When your project suffers a last-minute loss of personnel, it can look like a project-ending crisis. But if you keep your head and ask four key questions, the team you end up with can be better than ever.
It’s Friday. You’re ready for your HR software implementation and the kick-off meeting with your project team has been timetabled for Monday. Then you get a message on your phone. The project manager you assigned has given notice, effective immediately. It looks like you and your project are sunk. Right?
Well, not necessarily. Finding project team members is a difficult task at the best of times, but by handling assignments made in an emergency situation with the same level of thought as those made under less pressure, you can avoid some major pitfalls.
And there are four questions you need to ask when you select team members for any software implementation, no matter what the circumstances:
- Does each person have the aptitude for the role?
- Are your desired team members available?
- Do you have an assurance that they will commit to your project?
- Does your team represent an assortment of experience and perspectives?
It goes without saying that each team member needs to bring skills to the team. And since you are deploying new HR software, you need people who have an aptitude for technology and a willingness to learn. Everyone needs to be adaptable and those unafraid to try new ways of working will do best.
One of the key aptitudes to consider is communication. Whether they’re on an internal or external team, everyone is working toward the same end result, so openness and good communication skills are critical. A team that works with an outside vendor might use a different set of those skills to an internal team, but really effective project teams work in partnership with the vendor. And they allow a bit of give-and-take between technical and non-technical folks.
You need team members who are not only available and who will also make enough time for your system implementation. Finding the right people will be useless if they don’t have enough time to do the work.
It may come as a surprise, but last minute assignments can sometimes turn out to be the best. Offering an opportunity to someone hungry for a challenge can work to everyone’s advantage because someone who can pivot quickly from a planned task to a new assignment will provide positive energy to the entire team.
And finally, be aware that someone who’s available but also already working with HR technology and who understands implementation is likely to be a safe bet.
Who will pull your team through the tough times? Find people you know will be able to assure you of their commitment to your project. Training sessions, regular status calls, requirements decisions and documentation are all things that your team will need to prioritize, so you’ll need people who can keep their eyes on the ball.
Your team members must also commit to innovating together. Creative thinking doesn’t always happen between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. When you select team members, find individuals who will commit to doing their homework, commit to each other and commit to the project. Being dedicated and able to give assurance is more important than proximity, so don’t put too much emphasis on potential team members’ locations.
Your team should be a good representation of the employees in your organization. Here are some considerations as you make your selections:
- Job level: Try and involve a cross-section of individual contributors, managers, leaders and C-suite people.
- Work experience: Bring in HR team members who work or have worked across a variety of functional areas, including Compensation, Talent and Employee Relations. Fill your team with people who have different backgrounds and histories.
- Company tenure: Include people who have been with the company for different lengths of time. Don’t overlook short-tenured people because they’re new to the business. First, find out if they have the interest and capacity. Let them surprise you.
- Broad demographics: Include men, women, people of color and differently-abled team members.
Successful software implementation teams don’t all look, sound or think the same. Yours should be made up of people who have the aptitude, who are available, provide credible assurance that the work will be done and who represent an assortment of experience and different perspectives.
If you can assemble a team that includes these qualities, you’ll have brought your software implementation a lot closer and will have created a group of people that can truthfully represent end users, other HR team members and the technical standards of your organization.
Trudy V.M. Gygi is a senior consultant in the Human Capital and Benefits Software Delivery practice at Willis Towers Watson.