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What’s the Key to Successfully Launching Timekeeping and Payroll Management Systems? People.

By Michael Sponhour, Molly Hood, and Leslie Heilman

The global workforce management software market is expected to keep growing strongly, with annual gains of eight percent forecast through 2025, according to ReportLinker. Employers continue to adopt these platforms for good reasons. Workforce management systems streamline back-office payroll operations and improve employee satisfaction by making it easy to clock in, request vacation and check leave balances.

Working through the technical and human challenges to launch modern timekeeping and attendance systems is the difference between a system that delivers on its intended value and one at risk for becoming shelf-ware. Through various successful time and payroll management projects in both public and private sectors, delivering change management best practices is always necessary but the following concepts have an outsized impact on software implementation that impacts how work gets done.

Critical Tactics for Payroll Implementations

It Starts with Senior Leadership.  Research consistently shows that active executive sponsorship is the single biggest key to any successful change. Launching a new time and payroll platform is big change, so it is crucial that the executive leadership team champion the initiative and make clear that the move to a new time and pay system is an organizational priority.

Frontline Managers are Key.  First-level managers need to approve employee timesheets and leave requests – and explain to  teams in the field why the new system will be better. Get employees on board early and  give them the tools to be successful as system users and advocates.

Make Sure Human Resources and IT are Ready. Employees having trouble with the new system will need support quickly and it is critical that HR and IT be well-versed in the processes and system. Ensure that employees receive in-depth training, have prepared answers to frequently asked questions, and can collect and share their learnings as they continue to respond to inquiries. Set clear expectations for how employees can find support, so they feel confident about who to ask. Expect that employees will have questions about leave and attendance policies (even if these have not changed) and position the HR team to respond to these inquiries.

Critical Tactics for Any Technology Implementation (including timekeeping and payroll)

Foster a Strong Partnership Between Change and Project Managers. As with most technical implementations, making sure that formal project and change plans are coordinated is a critical step to a smooth payroll implementation. It is also important to translate technical language about business processes into plain language that frontline employees can understand and implement.

Include Training and Knowledge Transfer. Employees have strong incentive to engage with your new payroll platform – it’s how they get paid! To keep teams from being overwhelmed with questions at go-live, make sure to give employees the knowledge they need to use the new tools effectively. That means not just offering robust training but ensuring that a critical mass of employees engages before launch. You can support the change after the project by ensuring helpful materials are readily available to employees for quick access when they’re in a pinch.

Don’t Forget Other Stakeholders (Change Advocates). Employees need to see someone outside of management that they trust advocating for the new system and using it. Establish a network of representatives from all impacted business groups, who can influence employee adoption and acceptance, and who others turn to for information. Involve these representatives in experiencing the process and system first through user testing and training pilots and have them share back their experiences and other important project information with others. When it comes to timekeeping for employees, immediate assistance is crucial. Developing a workforce that is integrated with key influencers can make a huge difference in sustaining the change.

Reinforce the Change. Consider positioning administrative assistants and key support staff as continuous change advocates in their teams. Ask them to promote ongoing training opportunities and support. Check with them to ask for informal feedback and get a pulse on how users are adopting the system. This will help you adjust ongoing change efforts, respond to unexpected challenges, and empower the organization to stay committed to the change.

About the authors: Michael Sponhour, Molly Hood, and Leslie Heilman are organizational change consultants with Avaap. Avaap’s change management practice is powered by Prosci® and designed to help organizations incorporate a deliberate approach to managing change to the people, process, and technology aspects of transformation innovation.