20 Tips for Your HR Digital Transformation

If you could have the insight to predict challenges and mitigate risks before embarking on any journey, wouldn’t you do so?

Having the foresight to plan for not only what you know, but what you don’t know and having the fortitude and flexibility to be nimble and agile is key to preparing for a successful digital transformation.

HR digital transformation is not just about replacing outdated technology.

The expectation businesses have today, to warrant an investment in HR technology, must serve as an ongoing destination for employees that encourages continual usage, provides a platform that enables them to manage their work, plan their careers, develop new skills and support changes in their personal lives, all on an ongoing basis. Additionally, today’s systems must also transform data across multiple sources – HR, ERP, external networks, machine data, IoT – into actionable insight to plan, measure, and predict.

After helping hundreds of organizations manage through their HR transformation journey, here are 20 tips and lessons learned.

1. Develop a comprehensive business case to gain buy in and budget approval from the C-suite and stakeholders.

2. Conduct due diligence, spending time evaluating and assessing and finally selecting a cloud solution provider and implementation partner.

3. Provide detailed project planning for the implementation and change management phases, inclusive of comprehensive communication, testing and training plans.

4. Gain commitment from HR, business partners and IT resources to assigned project tasks.

5. Be visionary. The future is ahead of you, learn from the past. Someone very wise once told me, ‘the future is ahead of you, learn from the past, but recognize it’s behind you, you can’t go back in time and change course.’ This is why the windshield in a car is so large, as compared with the rear-view mirror being so small! Think with a future state mindset but use proven planning tools and methods, practice continuous communication and operate with agility.

6. Think about what you are striving to accomplish. How do you envision the future state? In the early planning phase, identify key measures of success and KPIs. What are the critical milestones along the way and how will you measure your progress? Identify, measure, recognize and celebrate the completion of each key milestone.

7. Establish regular communication for greater impact. It helps to builds trust, expedites reaching agreement on common goals and decisions, and creates motivation.

8. It’s all about you and your organization’s vision and goals, so own it! Take a seat at the table. Be present and accountable. It’s your transformation after all, you and your organization will be left with the result.

9. Utilize advisors and consultants for their expertise, their knowledge of best practices and innovative technologies. Consultants and advisors don’t run your business and they can’t make decisions for you, they can only suggest recommendations.

10. Embrace change and foster a culture of agility that rewards innovation. Adopt an agile approach to the design and delivery of changes impacting people, processes and technology. Take iterative steps, leverage a prototype and pilot an approach for quick wins. Encourage adoption, strive for inclusion and get feedback at all levels of the organization.

11. Take ownership of the future, leverage new methodologies to foster and create new roles, identify and train resources, manage the service providers, manage innovation to technology, continually test and communicate.

12. Identify, recognize and embrace changes to your operating model. Provide oversight and guidance with a comprehensive governance framework to manage change requests and decision making. Enable all levels of the organization with continued communication and training.

13. Take advantage of design thinking solution driven methodologies to help the organization view, enable and adopt the future state organization. Design thinking uses personas to help define and enable new user experiences (including usability and user interaction) and leverages use cases to validate streamlined processes and adoption of enabling technologies.

14. Develop skills at all levels. Skills development is a must have in this process. No amount of technology will make a difference unless you enable people to work in new ways. Start by honestly reviewing your own skills and investing in your own personal development, then establish a culture where professional development is encouraged and recognized.

15. Leaders need to take the lead. Leaders must demand change and be the first to adopt new ways of working and do so visibly. From the top ranks of the organization down, C-suite and board levels must be enthusiastic and practice agility. Be willing to pivot, to change and adapt, to fail and move on. Actions speak louder than words. When the top people in the business are reluctant to change, how can they ask and expect change from their people?

16. Remember it’s all about the journey, not the destination.

17. Strive for continuous improvement. After the initial technology implementation phase, continue to update KPI’s and assess your organizational strengths and challenges. Continuous improvement is part of the journey and always about building a better mousetrap that will increase value.

18. Cultivate a climate of learning and improvement; recognize there will be some setbacks, and learn from mistakes. Do not punish individuals willing to take on uncharted tasks that may result in unplanned outcomes, as their experiences will serve as lessons learned and invaluable to the organization. Furthermore, it will encourage employees to take on new and innovative projects in the future. Foster a culture where Innovation and drive are rewarded.

19. Visible encouragement from the C-suite through all levels of the organization will engage and ignite your workforce and move the needle forward for your organization. This will serve as a recipe for success for all phases of your HR transformation and future endeavors.

20. And finally, embrace the future and enjoy the journey!

The best run companies have two things in common: good leadership and talent that is connected to their company’s purpose to drive phenomenal results. Download the Oxford Economics report, 4 Ways Leaders Set Themselves Apart, and discover how SAP SuccessFactors can help you on your digital transformation journey.

Veronica Newton is an HR value advisor for SAP SuccessFactors