The Top 10 Tips for a successful Payroll Implementation
Payroll incorporates some very sensitive data, making it critical to get right. After a contract is signed, there are many little things we can do to ensure the payroll implementation runs smoothly and most importantly ensure that the ‘employees get paid correctly’. Would you have guessed that 57% of projects fail due to ‘breakdown in communications’?
Here are my top 10 tips in no particular order that I can share from my years of experience.
1. Preparation is key
Project planning is the essence. Ask yourself the following questions; Who do we need to get involved? Do they have the bandwidth to take on this added responsibility? Are they clear on the corporate objective driving this change? Do we have the infrastructure and support to ensure the implementation will be successful? How will success be measured?
2. Managing expectations
It’s paramount to manage everyone’s expectations from the beginning. Knowing exactly what you’ll be receiving, disclosing relevant details to all people involved or impacted is key. Even with the right solution, if you haven’t set expectations properly it can cause unnecessary delays.
3. Knowledge is everything
Ensuring the implementation team has the right knowledge and resources are also key. When people leave the organisation, ensure all relevant knowledge is captured prior to their departure. Appointing new resources who don’t know the background adds risk. Having inadequate resources can lead to oversights during ‘Client Needs’, ‘Configuration’ or ‘Validation’ stages of the implementation result in delays and unnecessary rework for all involved. How can you effectively change something if you don’t know what you are currently doing? As part of the preparation phase current processes should be mapped out to determine what works well and what doesn’t.
4. Stakeholder availability
It’s important to have the right stakeholders available at the critical times with capacity to take on the additional work. Check that the project members aren’t scheduled for leave or likely to be occupied on key processing days where payroll will be their priority. Availability should be clearly outlined on the project plan which reflects the agreed deliverables obtained from the ‘Client Needs’ session(s).
5. Project management
Implementing a successful payroll system needs strong project management from both sides. Meeting the agreed goals and timelines set out on the signed off project plan is paramount. Having key single point contacts on both sides is also important. The project must have the correct support and priority within the business to ensure timeframes are met and action items are completed on time.
6. Relationship building
Working in a partnership to meet the end goal achieves so much. Any issues that arise along the way can be ironed out and everyone is on the same page with the best interest at heart. When everyone takes on the responsibility and working towards the same end goal the results are successful and enriching.
7. Change Management
A good change management framework will ensure the new payroll system is integrated into the business will very little resistance. Keeping everyone informed and talking through any concerns will ensure full stakeholder participation and enthusiasm from everyone involved and impacted by the change. Change management is a client’s responsibility and identifying the critical components is very important.
Bringing in a new payroll system allows clients to review and re-engineer their processes. It’s possible that overtime inefficient processes have evolved and now is the perfect time to question them and see how things can be improved. Allow yourself to be challenged and not rely on the old adage “we’ve always done it this way!” Make sure you also take the opportunity to document process changes and include them in the training requirements needs analysis.
8. Data Integrity/Data Quality
There’s an old IT adage that still runs true – “garbage in, garbage out”. If a legacy system has not had a good maintenance and or a data integrity policy, it may be a good time to check the quality of the data and undertake some integrity checks before it’s loaded into the new payroll system. Check for inconsistencies and inaccuracies, validate fundamental rules and cross check results. You’ll also need to map your data from the legacy system to the new system, so investing time and effort in this mapping process will always payoff! Remember it’s the employees’ salaries and leave balances impacted here – it must be right.
Underpinning all the points covered this far is ‘Communication’, regular, consistent and transparent communication. From the inception (signing the contract) right through to ‘Go Live’ and beyond, communication is the underpinning element required with every success, not just limited to payroll implementations. Keeping everyone informed from the Change Management piece through to the project taking place and the implementation itself is very important.
Another important element with communication is ensuring any EBA communication requirements are clearly called out during the Change Management review so there are no IR implications faced.
Communication with all stakeholders throughout the implementation process is crucial.
Once all the key stakeholders have been identified it’s essential that their training needs are determined. It’s important that individuals get the most value from the payroll system to ensure a successful implementation. In addition to the scheduled training offered by ADP, clients should arrange system set-up training to provide an understanding of the configuration over which users will have control as well as handover training when staff move on. Reporting training should be considered, not only for report generation but also as a tool for auditing the data.
National Implementation Manager – ADP Australia & New Zealand