Planning for System Implementation

Planning is the first step involved in system implementation. It is the very basic function which describes effectively the very basic questions of how, where and when the objectives can be realized or it serves as a guiding framework. Planning equally involves a careful assessment of the available resources and the challenges which the team might have to encounter while reaching their business objectives/goals.

According to Koontz & O’Donell, “Planning involves making advanced decisions regarding what is to be done, how is to be done and who is required to do it”. IMPLEMENTATION, on the other hand, is the process of execution of the proposed plan. Planning establishes the framework for successful implementation of a system or a module. Key steps which are essentially involved in the entire process are discussed below:

Project Manager or Project Leader: A project manager is a professional who is responsible for planning and execution of projects within predefined timelines and resources. Project managers can be hired by using three possible techniques, but certain basic qualities or attributes are mandatorily required in project managers. A project manager should have sufficient knowledge to execute the complete project within the stipulated time and budget. He should be a good leader and be well versed with the various technicalities and project methodologies. He also should be a good communicator.

Project Managers can be hired from external sources i.e., a consultant should be appointed. This method is pretty expensive and also needs the expertise to hire the right consultant within budget and contract. The second option is also to hire a full-time manager from a project management institute. Even though this option is less expensive than that of hiring an external consultant, yet this is not free from limitations.

For hiring a project manager with a specialized responsibility of managing projects, an organization needs to have ample projects available with it and in future as well. The third option is to select a manager who is already involved in the project execution and may temporarily act as a project head for that particular project.

Steering Committee/Project Charter: The project manager is helped by a team of individuals who assist the manager in following the implementation process, which is known as the steering committee which decides on the priorities of business of an organization and manages its operations. The key characteristics of a “good” steering committee are:

  • The steering committee should essentially create healthy competition amongst the participants and foster an enabling working environment for facilitating achievement of goals.

  • The steering committee should ensure the mechanisms to get things done.

  • The steering committee must make sure that the project meets all the needs of participants.

  • Ultimate decision maker in handling legal, technical, cost management, cultural and personnel issues.

A Project Charter is defined as a statement of scope and objectives of the participants in a project. It:

  • Provides a strategic direction by striking an alignment between the project goals and the organizational goals or strategies.

  • Provides a description or clarity about the scope of the project

  • Selection of team of individuals and experts

  • Decision-making process involved

  • Process of customer feedback

  • project management methods to be used

  • budget and,

  • Constraints in the project

Implementation Team: Project Manager is supported by both the functional as well as technical professionals who look after the operational and software development requirements. The functional team members are essentially from the HR department, who have extensive knowledge about the HR functioning and the processes involved in it. On the other hand, the technical professionals possess strong technical expertise and the knowhow for integrating the processes of HR with Information Technology.

Project Scope: It is important for effective project management. Projects should be carefully planned and executed and this can be made possible if the project scope is clearly defined. Project scope enables following of the predefined road map, the resources which may be involved in it and the deadlines within which the project is supposed to be completed.

Management Sponsorship: Management sponsorship and project management are mutually interdependent and are linked with each other. Management is responsible for any change in the project whether to add or remove or change the project. Senior managers who having extensive experience and proven abilities in projects, offer their formal acceptance over the implementation of the project as a sponsor.

Process Mapping: This is one of the most crucial steps involved in implementation of a system as it highlights the systems and processes involved in the implementation stage, provides a clear idea about the key existing processes and the changes required for implementing the system. It involves developing of flowcharts which can provide a clear idea about the processes, identifies what data elements are implemented and their source, modification of each process and at the existing output. Besides flowchart, other tools are also used for mapping.

At first each and every process of the HR function are identified and then, on the basis of that, flowcharting is done. Generally a template is formed for better understanding which contains all the description of function of the business and procedures. On completion of the process maps all are compiled into a large chart that gives us an overall view of the organization’s processes which are stored in an easy to access electronically location.

Software Implementation: Once the planning, sponsorship as well as the mapping is done, now is the stage for the ultimate software implementation. At first the hardware condition is verified, i.e., all the parts of the software implementation. Then the software implementation process starts by determining which past data should be acquired. Each and every step of the HR Processes are matched with the HRIS process. The documentation process is the last step.

Customization: Customizations offer ample opportunity to the HR department to match their functional processes with the software. Customizations provide scope for continuous improvement and facilitates achievement of business goals through robust solutions. Customizations involve continuous software upgradations and involves huge maintenance costs.

Change Management: In this process acceptance of user is determined, whether the HR users accept the concept of HRIS. The employees may face difficulty on accepting it, so, proper training should be given over the system processes.

“Go Live!”: This is the stage for the get goers. Here in this stage, the old software may be shut down immediately with the introduction of the new one or there may be training procedures or proper knowledge training of the software before interaction.

Evaluation of Project: Once the project is implemented, continuous evaluation is required for identifying the loopholes or major drawbacks in the system and developing a plan of action for overcoming these drawbacks.

Potential Pitfalls: This is the last stage where certain things are considered:

  • Poor plan and its poor scope.
  • Indefinite mapping.
  • Failure to assess the internal as well as environmental changes.
  • Wrong implementation of the evaluation.

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