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Step-by-Step Guide to HRIS Implementation

December 19, 2018


HRIS (Human Resource Information Systems) are the backbone of data-driven HR departments and companies.

These systems allow you to integrate different HR information / management systems to perform HR functions like providing customized onboarding programs based on new hire data and drawing insights from HR data like measuring the effectiveness of various employer brand development efforts.

Implementing HRIS systems, however, is a long and complex process (HRIS/HRMS implementation can take as long as 3-5 years), especially if you don’t take the time to properly develop your HRIS implementation strategy or adjust this strategy when required.

But, as long as you take the HRIS implementation process step by careful step, your organization can smoothly transition into a more systematic and effective era of HR management.  

Here are the steps you should follow for a successful HRIS implementation.

1. Plan and Define Objectives

The first step toward getting your HRIS live is creating your preliminary project plan and defining your objectives for the HRIS.

At this stage, you should define the reasons that your HRIS is needed, the problems that will be solved following your hr system implementation and the problems that will not be addressed by the HRIS.

For example, if one of your goals is increasing morale and employer brand strength through payroll implementation, your HRIS could include payroll time conversion that rounds up to the nearest half hour

Your project plan should:

  • Define objectives for your HRIS.
  • Identify organizational/process problems the HRIS should solve and won’t solve.
  • Assign functions that the HRIS should perform and functions it will not be responsible for.
  • Create an estimated budget for the HRIS, its implementation and the resources required by the implementation team to see this project through.
  • Begin a cost/benefits analysis based on your estimated budget and the solutions/functions you will provide with a successful HRIS system implementation.
  • Create an estimated implementation timeline to be adjusted following deeper research into various HRIS solutions.
  • Define the broad requirements for members of the implementation team.

2. Involve Stakeholders to Secure Buy-In and Manage the Transition

To ensure that your HR implementation plan is successful, you need to involve stakeholders at all levels, from the executive suite, to the rank and file employees and managers who will be using the new system.

Without buy-in, new system implementation can become delayed or deprioritized. Worse still, a lack of buy-in can result in your new system being a source of pain or contention in your company, as employees and executives alike struggle with the system and fail to see the value of this investment.

To secure the support you need for your implementation project to be a success, you should take the time to present the business case to all stakeholders and future users of the system.

  • Present the business case for your new HRIS to upper management (organizational benefits provided, estimated budget and timeline, cost/benefits analysis, opportunity cost for not investing in an HRIS).
  • Meet with all future users of the HRIS to discuss how the new system will benefit their working lives and to get some feedback on your tentative training plan.
  • Answer questions, take notes and add requirements to your HRIS criteria if a stakeholder or employee identifies a possible and practical use/feature for the new system.

3. Create your Project Team

Creating a project team that is equipped for the HRIS implementation process is essential for its success.

You want to draw on a diverse range of perspectives, experience and seniority levels to ensure that all objectives and needs related to your HRIS implementation are met.

Before you begin your implementation project, create your project team and define each member’s role and responsibilities. Answering the following questions will help you create your dream project team:

  • What are the different functional roles for the project team
  • Which skill sets must be present in your project team?
  • How many people must possess each essential skill set for the project to progress on your required timeline?
  • Which skill sets are required for successful implementation that are not currently present in your staff, not present in enough staff members or not present at the required level of skill?
  • Given the skills of your team, what kinds of consultants will be most useful to hire? Will it be beneficial to hire an HRIS/HRMS consultant for the duration of the project?
  • Which team members will be assigned full time and which team members will be rotating from their other duties within your organization? What will be the time requirements for these rotating employees?
  • Who will be the most senior members of the team and who will be the project’s leaders?
  • How will team member competency be evaluated before they are brought onto the project?
  • How will desired employees be incentivised to join the project team?

4. Evaluate HRIS Options

To choose the right HRIS, you need to approach you search systematically and evaluate each solution against the business needs and required functions you have defined for your project plan.

These are the most important factors to evaluate when researching potential HRIS for your company:

  • The cost of competing products against your budget for this project.
  • The features offered by various products against the needs and functions you require for the HRIS.
  • Reviews of the HRIS solutions you are considering and independent research of the companies providing them.
  • Levels of customization, supported 3rd party software integrations and the limitations of these integrations.
  • The software implementation timeline to be expected for each solution evaluated and the cost that this timeline will result in (internal employee hours, consultants required etc.).
  • The complexity of implementation and support required during and following integration.
  • Forms of customer support offered by the software vendor and independent ratings/reviews for this support.

5. Create a Process Map for Implementation

After you have identified a HRIS provider that meets the objectives and needs you have defined, it’s time to update the project plans and timelines you created at the beginning of this process with the specific parameters of your chosen system.

