How to let an HR System get Complacent

Everyone appreciates the activity of system selection, project stage and contract close. Inboxes and diaries are busy. These are two reasons why, particularly if under our watch are other responsibilities beyond people systems strategy, it is terribly convenient to believe in the myth of mid-contract.

The unwritten rule is that mid-contract and in the BAU (business as usual) there is a little bit of relaxation of systems tension. Of course, teams work desperately hard and fast and furiously at that BAU. This effort I don’t dismiss – the activity is real – but the mid-contract falls prey to a parallel kind of inactivity in systems direction, aided and abetted by the idea of the BAU. If BAU means the doing something like the same as usual until just before a pending contract deadline, then let’s look at how best to do just that.

Here are 10 sure-fire ways to stack up trouble with the myth of mid-contract. In case of doubt, I strongly suggest you don’t do the following. I conclude with a “one for luck” to turn our fortunes:

  1. Leave out your systems stakeholders

Mid-contract you’ll be busy with other projects. If you avoid consulting those you rely on for systems management about their impact then you can find out later on why your change can’t be delivered. Most businesses restructure and this affects systems – too late.

  1. Ignore the cost of tweaks

Users are going to require changes in the course of a period that’s several years. Do each in isolation and you can successfully reinvent wheels, miss chances of systems efficiency and integration and discount a creeping consultancy cost.

  1. Live with manual calculations

Implementation doesn’t always deliver the perfect result for all complex scenarios. To extend your pain, live with high volumes of manual calculations in HR and payroll – perhaps even your end-client-users – and leave a revision until you get a better system.

  1. Add some more spreadsheets

It’s not just manual work that can serve as millstones. Spreadsheets can do just that – spread. There is the opportunity that the single source of HR data becomes one of many sources of confusion. Reconciliation can extend from its due place in payroll cycles to an activity absorbing those who draw the short straw to stare at said spreadsheets.

  1. Settle for second best service

Lose faith in your suppliers. Accept error rates and disappointing lead times or a lack of continuity of advice. Regard your partners as in their place and quite possibly onto the new client list.

  1. Dilute internal learning

As staff members using your HR system change as months go by, there is the very real training phenomenon of “Chinese whispers”. It works even more if configuration choices, change control and process revision are not documented.

  1. Report for reporting’s sake

Big data is available and it’s all about volume. People data is so powerful, as are the BI tools and the ability to schedule automatic reports and analysis. MI reports can reach managers at all levels according to need and they can keep happening even if they are never read. The more the merrier surely.

  1. Forget that there are others out there

Given that we are all different, the mid-contract systems context can remain neat and narrow if we avoid looking outside the organisation. Forgo user group or industry networking and leave HR technology off the agenda of common interest groups. Focus on your sector only and what your own supplier includes in version updates.

  1. Allow clutter to accumulate

Regard system housekeeping as a nice-to-have and the bit that project teams did not have time for. Notice the accumulation of archive, account records and active processes. How many user, people, application, vacancy records can you amass? How many data errors can you correct and correct again (but outside the core system)?

  1. Wait for the 12 months to go moment

With more than 12 months until the end of contract you are safe to stack up a grand sense of panic in realising this anniversary is ahead. Your supplier will remind you.
This is horribly mean to leave all without an assurance that the above is avoidable. Whilst the pervasive myth of mid-contract is not without explanation and excuse, more pertinently if any of this rings true, it is surmountable. So with one for better luck…..

  1. Keep heart, faith and ambition

I believe in systems and the potential for success against the odds with your tools. For next time let’s have some “instead try this” tips for arriving at contract due dates with a clear head, a measure of success and a strong case for doing more.

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