Tammy Downey

Executive Sponsor: A Power Component of Your System Implementation Team

Want to know one of the easiest ways to predict the success (or failure) of an HR consulting project before it even officially begins? Look at the project team. Who’s on it and what is their commitment to the HR project as a whole? Implementing a new HR and payroll system is no easy feat. The project comes with a myriad of twists and turns. Building a team that is knowledgeable, capable, and hardworking is one of the key components to a successful implementation or activation.

Think carefully and strategically about your team. No two project teams are exactly the same because no two organizations or projects are the same.  We typically encourage organizations to include their HR and payroll professionals (the people most impacted by the change), an executive-level leader, and when appropriate, marketing and IT. Be mindful that by including someone on your team you’re adding to their daily tasks – by using a client-side implementation consultant like Willory, you can help alleviate some of that additional stress, keeping workload much more manageable. While the project is important, you don’t want to burn out good employees at the expense of completion.

Focus

HR projects can easily be derailed for many reasons including time commitment needed from project members, major organization-wide initiatives, scope creep (when an HR project’s scope becomes more than intended), and outside factors. An executive sponsor should help maintain focus when it’s needed and to keep projects from getting out of control.

Success Factors

When the HR project is done, what will success look like? How does it impact the organization as a whole? The executive sponsor needs to guide the project in ways that ultimately help and are strategically aligned with the organization. They need to be able to understand the end-goal of the HR project and validate the success factors.

Investment

Putting in a new HR system is an investment. It’s an investment of money and resources – that’s right, people’s time. You’ve already budgeted for the new system, but what happens when our project requires more than you initially thought to do it properly or other departments question your spend? You need a person at the executive level able to understand and communicate about how and why the money is being spent.

Relationships

The executive sponsor/leader of an HR project needs to build relationships with everyone – project team, C-suite, executives at vendor, partner firm, and sometimes some other key people. These relationships are integral to getting the HR project to the finish line. There may be times where these relationships or the executive’s power position will have to be leveraged to ensure the end result is the best one for the organization.

Final Decision

Because a new HRIS impacts the organization at-large you need someone who not only understands the business needs of the company, but someone who is capable of making those impactful and important decisions. Often we see the project team split on how to best approach a component of the project. Having the executive sponsor “plugged in” saves time and helps ensure an answer that is best.

Change Management

Change is difficult. Employees often times don’t like having to change a process they’ve done for years, even if the ultimate goal is to make their lives better and easier. You’ll need someone in a top-level position to unify the company under one vision and promote the change it in a positive way.

When selecting and working with an executive sponsor, make sure they are all in. At the minimum they have to be involved in the steering committee for the project. They have to be willing to make the right investment in time and resources in order to make things happen.  If you don’t have someone on staff, Willory offers HR consulting services to fill that role.

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