To more effectively plan the implementation process and execute implementation, create a visual process map divided into project phases.

Here’s an example of an HRIS implementation process broken down by phases:

Phase 1 - Prepare

  • Consult with key stakeholders for last minute updates to requirements/goals and update your plans/budget/timeline.
  • Plan the scope and specifics of your implementation requirements (required tasks, individuals assigned to tasks, deadlines, use of consultants, actual budget, actual timeline, etc.)
  • Coordinate with HRIS vendor/support and finance the purchase of the system.
  • Hire strategic support/planning/implementation consultants.
  • Prepare the project team and have a pre-launch team dinner/outing for team building.

 Phase 2 - Implementation

  • Data integration/migration from all internal/external sources.
  • HR workflow and processes creation.
  • HRIS module implementation.
  • Testing of data quality, workflows, automated processes, modules, 3rd party integrations, GUI and overall functionality.  

Phase 3 - Going Live  

  • Final pre-live testing.
  • Begin training of all system users.
  • Integration into operations in phases by functional team.
  • Manage transition within organization and HR department.

Phase 4 - Post-Live Evaluation and Support

  • Assign internal support staff and begin long-term support contract with vendor if necessary.
  • 3rd party software integration with the HRIS.
  • Auditing system performance.
  • Assess system performance against original project objectives.
  • Assessing adoption success and satisfaction levels throughout the company.  

6. Execute Implementation

Now that you have your implementation process mapped out, it’s time to get to work.

The cost and timeline of this project will vary based on the HRIS you have chosen, the size of your organization and the information systems that will be integrated under your HRIS, but no matter the time and capital investment, these best practices will help you complete this project successfully.

  • Complete system implementation steps in phases, so that adjustments can be made and tests can be run as the process moves forward.
  • Identify the metrics that will be used most frequently by various employee, manager and executive categories and optimize related processes and data visualization for each category.
  • Create workflow designs that will be familiar to your employees to increase ease of use and decrease required training time.
  • Avoid the addition of new requirements and features during the implementation process, as this can significantly delay your timeline and push you past your budget.
  • Communicate progress and milestone achievement regularly to key stakeholders and your organization at large.
  • Create some buzz as your implementation approaches the finish line with a “coming soon” presentation that shows off how you’re making everyone’s job easier with this system.

To see some practical examples of a typical IT implementation process for HR systems, here are some resources provided by and concerning Oracle HR system implementations:

7. Post-Live Training

Once your HCIM is up and running, it’s crucial to begin training users as quickly as possible and testing for issues that will affect users throughout your organization. The longer the down time between your system going live and it’s full adoption and integration by employees, the greater the cost.

Here are best practices for your post-live training on your HRIS:

  • Use your implementation project team, consultants and support from your HRIS vendor to help you develop an effective training program.
  • Establish a target date to have all users fully trained on your new system.
  • Establish criteria to indicate whether a user is in need of additional training.
  • Use the most knowledgeable project team members to assist people responsible for training employees.
  • Train all users as quickly as possible without sacrificing the quality of training.

8. Testing Post-Live Performance

The last step of your HRIS implementation process is to test the post-live performance of the system and measuring its ability to meet the objectives, perform the functions and solve the problems defined at the beginning of this process.

For example, if your old payroll system was inconsistent and had employees consistently asking “how long does it take to process payroll anyways?” one of your key criteria would be evaluating the processing consistency and speed of payroll deposits.

In a related example, if you were looking into how to convert time for payroll in a way that increased employee satisfaction and employer brand strength, you would want your HRIS to:

  1. Convert time for payroll rounding up to the nearest quarter or half hour.
  2. Include mechanisms to accurately measure employee job satisfaction and factors relating to employer brand strength (likelihood to recommend organization to a friend, confidence that they will advance in the organization, work life balance, etc.).
  3. Provide data visualization tools to measure the effects of your payroll initiative on the overall satisfaction scores and employer brand strength scores at your company. 

How Data Lakes Take the Place of Traditional HRIS

Human Resource Information Systems ensure that all of your HR data is centralized and able to be used by anyone who needs to use it, but data lakes accomplish the same result more easily and quickly.

Using a private SwoopTalent data lake, you will be able to access all of your talent data anywhere, any time. From making more informed hiring decisions to rich, comprehensive talent analytics to power machine learning, SwoopTalent exists to help you become more data driven at every stage of the talent lifecycle.

Implementations with SwoopTalent are measured in weeks, not months.The best way to optimize your own planned implementation is to talk to us, and we'll give you a clear plan.

You can schedule a demo here, and we’ll show you how our data solutions bypass the expensive and time consuming HRIS implementation process. You can also

Do AMAZING things with talent data

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