Realising the benefits

In
our third and final look at e-HR Transformation, Martin Reddington, Mark
Withers and Mark Williamson look at how to realise the project benefits

Over the past two weeks, the authors of Delivering Value from HR
Transformation have highlighted key areas that should be addressed when
embarking on e-HR transformation: developing a shared vision for HR
transformation, and securing stakeholder commitment. This final article in the
series looks at how to realise the benefits. The authors have developed their
thinking through practical experience of working with a wide range of
organisations on HR transformation.

Introduction

The various stakeholders are committed to the project, the networks of
change agents are buzzing, and even the overall project sponsor has
demonstrated their commitment by a variety of means, usually involving some
public demonstration of faith in the new way of working. Now there is the
pressure of expectation as people wait for the benefits promised in the
business case and during the interviews and workshops.

Benefits come in all shapes and sizes; they can be delivered at different
times during the lifecycle of the project (for example, ‘quick wins’ well
before the project goes live). It should go without saying that their
appearance as a result of your initiative will make the difference between your
becoming a hero, or the person that the finance director is very keen to share
a ‘few moments of your time’ with.

Getting the benefits to stick

Take time early on in the development of the business case to identify and
define where you are now, as tightly as you can. This often means concentrating
on the ‘tangible’ benefits (ie, those that can be costed – ‘this will deliver
£x savings in year one, and will cost £y to implement’) rather than the
‘intangible’ benefits (ie ‘now that HR people have got the line managers to do
that, we’ll all have a lot more time to be more strategic’).

You’ll get some sort of baseline measurement to show how you are performing
at the moment. It is important to capture this during the work on the business
case, because things change as soon as you start the project.

Ask the people/business units who will receive benefits, to take ownership
of that baseline data. As benefits start to be delivered, those owners may need
reassuring that the changes they are seeing are to be viewed in the context of
other things happening elsewhere simultaneously, usually in different
programmes or initiatives. This is especially true if benefits are delayed, or
are not as great as expected. They will also be able to give you first-hand accounts
of any real impact.

You do have a plan, don’t you?

All measurement and evaluation should be matched against your ‘benefits
realisation plan’ so that not only do you understand what the measures are, but
so that you can also anticipate the implications for organisational benefit of
hitting those measures. Your plan will list what benefits are expected, at what
point in the implementation they are expected, the level they are expected at,
and the measure that will identify this.

As a result, you may expose gaps in what you expected to be delivered
compared with what is actually delivered, and this should be taken as an
opportunity for further work; for example, after the project has gone live.

There may be unexpected benefits, too. You will also develop an idea of
areas where you can get additional benefits with a relatively small amount of
work. Consider the plan becoming an ongoing benefits realisation plan, and make
sure someone owns it after the project team has disbanded.

Sustaining benefits

What you do immediately after the launch is of great importance in benefit
terms. Here are some suggestions:

– Ongoing measurements

Continue to measure benefits post-implementation, so that doing so becomes
part of how the ‘new’ HR function evaluates itself and demonstrates the value
it adds.

– Remove the old ways

If you allow old systems or even habits to remain, users will revert to
them, however well intentioned they may have seemed during planning. For example,
if you are trying to implement an online approach to changing staff details
through the self-service system, but someone still accepts the old faxed forms,
the change will not stick. If details continue arriving by fax, there should be
an automatic response to point out the change, reminding people that they were
informed and had signed up to the new way of working.

Using an incremental approach, you can also remove the old processes in a
systematic and planned way, not a reactive one, which is a powerful
demonstration that something has changed permanently.

– Seek sponsorship/leadership

You should ask for leadership from the top, so your sponsor and their PA
needs to be scrupulous about using the new tools and functionality.

– Continue training after the launch

Don’t be afraid to refresh the learning as you go through – training
shouldn’t be cancelled within a week of the launch. People need a couple of
goes to embed it, and need to know the new system is working before they will
fully embrace it. This is especially true of managers, so it is good to plan
refresher courses.

Conclusion

By the time you reach the end of the project, you will have realised that it
is not the project itself that delivers benefit, it is the new ways or working
that produce the benefit. This is even more true in HR than in some other
functions in the business. Make sure your people are on board, have signed up
to own and receive the benefits, and you will give yourself the best possible
chance during that chat with the finance director.

About the experts

Martin Reddington

Research Associate at Roffey Park and CEO of Martin Reddington
Associates. He was formerly e-HR Transformation Programme Director at Cable
& Wireless

Mark Withers

Managing director of Mightywaters Consulting and has supported
HR transformation projects in a number of large organisations including
National Grid Transco, Cable & Wireless and Barclaycard

Mark Williamson

Member of the leadership team at Partners for Change and has
undertaken assignments for a wide variety of organisations including
AstraZeneca and the Inland Revenue

Missed parts 1 and 2 of this series?

www.personneltoday.com/goto/22988
www.personneltoday.com/goto/23098

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