Making the decision to engage a workforce management solution – whether it be a VMS technology, a Managed Service Provider (MSP), an employer of record service (EOR) or any other solution – has a high potential for failure. And failure can be costly not only in terms of money and effort wasted, but also in terms of the future savings and efficiencies the organization stands to lose because key stakeholders will not want to risk failure a second time. So, how does an organization ensure effective implementations of workforce management solutions? The answer is not nearly as scary as the question. Here’s what you need to know.
Start by clearly defining and communicating the vision and goals for the workforce. There are many stakeholders involved beyond just those in charge of workforce management, so clearly enunciated goals are critically important for alignment and knowledge transfer. Goals should be stated in understandable terms – prioritized and achievable.
Identify sponsorship, both executive and functional. There are people whose approval and support will be necessary at every juncture. Executive sponsorship helps set organizational priorities and allocates resources. Whereas functional sponsorship is vital for program buy-in and adoption, as well as getting the detailed work done. It is vital to identify leaders who can make tough decisions and provide direction on how to best implement workforce management solutions to meet the program vision and goals.
Identify and authorize team members. Instill authority in those who will be involved in the implementation and make it clear to those who will be users of the system that these team members have been granted authority to make decisions. Make sure the team members you “deputize” are able to balance their day-to-day activities with their implementation responsibilities. Most importantly to this step, hold regular status “check-ins” with the core team. This provides a venue for all teams/workflows to receive updates, and when necessary, identify areas where their involvement may have been overlooked.
Fully define the solution. This means making sure the people, processes and technologies to be implemented are clear to all. Make sure the right people are empowered. Ensure their expected workflows and essential areas of responsibility are fully detailed and defined. Choose the right technology to implement after making a clear-eyed assessment of whether the proposed technology can be customized/enhanced to accommodate your unique business needs. Make a selection based on the capabilities throughout the full “lifecycle” of any proposed tool. Determine if the technology includes supportability, company stability, access to customer communities/forums, documentation, and the willingness of the provider to observe the company’s roadmap.
Build a working project plan. There are often multiple workflows and cross-functional dependencies to coordinate when implementing any workforce management solutions. Project planning helps systematically assign activities (and dependencies between them) according to timelines. It provides project milestones and of course, assigns responsibilities and ownership. A project plan will need to be flexible and adaptive, but must also maintain a focus on the essentials of project management (scope, budget, timeline, risk, etc).
Establish a roadmap. Chances are good an implementation won’t accomplish all your workforce goals at once. So plan to implement only a digestible amount of change in the beginning. Roadmaps with target dates are a great way to plan your company’s evolution.
Prepare for impact. Don’t forget that change is hard and most people reflexively avoid it if they can. In this case, they simply must not. Therefore, you must prepare them to accept it. This is done in three easy steps: Training, Training, and, more Training! After that, make sure to provide quick reference documentation and proper support. Communicate early and often. Explain current processes and how the new program either modifies or replaces the current process.
The simple act of shining the light of definition, planning and information helps dispel the fear surrounding implementation of all workforce management solutions.