The most common mistake companies make before embarking on a technology implementation or modernisation project is to solicit bids from vendors prior to developing a blueprint or requirements specification. Integrated people management solutions (IPMS) are no different. From our experience, the following is the result of failing to create a blueprint:
* The 'bigger picture' is missed.
* True requirements are not understood.
* Business objectives are not met.
Bigger picture missed
By approaching vendors before the business requirements have been defined, it is assumed that the scope of the project is limited to whatever functions the vendor’s solution covers. Enterprise-wide requirements and synergies are not considered and explored. This can result in some business functions from being incorrectly excluded from the scope. This leads to implementing standalone technology that is inadequate – forcing the company to either replace the technology at some later stage or develop customised solutions that are expensive to maintain.
For example, take an access control and HR solution that is not centralised. A contractor could be banned from one site preventing that person from entering that specific site. He/she then leaves his position at the contracting company and applies for a position at the main company at another site – effectively providing the same person access to the same company. A centralised security/people management solution would prevent this from happening.
Requirements not understood
By not spending the time to define your IPMS business’s requirements, the decision makers do not have a clear and complete picture of the complete set of requirements. Having the right people involved during the design phase can make sure all requirements are considered. For example, your company might have an access control solution and a time and attendance solution. The access control function could typically reside with the IT department or security manager, while the time and attendance function resides with the operations or HR manager. By not involving the right people upfront, one could miss the opportunity to re-use current infrastructure like the access control readers and apply it for the time and attendance solution. There would then be an opportunity to integrate these solutions.
It is clear that not conducting a proper blueprinting process can lead to internal conflict between business process owners. It also leads to false perceptions of what the real requirements are (with warped priorities). This could result in paying for and implementing technology that is not needed or will not work in the specific business environment.
Business objectives not met
A very important step during the blueprint phase of an IPMS solution is to first align the business requirements with the company’s HCM, risk management and IT strategy and objectives. Aligning the requirements to meet these objectives would go a long way to understand and prioritise which systems or technology is required.
Based on perceived requirements, the wrong vendors are involved in the beginning and a lot of time is wasted by both the vendors and their prospective clients. For example, if the security manager wants to upgrade the access control system, he/she could solicit vendors only providing security solutions. After many meetings with the prospective vendors and the security manager, the HR manager becomes involved in the process and then adds their requirements. The need for a wider solution has now been identified, which may require the company to engage with different vendors altogether.
Unclear or vague requirements also results in:
* Many back and forth communication and clarification meetings.
* Inconsistent communication between prospective vendors, resulting in confusion.
* Incorrect responses from vendors resulting in incorrect findings during the evaluation process.
Unclear or undefined requirements can also lead to a very subjective vendor selection process. A vendor’s weaknesses can be played down by internal process owners and vendors since the requirements are not precise or sometimes not even defined at all.
Performing a proper blueprint design for your IPMS function before embarking on a vendor selection process is essential to having a successful technology implementation. It saves time, reduces frustration, improves the adoption rate and is a lower risk approach to ensure that business objectives are met, whilst delivering sustainable solutions.
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