There is no doubt that making a switch in payroll vendors and going through an implementation process is daunting. You are dealing with sensitive information that requires extreme attention to detail to ensure all employees get paid correctly, making the process even more intimidating. Fortunately, there are several tips and best practices we have compiled in our years of experience implementing hundreds of client accounts to make your payroll implementation go as smooth as possible. These are presented in no particular order.
1) Stakeholder Availability
Often, key decision makers involved in the vendor selection process are also involved in the implementation process and are therefore privy to what the process will entail. Once the contract is signed, however, some decision makers step away and additional staff joins the implementation process. At this point, ensuring that all participants have the necessary availability becomes crucial. It is important to clearly identify who will be involved and asses their current bandwidth. Going through an implementation has time-sensitive tasks and the people involved must have the flexibility to set aside their current work to prioritize the payroll deadlines.
If you realize that extra help is needed, an implementation process can become an opportunity to recruit internal or external qualified candidates who have an interest in joining the team and help fill the gaps. Internal employees can be cross-trained to assist with simpler tasks such as gathering required information, cleaning up data, or develop documentation for new processes being established during the implementation process.
2) Project Management Mentality
In order to have a successful outcome, the implementation must be viewed with a project management mentality. Both ends should establish primary points of contact for certain tasks. These key contacts should take on a very hands-on approach and take complete ownership of their part of the project. With larger companies, more people are typically involved, which means these key contacts might have to take on a leadership role to ensure their team is completing tasks on time to keep the process flowing smoothly.
3) Change Management
There are two key aspects to change management: identifying resistance internally and examining existing processes. If there is internal resistance to change and are hearing things like “why are we changing it, this is how we have always done it,” it is critical to address it and clearly communicate the reasons and objectives behind implementing a new system. Keeping everyone up to date on the progress and how these changes have improved things has the ability to diminish resistance and increase buy in.
Implementing a new system will likely involve changing existing processes and procedures to adapt to the capabilities of a new software. As technology improves, new software processes and tools are developed to improve processes. The implementation process is a time to question existing process and allow change to happen. Is this the best way of doing this? How can this new system help us be effective and efficient? Take this opportunity to ask your implementation team for input on a new process. They are experts on their system and can provide advice for new workflows based on your company policies. Communicating new processes that make work more efficient to the rest of the team is a way to increase enthusiasm and peak people’s interest of what other things can be changed for the better.
4) Establish Timeline
Establishing a timeline is one of the first and most important pieces of a successful payroll implementation. A timeline can be used as a concrete roadmap on how you will get from point A to point B. This is where expectations from both parties should be addressed and established. Milestones should be defined and used as checklist to allow a clear assessment of what has been completed throughout the process. Both sides should stick to this plan and continually provide updates when milestones are met.
It goes without saying that communication is the common thread among all these tips and is the cornerstone of a successful payroll implementation. Communication needs to be consistent, transparent, and should always include people who need to keep a pulse on how things are going. Both ends should be continually addressing comments, questions, and concerns to prevent small things from escalating to an issue.
Although attending required training sessions to achieve a successful payroll implementation is an obvious one, we’d like to highlight how training is beneficial. Live training sessions are designed to maximize attentiveness and engagement. Although it can be tempting to skip a team training when you know a recording will be available to view at a later time, the effectiveness and retention of your training can be greatly diminished. Attending live training sessions improves attentiveness and provides the ability to quickly and easily ask relevant questions that pop into your mind as you’re going through the new system.
Leveraging additional training resources that go beyond the basic payroll implementation training is another way to elevate and enhance your implementation process. Aside from getting the most value out of your system, there’s the potential to uncover new system features and functionality your new system has to improve your processes.
The core component of an implementation process is the migration of data from the old system to the new one. If you’ve worked with data before, you know the importance of having clean and accurate data to avoid the “garbage in, garbage out” cliché. This process can be started even before you make your final vendor selection by removing data that is no longer needed, filling in missing information, and checking the quality or validity of it.
As you move along the process, your implementation specialist will likely have you review and validate data that is being imported into your system to ensure accuracy. Completing these time-sensitive tasks in a timely manner is essential to having employees be paid correctly on the first payroll run.
If you made it through these 7 tips, it is likely you are considering going through a payroll implementation. Contact Us to learn more about our Human Capital Management and the customer service we pride ourselves on. Feel free to download the additional resource below as well!