• Congratulations! You’re getting new HR tech to help streamline your processes and make it easier to hire high-quality employees. For the past fifteen years, we’ve helped our clients through many implementations and have come up with a list of the five most important steps you can take for a successful implementation.

    1.  Pick Your Project Team

    The first step is to identify the right resources for your implementation project, in this case, team members.  You will need to include members from your human resources department, recruiters, hiring managers, IT, and other stakeholders. Include at least one member from every department or division impacted by the implementation.

    Once you’ve chosen your team members, you need to decide their roles and how extensive their involvement will be in the implementation process. Participation varies based on skill set and which phase of the project is active.  While some members will have extensive participation daily, others may only need regular progress reports.

    When planning your meeting schedule, make sure to include only the team members necessary in each type of meeting. Keep your meetings tight, and don’t waste anyone’s time. We suggest including everyone (decision-makers, HR, recruiters, trusted hiring managers, etc.) when conducting training calls or demos.

    Once you begin testing the solution, involve HR, recruiters, and trusted field managers. They have a unique perspective on the day-to-day tasks and can spot minor changes that could make a big difference in the solution and its use. We suggest assigning a dedicated resource to the project if possible. Having a subject matter expert on your side helps your project flow smoothly. This person can dedicate more time/focus/collaboration to defining system requirements and hiring practices.

    Towards the end of the process, close to the go-live date, you’ll want to invite your marketing and IT team members back. You’ll need their help with communications, careers page design, set up, and other administrative tasks.

    2. Create a Communications Plan

    Develop a communications plan to ensure you are communicating with the right team members at the right time with the right impact. You will need to communicate project goals, expectations, deadlines, on-going progress, and other pertinent information throughout the process. And you’ll need to communicate with different members at different times. We all know that too much email leads to apathy, so only contact a team member if it’s necessary for them to do their job.

    Having a formal plan ensures that your communications are effective and you’re engaging with the correct members throughout the entire process. Your goal is to avoid delays because someone wasn’t informed on the progress and is unaware of starting the next step or phase of the project. Noting which team members should receive which communications, how often, and by what method (email, text, etc.) sets team members’ expectations.

    3. Think Through Your Project Design

    The easiest way to ensure a smooth implementation is to have a well-designed, structured process for managing the project. It needs to be logical, organized with well-defined steps. When designing the project, remember to focus on results, not just the process.

    Here a few things to consider before designing your new system:

    • Understand the level of effort and time both system users and job applicants are willing to invest in learning a new system.
    • Understand your users’ (hiring managers, recruiters, HR) job descriptions and workloads. Know how each set of users will interact with the system and how much time they’ll spend using it daily.
    • Understand the different types of applicants that apply to your organization. Will they be leadership/professional positions? Front line/hourly workers? Or both?
    • Keep the system as simple as possible. Too many clicks can create user burnout and lower user adoption.
    • Build in reportable steps.
    • Build in repeatable steps. Repeatable steps that are intuitive let the solution teach itself and reduce training needs.
    • Design in accountability, transparency, and visibility.
    • Plan for growth and scalability. What happens if your organization goes from 3,000 employees to 50,000?
    • Know your HR and compliance policies. Are they current? Are they changing?
    • And finally, what are your goals for the solution? Your implementation team’s goal is to help you achieve your goals like time-to-hire, application-to-hire, reportability, application flow-volume and management.

    4. Test and Test Some More

    Don’t forget to plan for the time it takes to test your new system. Testing is an integral part of the implementation process and can save you money over time. This part of the process ensures your system is reliable and easy to use. It also catches any defects or bugs.

    We recommend creating multiple requisitions and candidates when testing your new system. This engages users in a learn-by-doing method, instantly creating a team of experts. In addition to creating requisitions and candidates, you will also verify any configuration items you’ve requested. This phase will likely require the most time from your team.

    After training has ended, your users may not log in for another two to three weeks. This delay can cause them to lose a sizable chunk of knowledge they gained in their initial training.  We find that about 80% of our clients experience a delay—this impacts schedules and adds to the project’s overall cost. We recommend conducting end-user training somewhere between one and three weeks before your go-live date. Some users can even be trained after the system is live, based upon how often they hire and interact with applicants. Training close to go-live or their first use of the system reduces managers’ risk of losing what they learned. They are also better able to share their knowledge throughout the organization, helping to train others.

    5. Go Live!

    Your teams have put in the hard work. You’ve tested and trained.  At the end of the project, some clients hesitate to take the plunge and turn on their new system. There are many reasons delays occur. Implementing significant changes can be scary and is a lot of responsibility. Still, the reward of a successful system is worth it. Don’t be afraid to go live.

    What makes a team delay going live? Sometimes it’s fear of new challenges or a new process.  It could be fear of operating without the Cadient implementation team. Or it might be fear that the new system won’t work as designed.

    It is true that your implementation team must leave you eventually and move on to new projects. But you will keep your Client Success Manager, who will support you throughout your implementation and after your go-live event. Client Success Managers are experts in the day-to-day challenges of hiring for organizations of all sizes. You’ll be in good hands as they have vast amounts of experience supporting clients.

    Some teams are worried that the go-live will fail or simply overwhelm them. We can assure you that we are with you throughout the entire go-live/transition process. You are never “on your own.”  When you create your plan, know the date you want to go live.  When kicking off the implementation project, discuss this date with your implementation team.  Add it to your project schedule and highlight it.

    After your kickoff, we refine your schedule and reconfirm the go-live date with you.  Choosing a pre-determined go-live date helps you avoid going live during an inconvenient time. You don’t want to change over to a new system or integration in the middle of a major holiday season, vacation period, or job fair/mass hiring event. And changing your go-live date to accommodate major events you neglected to plan for can cause downstream impacts.

    And Lastly, remember that…

    While every new system has its challenges, talent acquisition solutions are meant to make hiring as efficient and painless as possible. There are always a few speed bumps to every new process, but the benefits far outweigh the concerns. But most importantly, remember your original goals for implementing your new system.

    Clients with well-thought-out teams and plans that include testing and training have the most successful implementations and adoptions of their new solution. They can hit the ground running with full support from their organizations and solution users.

    Where to go next? Read this one: A Look at HR Integrations.

    Andrew Wilson

    Implementation Specialist

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