Many software implementations in the public sector are unsuccessful, face many delays, or never reach their full potential. Why is that? Are they buying the wrong software? Are they using the wrong consulting firm, or is it something completely different? I had the unique opportunity to successfully implement enterprise software in a large city before working at Kronos. These experiences have led to some thoughts:
- There’s no denying that the public sector can be very complicated. The public sector isn’t just one industry. It is many industries all rolled up into a single employer. Each of those industries has distinct business needs and processes. In many cases, they may have different unions or other agreements that are unique to their specific agency. If your state, city, or county has centralized or decentralized human resources, payroll and/or finance will also have a direct impact on how you approach a new solution or project.
- Do not assume that your software vendor truly understands how to successfully deliver in the public sector. It’s important to ask vendors some clarifying questions before committing to any agreements:
- Do they have experience implementing in the public sector?
- Do they have references that you can talk to?
- Do they have subject matter experts who understand the unique challenges that come with implementations in the public sector?
When making the decision to procure a new human capital management solution, there are some steps that you can take ahead of time to be better prepared:
- Review your business processes and policies before issuing an RFP. Doing that work ahead of time will save lots of headaches down the road. Some reasons for doing this are:
- There may be policies and processes that are being used in various agencies that do not align with centralized processes.
- If you need to change policies, you will need time to go through the process of making those changes. Generally, this is not something that can be done quickly, and you would not want your project delayed as a result.
- You do not want to replicate bad processes or manual processes in your new solution. This is a great opportunity to make changes that will benefit the organization.
- Identify any blackout dates that will have an impact on your project.
- This could include things such as events, vacations, competing projects, etc. By identifying blackout dates up front, they can be incorporated into your project plan and not create unexpected delays.
- Identify your change champions in the various agencies that will be impacted by the change. These will be the people who help with change management. Make sure they’re looped in, and the process will go much more smoothly.
- Think about your training strategy. This includes things like:
- Where will the training be held? Rooms are hard to come by in the public sector, so planning will ensure that you have the proper facilities to deliver your training.
- Who will help deliver the training? Is it the trainer?
- Can you utilize interns to help with your training?
- Develop a communication strategy. The more communication, the better. With changes such as this, it is important to communicate as much information as possible. This will also assist with the change management strategy.
- Create a Steering Committee with representation from the various appropriate stakeholders.
- Establish executive sponsorship. Many times, executive sponsors may be involved during the procurement process, but not throughout the implementation. It is important to establish who has the authority to approve changes or to assist when there is a disagreement.
I am hopeful that these tips will help you as you plan your next software project. There are more items that should be a part of a comprehensive list but focusing on the basics above will give you a solid foundation from which to build your own project and implementation checklist.