I’ve arrived in sunny Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for the inaugural Brandon Hall Group HCM Excellence Conference, and Day 1 kicked off with two powerhouse pre-conference workshops. I had the opportunity to attend “Making The Right Technology Choice: Key Practices in Selecting Your Next System,” facilitated by Brandon Hall’s Michael Rochelle (Chief Strategy Officer), David Wentworth (Senior Learning Analyst), and Trish McFarlane (VP of Human Resources, Principal Analyst).
This workshop alone was worth the price of admission with its hands-on approach and the framework provided to assist participants in selecting new technology. Too often, too many of us flounder through selection and implementation, without a solid plan in place. Or maybe we’ve never had the opportunity to lead an implementation and have no idea where to start. Either way, without a solid plan the risk of implementation failure is high. Michael, along with the help of David and Trish, walked us through a very thorough framework for the selection process.
Not to give away all of the secrets (hey, you had to be there for that!), but some of the keys to this process included:
Planning & Alignment
Build a business case, including a champion and internal team, a list of “must-haves” with a clear focus on the unmet business needs you are trying to meet, and develop a solid change management and communication strategy. Keep in mind that the best technology solution is useless if you can’t get folks to buy into using it, and good technology doesn’t fix bad processes.
Educate yourself about what’s happening in the technology landscape. Don’t rely on vendors alone, but rather take it upon yourself to get up to speed to put yourself on a level playing field with the providers. And then identify and prioritize your requirements: ask yourself how you are going to use the system most of the time, and focus your priorities on the functionality you can’t live without. Build a use case, putting yourself in the role of your various stakeholders/users and ask what each needs from the system, and use that to prioritize your requirements.
Vendor Evaluation and Selection
The biggest mistake that organizations make in deciding whether or not a provider is the right fit is focusing too much on their current needs and failing to think about what their future needs may be. Take the time to set your demo agenda, including a focus on features, navigation, ease of use, integration capabilities, technical support, and implementation timelines and responsibilities. Again, have an excellent and current understanding of the providers in the market, and realize that there is no “perfect provider,” so be prepared to go in with eyes wide open. Use requests for information to begin aligning your business needs with the solutions that providers offer. Then use a technology selection scorecard to ensure that your needs and requirements are met and to compare providers, compare pricing, and think longer term when you’re negotiating contracts.
Have a change management strategy in place that includes stakeholder analysis, a risk mitigation plan, and a communication plan. Realize that not everything is going to go well, so try to predict the potential pitfalls and be prepared to address and neutralize the naysayers. Assess your organization’s change readiness, then communicate why the change is happening, the importance of it, and what the benefits will be. And remember that implementation never actually stops; user adoption is continuous, and winning the hearts and minds of your users is an ongoing project.