When I began my last position in Human Resources Operations, the leadership team asked me to develop a new HR Information Systems roadmap as my first mission. Since I lacked a deep technical understanding of the components of Workday, Jobvite, Taleo Learning Management, and various other information systems, the task presented a daunting challenge. To get started with the process, I embarked on a “listening tour.” Instead of diving into the technology, I set out to gain a deeper understanding of what needed to happen with all of our systems and tools by listening to the different subject matter experts either within our HR department or various vendor companies.
After gathering information from all of these different stakeholders, I asked myself three essential questions:
1. I know what we have in place for technology, but how are people actually using the systems?
I mapped out many of the processes that both the user and the administrator have to go through when using the specific technology. Was there an integration that helped with different data feeds, or did someone have to accomplish this task manually? Did the customers have self-service functionality or was it lead by HR? By creating these process maps, I could determine what functionality we were using and not using to make a more informed decision about how to move forward.
2. What pain-points existed with the current process and technology?
Determining the pain-points was really easy. After mapping the process that included both manual and systems processes, various problems – whether real or perceived – presented themselves. Also, when on my “listening tour,” the people whom I interviewed usually began the conversations by describing what was not working and what they would like to have fixed. Through these conversations, I learned that many of our processes required up to 5 or 6 different touch points. Though the organization knew that technology could automate many of the tasks being performed manually, the process of employing new systems more efficiently needed to be prioritized.
3. What are the business imperatives and/or objectives for the company and HR team?
After outlining a process map, the systems capabilities, and the pain points, I compiled a huge list of things that needed to be done. Admittedly, this resulted in a set of requirements that seemed totally overwhelming and impossible to execute with an HRIS team of 1.5 people and almost no money in the budget for outside help. At this stage, we needed to prioritize the initiatives by understanding the business needs and objectives for the upcoming year. Did we need to go paperless? Or should we focus on ensuring more self-service capabilities? Or, could be integrating systems? By collaborating with the business leaders, I could determine the upcoming priorities and develop a potential schedule.
With all of this information, we could confidently create a roadmap for our HRIS project and begin to execute on these ideas. This process has also served me well when mapping out other projects. However, I would also leave you with two other hints that I learned through this initial experience. First, whatever time you think that a project will take, add 25%. Second, make sure that your roadmap is accessible, and in front of everyone, so you that you don’t get off course. Everyone will want to add to your roadmap and fight to get their pet-projects moved up the line so stick to your plans. Roadmaps should exist as living documents. Be sure to look at them often and update them as needed. It’s the nature of the beast.