Implementing a new payroll software solution can be particularly challenging; if but for no other reason than it impacts every single employee. No matter what role or level, everyone within (and some without) the organization will have an interest in the changes being made. An essential precursor to the implementation project is the identification of the broad range of interests and then to use that information to guide the supporting communication and engagement strategy.
Why Conduct a Payroll Stakeholder Analysis?
A white paper from SNP Consulting, Payroll Implementation, offers a warning against insufficiently reviewing stakeholder concerns; stating that “assumptions will have been made about the capabilities of the product, which will most surely be exposed during implementation.” Such exposure results in mistakes, user disappointment, and a low adoption rate. The use of a structured stakeholder analysis model can avoid these consequences. More specifically, the advantages of including stakeholders early in the payroll software journey are:
A better understanding of how different interest groups can affect the project;
Real engagement at different levels of the organization, resulting in a smoother implementation;
An increase in early adoption rates for transactional features such as manager and employee self-service;
Reassurance of genuine concerns within the workforce concerning the changes and possible ‘teething troubles’ (which in payroll terms often means late payment of salary or other compensation); and
The early identification of potential problems with processes, workflows or technical issues, enabling their solution prior to the scheduled go-live date.
Who are the Payroll Stakeholders?
Clearly it is not enough to acknowledge that everybody has a ‘stake’ in the new payroll software. A level of detail and discernment of group interests will enable the creation of a truly bespoke implementation program. In a series of articles on e-HR transformation, Personnel Today magazine emphasizes, “At the start of the stakeholder engagement process, it is useful to construct a view of the stakeholder population so that these individuals, groups or business units can be characterized in terms of their importance to the change process, and how they might be affected by it.” Using a simple matrix of ‘interest’ versus ‘power’, different stakeholder groups can be mapped according to two straightforward questions:
INTEREST - What does the group need from the payroll software project and what does the project need from them?
POWER - What degree of control or influence is the group able to exercise over the project?
High power / High interest – these groups are a primary focus of the engagement strategy, their satisfaction – and therefore support – is crucial to the project’s success.
High power / Low interest – even though they may have little to do with the implementation, the satisfaction of these groups is important in order to ensure that they do not wield their power to the project’s detriment.
Low power / High interest – including the end users of the much of the software’s functionality, though these groups are unlikely to derail the implementation process, their high level of interest can be leveraged to engage their help in ironing out essential details
Low power / Low interest – these groups will probably require the least input and effort during the project but contact should be maintained as their different perspective may offer the occasional valuable insight..
What are Payroll Stakeholders interested in?
Having mapped the stakeholders according to their level of power and interest, it is the detail of their specific interests (especially the ‘high power’ groups) that should be used to inform the project plan. The Personnel Today article highlights, “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.” In other words, members of the C-suite are crucial backers for payroll implementation. Their interest in strategic concerns, organization-wide business improvements and bottom line profitability should be the frame for project interactions with this group. Other likely stakeholder groups and interests include:
Employees – probably the opposite of the C-level with more ‘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;
HR – interests stem from the responsibilities for accurate record-keeping, statutory compliance, and also the training needs of employees in the use of the new software;
Accounting & Payroll – in-house payroll personnel will feel the most fundamental impact on their working lives as a shift to integrated payroll software both frees them from many manual administrative tasks but also places greater expectations on them;
IT – depending on the deployment option (e.g. on-premises or SaaS), IT will raise various technical advisory issues, including hardware/software conflicts, data security, and access;
Procurement – interests will hark back to the purchasing process and will be primarily procedural and budgetary; i.e. value for money;
Customers – although there is no direct effect on the end-users of the organization’s products or services, any impact on the performance of the above groups can ultimately be felt by the customer and will therefore affect profitability and organizational performance;
State and federal governments – the various legislation that demands mandatory reporting on payroll matters will place some non-negotiable parameters on the project.
The Payroll Stakeholder Bottom Line
Before formulating change management or payroll software training strategies, clarity is required on the varied interests and concerns of different stakeholder groups (and the different leverage that they can each bring to bear on the direction of the project). By working with such a clear picture, implementation managers and consultants can navigate the “people” waters as well as the technical; and install a system that not only functions correctly, but is also embraced by users-drastically reducing your new payroll system’s time-to-value.
Having mapped the stakeholders according to their level of power and interest, it is the detail of their specific interests (especially the ‘high power’ groups) that should be used to inform the project plan.”