Justifying new HR software

by 25 Jul 2007

Q. I’m stuck because we don’t have a system that provides me with head count, leave balances and performance management information in real-time, and I don’t know how to justify the budget for purchasing a comprehensive system. Even though it will save my team six days a month to make reports for management, my manager will say, “that’s your problem, not mine.” Do you have any tips?”

A. Many HR departments could benefit greatly from new comprehensive data handling software, but do not implement it because they have failed to convince decision-makers as to how the solution would benefit the organisation. Businesses have limited resources and unless you have a compelling business case you’ll have difficulty getting the go-ahead.

Your business case needs to address the real pain of your stakeholders. For any change to happen there are three things you need to consider when putting forward a business case: level of pain; vision of improvement; and the next step.

Your pain level is wasting six days a month, but that doesn’t impact your manager’s own KPIs. These reports get completed either way, so from your manager’s point of view, it’s not a pain. Your manager may have another pain that is indirectly related to yours. For example, your manager may want your team to analyse performance review information to develop learning and development strategies, but your team can’t assist due to a lack of resources. Linking your pain your managers pain is a way of showing the opportunity cost of your six wasted days.

There are many ways to explore the areas of pain your manager is facing. Take advantage of team meetings, or one-on-ones, and ask “Where can our team improve?”This exercise will uncover sore points for you to explore further. Once you have these points, you need to understand their impact to the rest of the organisation. The bigger the impact, the higher the level of pain and sense of urgency, the faster you will get your system. Ask yourself, “How will these points help or impact other divisions such as operations, finance, sales and senior management?”

The next focus of your business case is the vision of improvement, this is the benefits the new system will provide. For example this may be greater ability to manage leave levels or help the organisation respond to poor performance. These benefits are not limited to what the system will provide, but also extend to what the organisation will be able to achieve when armed with the appropriate tool. For example you will be able to keep contractor costs down by ensuring headcount decisions are made in a timely manner. Add to this what you will be able to achieve with six extra days a month and you start to get an extremely compelling case.

The next step is where you introduce the idea of the system that allows you to free up your six days a month. You need to ensure that the next steps are really easy and are not going to create more pain. You will need to have done a bit of homework at this stage and have looked at a few solutions that might give you what you need. Managers often choose to do nothing because sourcing and selecting a system seems difficult. Making the path to selecting the software easy will fast-track your implementation.

Once you have established a good business case you will be surprised how easy it will be to provide funding for your system. If the problem goes high enough, and wide enough, impacting more areas of the business, then the budget becomes easier to find.

By Tamar Ferhad, business service manager, Pollak Software Solutions (a division of Pollak Learning Alliance). www.pollak.com.au