photo of Mary Faulkner, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board Contributor.

Mary Faulkner, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board Contributor.

A recent SHRM NextChat focusing on technology and how to reduce distractions in the workplace struck a nerve. While most of the conversation focused on the ways technology can reduce productivity and put organizations at risk, one question in particular piqued my interest –

Which social technology platforms have you stopped using due to redundancy or poor adoption rates?

What followed was a litany of brand names whose companies might weep at the lack of adoption – yammer, ello, google+, Gotomeeting, Peach, Slack, Quora, etc.

Most of these are pretty low cost (e.g., “free”) and have a low barrier to entry, so the lack of adoption might not be that big a deal. But what if you are implementing a sparkly new expensive piece of software?

Throughout my career, I have been part of a number of HR software implementations – from learning management systems (LMS), to performance management, to talent reviews, to applicant tracking systems (ATS), to the company intranet. Each implementation has its own challenges. In addition to all of the configuration and brain power needed to just get the systems working correctly, there is the pressure of cost and the added question as to whether or not people will use the software once it’s launched.

Regardless of the kind of HR software implementation you’re going through, there are a few things you can do to increase the likelihood of success. (Notice I didn’t say “guarantee” success – there’s not accounting for human behavior. Hence the word “gamble” in the title.):

  • Before you buy, make sure you need it:
    With all the cool new technology out there, it’s tempting to go out and make a purchase. But are you solving the right problem? Just as training isn’t the be all-end all solution to all performance issues, technology isn’t the be all-end all solution to your HR problems.
  • Have a strong WHY message:
    As Simon Sinek says, start with why. This is the first question people will ask you when you launch the software. You should have a good answer. Chances are you had one when you got buy-in from the leadership team, so tweak the message for the end-user.
  • Have a strong communication plan:
    Contrary to what sit-coms would have you believe, no one likes surprises. Pave the way for a successful implementation. Let people know it’s coming, why it’s coming, when it’s coming, how it’s coming, and what you need from them. Then let them know a few more times.
  • Make it easy to learn and use:
    Hopefully you selected a software with a friendly user-interface. Regardless, configure the system so it’s easy to log on (single sign on is your friend), easy to navigate, and provide lots of “help” documentation. And train the heck out of all end-users – both just-in-case (classroom/online) and just-in-time options (quick videos and job aids).
  • Integrate it into your business processes:
    If you want them to use it, don’t allow workarounds. I recently spoke to a quality manager whose organization had launched a recognition software. It was a rare opportunity to talk to a non-HR end-user, so I asked him how they went about integration and what the adoption rate was. He said the integrated it into all business processes so you couldn’t do certain tasks WITHOUT using the software. Pretty sneaky…and pretty smart. Initially, people may resist this approach, but sometimes you need compliance before you can reach consent. (Remember, yammer seemed like a good idea until no one made it mandatory.)
  • Content is king:
    As always, populate your software with useful information. Are you launching an LMS? Make sure the training content is good. Launching an ATS? Ensure the hiring manager can get to the information he/she would want to see the most. Want a company intranet? Make the content interesting and relevant.
  • Is it adding value?:
    Always ask yourself if the software is adding value to your primary user group. If not, people will abandon it and you’ll be left with an expensive desktop shortcut that no one ever uses.

Not every HR software implementation will pan out. Sometimes they start with a bang and end with a whimper. If, however, you take the time to think through your plan and set yourself up for success, you just might win the implementation battle.

Read previous post:
De-SaaS-ification, HRExaminer feature image v7.08 for February 26, 2016
HRExaminer v7.08

Why should HR Pros care about software company valuations? In this week’s two-part feature, John Sumser answers the question. Read,...