that data will not reach the places it needs to be.

Ensure Governance Is in Place

A further pitfall is not having appropriate governance for key decision making. In building an appropriate governance structure, HR needs to understand the foundational and organizational structure of the entire business. That vision has to encompass everything from the parent company to the regions, and from the regions to divisions and individual cost centers.

By understanding the governance structure, all decisions can be made for the deployment of the new cloud solution.

It’s also important for every division to realize that it’s up to them to adopt the new system, not adapt it to their requirements. If localization is required, the project group needs to ask what the impact is going to be on the overall function of the system, and the quality of the data being generated by that system and used by the rest of the organization.

A further pitfall when it comes to governance is not having the end goal in mind. If the end goal is always kept front and center, then that can evolve into a sustainable operating model for the system as a whole, regardless of regional or local requirements. And because cloud systems are constantly changing and being updated by their vendors, the end goal has to be constantly revised and the goal posts shifted if the new system is going to be a success.

Finally, common terms and workflow need to be agreed to, as well as an understanding of common business metrics.

With these strategies in mind, an HR department can successfully navigate the waters of implementing a system where they, not IT, has responsibility for its success. Without these traps in mind, the implementation simply won’t work in the mid or long term.

Emily Liddle Emily Liddle leads Presence of IT’s People Practice in North America, where she oversees a team of strategy oriented, product agnostic consultants to provide thought leadership, process improvement, and adoption services across the full spectrum of HCM technologies. Learn more about Presence of IT at www.presenceofit.com, and follow them on Twitter @presenceofit.