What makes a (HRIS) transformation project a success?

A transformation project has hit all the deadlines. It has gone through launch and the hyper-care period and any major teething problems have almost all been ironed out. And yet, the atmosphere around the new tool seems negative. You’re hearing bad impressions on the grapevine and there are whispers starting that the new tool - which took so much time and many resources to implement, which was carefully selected as the best option for the company only so recently - (whisper it) “might be about to be replaced”.

After the buzz of the launch and the rollout has died down, people start to discover that the data doesn’t seem quite right, that there are errors, that people aren’t happy… And suddenly everyone is asking for exceptions or giving reasons why they won’t use the system. Suddenly everyone is disappointed (or feels validated, if they were against it from the start) that “the system is not solving all the problems you thought it would”.

How can you avoid this negative outcome, that makes successful adoption and using the tool in the best way an added challenge? Addressing the following elements may not guarantee complete success, as there are many other business factors involved that are outside the control of the project. However, addressing them as early and repeatedly as possible can make a successful project outcome much more likely.


The end users don’t feel that they have joint ownership of the tool. They don’t see the new system as an integral part of organising and managing their job. They see it as another layer of administrative work that takes them away from adding value to the business and completing other added value activities.

This could be because HR administrators don’t like automated processes or HR business partners think it makes them ‘just administrators’. It could be because Managers don’t see a 1-minute system activity as a good use of their time. That’s why it’s important to run a communication and engagement plan at all levels, explaining the benefits that the system will bring, “only if it is used properly”.

A system doesn’t replace human interaction and blocks in processes can make human relationships worse when frustration arises. But a well-functioning system can save time and enhance relationships when it leaves everyone with more time to have human conversations that matter or provide strategic benefit.

New system implementation projects often focus on the benefits for the business (cost, time, resources) but how does this translate into changes and benefits for the day-to-day users who are responsible for ensuring good quality data goes in and need to feel motivated to do this?


A change management plan can often be seen as one-way communication only. Whilst planning what messages you need to transmit to which audience and when, is crucial, you also need to think about the channels your audience has for communicating back to the project leaders.

If the only communication channel open to the end-user is the first training session, then you can expect to need time during the training for participants to express themselves and explain their concerns about the new ways of working. It is essential to allow the end-users opportunities to express their concerns as the project develops, and to show them that you have taken their feedback onboard.

It might not change the way things are done but if they can start to see you are listening and there are reasons behind certain decisions, it will help to move people towards acceptance and ultimately, you hope, to them championing the tool.


It’s so important for the many people in the project teams to know they are working towards the same ends and to know when crucial decisions need to be made that everyone will be clear on what they need to do. It helps if the governance structure also listens to feedback from the different parties and analyses what they can do about it.

There is no point asking people for feedback if people feel they are simply ignored. Feeling listened to is an important part of the change process and clarity of responsibilities can allow people to focus on what they can control and bring the best outcomes to their area of responsibility, knowing they have support from other project streams.


Digital success is driven by human success. The people responsible for each part of the project take pride in their outputs and know that when they help others to succeed, it benefits the whole team.

Success feeds of information being shared, which requires mutual respect and listening to all voices in the project team- and in the wider organisation. The highest performing projects also operate in an environment where there is no fear of failure.

Agile methods allow team members to propose a course of action and if it doesn’t work, they can pivot in a new direction knowing something useful has been learnt and without suffering penalties for trying.


The technical experts know their stuff, the day-to-day HR users have a certain way of working, the project managers know what needs to be done, senior management know what they expect to see at the end of the project.

But all these parties do not necessarily speak the same language, and may not have the time needed to take a step back and see everything from another person’s view point.

A great Business Analyst has the mandate to see the bigger picture and understand the various points of view. They can understand the concerns of the end users, the pressure on the project team, the system constraints and the global governance structure and bring everything together for a successful end result. 

Any questions? A project in mind? Contact us here and let's talk !

Olivia SINEL

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