Top 10 success factors for implementing new software

Creating a data map can help with a smooth transition

The decision has been finalized and new payroll software is ready to launch within the organization. Now, it’s time to focus on how to best approach the implementation. Taking the following measures can greatly increase the chances of success.

1. Schedule a kick off meeting

Include the payroll team, the vendor and key stakeholders in this meeting. The purpose of the project kick off is to establish timeliness and objectives for the distinct steps in the implementation project plan, review project team member responsibilities and gather any supportive material. Any reservations should be addressed at this step in order to achieve full stakeholder participation and optimal enthusiasm.

2. Establish a detailed project plan

The prepared project plan should reflect the vendor’s implementation methodology and adapt to the resources available.
Work with the team to establish the first available start date. Determine the commitments required to reach the milestones of the project in order to keep with the goals for going live on the payroll software. Ensure the task duration, start and finish target dates and the responsibilities of each team member are included in the plan.

3. Conduct process re-engineering

Take the time to step back and review current business processes. It is possible inefficient processes may have evolved in the past and now is the perfect time to re-engineer them. Ask critical questions such as whether there is a specific reason for a manual calculation or maintenance of a duplicate set of data. Turn this into a positive outcome for the payroll department by determining if there will be an opportunity to eliminate time-consuming, redundant processes through implementation of the new software. For example, it may be possible to set up the software to automatically calculate earnings or deductions, produce previously manually compiled reports or electronically interface with other software applications to replace manual duplicate keying of data.

4. Develop a training plan

Determine the training needs of all stakeholders who will have access to the software and plan to provide these individuals with the training they will require to get the most value from the payroll software. In addition to solid payroll processing training, system set-up training should also be included. This will provide an understanding of the configuration over which the users will have control and what to consider during the initial set-up.  Reporting training should be considered as well, not only for report generation, but also as a tool for auditing the data.

5. Prepare for scenario testing

Create a sample of test employees who will represent a cross-section of the organization’s employee population. For example, a solid testing plan will include employees who are salaried, hourly, commissioned or union, have different benefit plans, and are of different gender, age and marital status. Payroll should be processed for these test employees with the results verified in detail and any necessary adjustments made to the configuration.

6. Assess existing data

Consider how much historical data is needed to convert into the new payroll software. For example, if the company has high turnover rates, it might not be beneficial to bring extensive employment insurance history into the new software. Consult with the vendor’s data conversion experts to determine the format in which the employee master and year-to-date data needs to be provided. Ensure access will still be available to any data not being converted into the new software, either in the old solution or in a viewable format, for history purposes. Now is the appropriate time to clean up all of the records so the data being converted into the new software is accurate.

7. Invest in creating your data map

Because the configuration has been designed differently from the old solution, it will interpret some of the data differently. The sample set of data deemed to be accurate will need to be mapped from the previous solution to the new one. Plan to run the year-to-date conversion process twice — once prior to parallel testing and again before it goes live. There should be no need to do this more often if the data mapping was completed. As a side note, this is also an opportune time to run T4 balancing reports on the new software as a test of accuracy.

8. Document new business processes

Capture all of the new business processes in formal documentation, as a means of establishing backup material. This effort can also serve to reinforce the learning and familiarization with the new software and act as a test script for future use.

9. Celebrate the live date

Once the first payroll has been completed on the new software, be sure to celebrate. The payroll team has worked hard to make it a success.

10. Meet for a post live review 

Schedule a meeting with the team and the vendor to discuss any outstanding items, follow-up requirements and future phases, for example, adding on an employee self-service component. Highlight the successes and review the challenges that were encountered. Document the learning points for application in any future implementation projects.

Marlo Hertling is a solution specialist for Avanti Software in Calgary. She can be reached at (403) 225-2366 ext. 229 or [email protected].

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