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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (well, the Talent Forum anyway)!!!

“Wow the graphics were so awesome…you see who fills what Position, what their Competency match to the Position is, linked to a performance history! You could even see which other Positions are available and what the Competency match to these Positions were. Heck, we could even see which Learning Paths offered the best options to grow them to fit our critical Positions faster! Not even talking about seeing the percentile pay fit for each Position in this unit and what that fit is by peer comparison! This is what makes HR strategic…beautiful!

All true…so we bought the licenses and started the technical journey to get there ASAP. On track with the thinking? J

And, life is what happened while we are still trying to get there…3 years later…frustrated and tired, technology being blamed, poor purchase decision, no or very limited return on investment and HR further alienated from the business. Partnership is a dream and the business is tired of empty promises! L”

Heard it all before?

Well what went wrong and what are the lessons learnt?

Think through a HCM implementation journey you may have experienced…here is what happens to others:

Where the purchase of HCM solutions has accelerated with numerous value-add elements being available through on-premise and cloud solutions, basically three scenarios (some poetic license on my partJ) are evident, with the last unfortunately being the most dominant L:

  1. Scenario A– the organisation realises the need to transform HR and acknowledges this is not only about technology. They realise the need to investigate and understand the following elements:
  1. HR Functional Architecture needs to be understood before any technology is deployed (actually even to be factored into the technology selection process).
  2. HR Strategy and Vision is clearly defined and mandated.
  3. Organisation Design and Development is integrated as a vital element, to ensure a true understanding of the role of the HR Partner in supporting the other business functions (they are not just administrators!).
  4. HR Policies and Processes are incorporated as critical review components, in order to understand their relevance and applicability to the operations and task environment. Failing this, the data, information, knowledge and wisdom will not be clearly contextualised and therefore its usability in decision making at different levels of accountability severely curtailed.
  5. An HR Operating Model is adopted to ensure standardisation and integration of people practices across the elements shown below:

  6. Building Core HR data to integrate transactional HR and liberate value-add elements.
  7. Change management is rigorously adopted to ensure integrated thinking in the Human Capital space, that embodies the understanding of a few (not exclusive list) of the following People Practice elements from executive through to line management:


  1. Integrated Strategic Human Capital Management;
  2. Standard Integrated People Practices (SIPP®);

III.      Information Technology and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) which every Human Capital Practitioner should know.


  1. Scenario B:
  1. We are in the process of implementing the HCM solution. Our business is so unique and the technology vendor and/or their technology implementation partner gladly start the customisation process to satisfy our requirements…they are so accommodating and so technologically competent. We trust them but:


  1. How will they impact on the platform upgrades to later versions of the same software? Do you understand the effort and related cost?
  2. How will this impact on the cost of maintaining these wonderful customisations, which seem to meet our unique requirements?

III.      What happens when key people on the project leave the organisation? Who really understands what we did here and more importantly why we did it?

  1. Do we really think that these unique adaptions will give us a competitive edge?
  2. What is the real opportunity cost involved?
  3. Are we weighing up the cost of change with the true cost of ownership?
  4. Do we really understand the impact and relationship between policy, process and information? Is the real competitive edge not coming from making informed decisions based on good quality data vs customised processes and data models?
  5. Are our HC professionals equipped to understand the new demands placed on them through HCM, or are they outsourcing this accountability? This cost is far higher than monetary. Reputation is at stake. Our clients cannot and will not wait any longer.


  1. Scenario C:
  1. We totally lost the plot, the HCM solution went live, payroll is running – thanks for small mercies, but with lots of journals though at month end, as we simply cannot get the structures to talk to the financial general ledger.
  2. Both the HC and Line of Business are extremely disillusioned with the overpromise and under delivery, finger pointing is wide-spread and yes, some heads have rolled (with more to follow).
  3. HR is still not seen as the strategic player it could (and should be) at board level but in the end…

By: Tony Cohn


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