Prepare for a Successful HR SaaS Transformation


You’ve done the hard work: selected your new software as a service (SaaS) platform, signed the contract and even begun the configuration work. You’re ready to enter the brave new world of fully integrated data, intuitive self-service and automatic functionality updates, but that voice in your head keeps asking, “What am I missing?”

Though HR SaaS systems have many benefits, buyers need to be aware that successful human resource (HR) delivery requires more than plugging in the latest human capital management (HCM) platform. To get real HR transformation, be sure to include these Top 5 broader components in your comprehensive business case and delivery roadmap:

1. Update management and integration. Avoiding major enterprise resource planning (ERP) version upgrades is a primary benefit of moving to SaaS. However, the trade-off is managing the release updates that occur two to four times a year. Experience shows that post go-live configuration management can require up to five full-time employees (FTEs) to support a HCM suite. HR SaaS also promises an integrated HR system environment, but available systems do not include functionality for things such as pension and retirement plans, relocation or global payroll. Most companies will need to integrate a number of best-of-breed systems, tools or service partners into their environment, including corporate intra- or internet sites, benefits or total rewards sites, and supporting toolsets, such as knowledgebase and case management. Buyers should carefully consider integration requirements to downstream systems, focusing on functional integration needs versus simply replicating current integrations.

2. Design a contact center: While today’s SaaS-based HCM platforms provide easy-to-use self-service to core HR information for employees and their managers, they do not eliminate all HR transactions. Though fewer questions may arise about how to use the system or where to find information, these systems often expose new information or analytics that lead to more complex questions, requiring greater levels of knowledge to resolve. Most large employers will find that employees and managers expect a contact center designed with telephony, chat functionality and knowledgeable contact center staff to provide consistent, quality answers.

3. Don’t overlook case management and knowledgebase tools. Because many questions and requests that come into the contact center require further research or follow-up, a case management system that can track these actions is necessary to ensure that work is equitably distributed among staff and completed in a timely manner. Case management analytics can also help uncover issues such as high volumes of inquiries due to unclear policies or repeat problems with a third-party provider. Knowledgebase or content management systems organize policies and procedures and enable powerful content search. Integrated case management and knowledgebase functionality is available in some applications.

4. Prepare for significant standardization and process redesign. We know that SaaS systems cannot be customized, but the effort required to change processes and usage “habits” to conform to standard functionality is often underestimated. In preparation for SaaS, buyers should make sure that current processes are well-documented and that variations by business unit, geography, etc., are understood, including whether the differences are driven by regulatory compliance, culture or “the way it’s always been done.” Developing and adhering to strong design principles prior to starting the transformation increases organizational success with deployment and ongoing support.

5. Engage all stakeholders for successful change management. Full HR transformation requires sponsorship from executive leadership and commitment from everyone in the organization – employees, managers and HR – to implement and accept the change. A Governance Change Board that engages key stakeholders early on and empowered subject matter experts can ensure the support necessary to drive change. Don’t underestimate the change that users will face; focus on user adoption, including communication and training for both employees and managers. Remember that each periodic release may require some ongoing process redesign and change management.

Advances in HR technology are paving new paths for HR transformation. ISG can help you avoid the potholes and blind curves and make sure you have considered all aspects of the transformation, not just the technology selection. Contact us to discuss further.

About the author

Deb leads ISG’s Human Resources Technology practice, drawing upon extensive in shared services, outsourcing and HR management to help clients define and implement their HR technology and service delivery strategies. Deb helps enterprises assess the business case for Human Capital Management software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, understand the capabilities and experience of leading HR SaaS providers and integrators, and formulate and execute effective negotiation strategies for HR SaaS software and implementation. She has authored ISG’s annual survey on HR Technology and Service Delivery Trends since 2014. Deb has 29 years of experience and has been involved in more than 150 HR engagements across HR administration, payroll, benefits, talent acquisition and HR technologies.