Payroll Application Selection Begins With Choosing the Right Review Team
There’s no denying that the selection process for Payroll software solution is a team effort, and failing to gather the right members for that process can be disastrous. In fact, as Gartner attests, the failure to nail the people factor down right is one of the leading reasons why technology implementations so often fail to garner organization wide buy-in; foster employee engagement; come in on time; come in on budget; or achieve any sort of significant return-on-investment. As IDC analysts have cited on numerous occasions, it’s only by involving a broad cross-section of roles that these benefits can be achieved and varied stakeholder issues and concerns have any hope of being satisfied. And given the fact that CedarCrestone’s latest HR Systems Survey found fully 21% of respondents intended to change the from a payroll-only solution to an HR management system with fully integrated payroll functionality, it certainly seems as though this is an appropriate time to discuss why a multi-functional Payroll Software selection team is important and how to achieve it.
In short, the process by which these benefits are realized requires certain key roles and functions to be filled; along with careful consideration of who might be best to fill them.
Payroll Software Selection Role #1: Steering Committee
The function of the steering committee (or whatever else it may be named: project board, “inner circle”, etc.) is to make the key project decisions. Comprising senior executives, payroll experts, and management and IT representatives, the committee provides direction on alignment with business goals, budget, strategy, ROI forecasts, and ultimately will decide on the payroll solution to be purchased.
Payroll Software Selection Key Role #2: C-level Sponsor
Personnel Today magazine, in a series of articles on e-HR transformation suggests, “The biggest single contributor to success is securing the unwavering commitment of the senior change sponsors. We strongly recommend getting this in place early as a priority.” Indeed, a member of the C-suite championing the payroll software project will greatly aid visibility, necessary funding, and also offer an image of corporate credibility—making a clear statement to the organization that the project matters. In addition, the C-level sponsor should also act as a representative on the steering committee itself, providing what should be the top level of organizational leadership.
Payroll Software Selection Key Role #3: Function Representatives
Beyond the steering committee is a ‘layer’ of representatives from the organization’s different divisions/departments (i.e. sales, marketing, distribution, warehouse, and so on). These individuals are the key project contacts with the wider workforce. They feed specific concerns and business needs into the project and disseminate information and co-ordinate engagement with respective function areas. While these roles need not be formally defined, it is critical that they exist in order to feed specific concerns and business needs into the payroll application selection decision-making process.
Payroll Software Selection Key Role #4: Project Manager
Requiring a strong set of communication and project management skills, the project manager is the hands-on leader of the payroll software selection process; and in most instances the subsequent implementation of the chosen application. As such, this role should have direct accountability to the abovementioned steering committee—taking responsibility and care for all day-to-day project issues such as scope, time, budget, and quality.
Filling the payroll Software Selection Team’s Roles
Of course, once the critical roles for the payroll software selection process have been identified, the next task is to decide who externally or internally would be best to fill them. As a starting point for a payroll application selection initiative, consider who your internal stakeholder groups are—ensuring that all major groups have avenues for involvement. For example:
Accounting & Payroll: in-house payroll personnel will feel the most fundamental impact on their working lives given the fact that a newer payroll software system not only frees them from manual or rote administrative tasks but also places greater expectations on them. Still, further interests may also stem from the responsibilities for accurate record-keeping, statutory compliance, as well as the training needs of other employees in the use of the new software.
IT: depending on the deployment options being considered (e.g. on-premises or SaaS), IT stakeholders may raise a host of concerns about various technical advisory issues; including hardware/software conflicts, data security, and access;
Procurement: while a smaller group in the grand scheme of a payroll software selection project, these interests are no less important and will likely harken back to the purchasing process and be primarily concerned with procedural and budgetary factors.
Employees: focused primarily on individual, ‘transactional’ interests, including accuracy of payments and access to personal information;
Managers: similar to employees but also interested in what the reporting capabilities can tell them about their teams in relation to reward, performance and budget management;
Using External Talent for Payroll Software Selection.
Sometimes though, the internal talent is not enough; either because in-house personnel do not have sufficient experience of software selection projects or just simply that their time cannot be spared. One option for tackling the necessary issues of functional complexity and integration then is to engage the services of a payroll software consultant who can offer guidance on everything from requirements definition to data migration to full-scale project management. Selection of consultants is dealt with in detail elsewhere but an overview of the core requirements would be:
A thorough understanding of the payroll software market; in terms of both technology and terminology.
Experience with the payroll software selection process; especially considering that the purpose of using a consultant is to leverage the know-how of someone who has been tough through the selection process dozens of times.
A broad payroll automation skillset; including systems, project, and people skills.
Credibility and objectivity with stakeholders.
Potential Payroll Software Selection Team Warning Signs
Just as the project itself must be monitored, so should the project team as a vital success component be occasionally scrutinized. Axia Consulting, suggest keeping an eye out for the following signs that a project team may need ‘reinvigorating’:
Inaction due to other workloads (many team members also have their regular day job to do as well as any project work).
Loss of key project personnel either temporarily, e.g. unplanned leave, unforeseen holidays, or permanent, e.g. seconded to a different role, or leaving the company.
Predominance or undue influence of one or more individuals.
Selecting the Payroll Software Selection Team—Final Thoughts
Admittedly, a payroll software selection project team that has been diligently selected and is made up of the right membership mix and leadership may not necessarily see success. Be that as it may, the absence of these elements will almost certainly secure failure. Yes, this due diligence of sorts may be time-consuming, but assembling a well-balanced and representative team to drive the selection (and implementation) stages of bringing in a new payroll solution will pay dividends down the road. And considering the benefits of increased employee and managerial buy-in; improved usage rates; and the strengthening of the likelihood for early ROI, that to me is time well spent.
Benefits such as organization-wide buy-in, employee engagement, and achievement of a sizeable return-on-investment (ROI) can all be met by simply having the right people in the right place at the right time."