Be Mindful of Mid-Contract: 10 Tips
The myth of mid-contract allows us a natural lull in activity with our people systems strategy. It is all too easy to use the phrase “business as usual” (BAU) as a great excuse for everyone to find this just the right thing to be doing.
Last time, a tongue-in-cheek take on how most effectively to stack up trouble was fun (click here to read that) but here are your straightforward alternatives.
10 suggestions to be mindful of mid-contract:
Consult your System Managers early
Organisational change will mean systems change is required. Consult your systems folk ahead of time to make sure that your changing world doesn’t mean systems no longer serve, or worse still, change itself falters.
Develop but don’t tinker
A second phase of development, mid-contract, is quite possibly just what you need. With learning from implementation and the experience of use, it’s a great time to accelerate the benefits of your HR system. This is different from incremental tweaks, which can create add-on customisation that results in a beast very difficult to use, understand or roll back from.
Watch out for manual calculations
Manual calculations are akin to customisations. They are a useful clue that something is not being done as it could or should. If you spot manual routines, ask why. Should the system do this for us? Are our rules too complex? Are we over-checking?
Count the cost of spreadsheets
I’ve said that spreadsheets can spread, as can their cost in time and confusion. Don’t lurch towards more without considering alternatives. This might mean using analytics or system query tools, consolidating existing spreadsheets or reports, setting up automatic information schedules or alerts – or encouraging end-users to log on and look up!
Give suppliers a second chance…
…..But not more. Those who partner with you in your technology should feel like partners. At the end of contract period you will need to look at suppliers of both product and service (distinguish the two!). Pay attention to this during the course of the interim months and years and don’t accept second best.
Make sure of on-boarding routine
Internal team turnover is a real problem for effective use of HR technology. You can safeguard against the gradual dilution of what your team knows and can do, to a large but never complete extent, by requiring current post-holders to have in place a mini succession plan. Note that leaving this to notice periods is a dangerous game. Documentation helps.
Analyse the utility of MI
Typically over time reports build and build in number upon management or HR request. There is little serious risk here, but there is a gently increasing inefficiency and potential frankly to waste a ton of time. Take regular stock of how useful and how much used is each source of management information sent out. Keep it neat.
Find others using your system and using other systems
If at all possible find a user group – these are great! You will learn the most mid-contract if you also network with those in other sectors using your system too, but also those using other systems. It would be great to have a clue at a next major decision-point as to whether you are fundamentally onto the best thing.
Check up on housekeeping
Here is another message to keep things neat and tidy. Every system will work best with a degree of good housekeeping to minimise clutter and optimise performance. Who is doing this? Are they doing it? Are you understanding best practice?
We find that it’s often 12 months ahead of contract end that organisations emerge from mid-contract complacency and think about renewal or reconsideration (system selection). A year is actually not so long to do this in. This depends on scale and in some contexts 12 months is spot on, particularly if the points here are in good order. If you’re sizeable and you sense any kind of trouble or major change requirement then plan to double this.
Keep these tips on your dashboard and approach contract renewal with insight, information and conviction.
p.s. I love how words as well as technology do things for us in life. It’s a sign of the times and the degree to which tech tools evolve that these watch-points are not on the radar, but on the dashboard. And ironic that the HR tech dashboard is full of dashboards, but still quite capable of allowing us to ignore its own.