HRMS: Lessons learned “the project from hell” – Jan 2015

HRMS: The Project Specs

What is HRMS, Human Resource Management System?  Think of this as a mini Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system specific to the Human Resource department. Initially, we wanted to put a system in place that could take over the payroll portion of our HR department but the requirements snowballed from there. Soon the project requirements grew to a system that would incorporate payroll, benefits, recruiting, employee training, tracking goals, self and peer evaluations. Essentially, the desire from the team was a one-stop, turn key solution for an incredibly small human resource department. A very tall order, on a small budget!

Mistakes and missteps:

After months of research and system demos we finally landed on the tool we thought would be ‘the one.’ Human Resources, Recruiting, the management team and myself met to review the tool and it was agreed that the tool, while not perfect, fit the requirements.   All was going smoothly with the project until the implementation started. My mistake #1: With the tool we selected we were unable to get a hands on “live” demo of the tool. Any meeting with the company for demo included canned data. The vendor we worked with also drove this process instead of allowing us to get into the drivers seat and try the tool on for size, so to speak. My mistake #2: Simply put, when we started asking for modifications and adjustments of the tool, I didn’t use my voice enough with the vendor. Salesmen promises and pushed deadlines meant that our requested changes were pushed off and even not completed after officially implementing the HRMS tool.

Timeline & Results:

The bulk of this project was covered over about a 9 month period with some strides, setbacks and frustrations.  Trying to place five pounds of sand in a two pound bag is never a good idea and I think that statement sums up this project quite well. Instead of finding a tool that would compliment the processes already in place at our business, or even, easily adjust to accommodate them, we were essentially trying to shape this tool around our current processes. I know there are many tools out there that are quite customizable, this particular tool, is not.  Simply put it is WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get).

My thoughts:

I’ve lost more than a few nights sleep over this project. I question whether tweaking one thing or another might have given us a better result, or if more support both internally and from the vendor could have reduced our bumps along the way.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure that any of that would have changed the outcome. If facing this type of project in the future I definitely feel more prepared for the struggles and challenges as well as the pitfalls of attempting to fit a square peg into a round hole! I hope to have an opportunity in the future to work on a similar project, as I believe I now have quite a unique perspective to the particular pains of a “one size fits all” solution!