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HR Software Implementations: Customize Your Mindset, Not the Software

Today’s post comes to us from board member, Dennis Miller, the Chief Employment Officer of the Cal Poly Pomona Foundation. Dennis has had a long and varied career as a human resources professional and today he gives his thoughts on the importance of customization in the HR software implementation process – just not the kind of customization you are thinking of.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that there are about 7.5 million “employer owned” businesses in the country, which we can assume have resulted in millions of software implementations over the years related to common business systems and processes, such as those found in accounting, finance, human resources and payroll. Extrapolating this number out, we can guess that there have probably been hundreds of millions of discussions about the best approach for evaluating, selecting, and implementing a new technology-based platform with the goal of improving process outcomes in a cost effective manner.

I myself have engaged in many discussions with colleagues in higher education specifically related to tips and techniques for successful software platform implementations in the areas of human resources and payroll. Many want to know what to do – and what not to do – to help ensure that the desired outcomes of the new software platform are realized. While advice of all stripes is plentiful, there is one tip so important it truly stands alone: When it comes to software implementations, look to customize your mindset, not the software itself.

customize your mind

Smart organizations start by examining the workflows in the new platform to understand how and why they are designed the way they are. These organizations then seek to modify their own existing internal workflows and processes to match those of the new platform.

Layering a new human resources or payroll platform on top of old processes will nearly always prevent the users from leveraging well-designed processes found in the new platform. Stated differently, when implementing human resources and payroll platforms, customization of the software and workflows should only be a last resort.

Steven Covey’s famous quote “Start with the end in mind” is also applicable when implementing new software platforms. Each organization’s processes work differently and yet the various core processes for human resources and payroll software platforms will typically be pre-configured from a workflow standpoint. Applying Mr. Covey’s quote in this case means to start with focusing on the outcomes of the processes, and ultimately let the system do the heavy lifting for processing work. The workflow of the new system will usually be different than existing processes and that is okay – possibly even preferred in many cases.

When it comes to software implementations, focus on customizing your mindset – not the software – for success.

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