Early in my career when HR Software was developed in-house or off the shelf products were highly customized, we used a phrase to describe what was uncovered during system migration projects, “spaghetti code”. Spaghetti code is the system logic added over many years for which the start and end are difficult to identify, much like its name sake. Today’s cloud-based applications shield us from the underlying spaghetti code of the past but our systems landscapes, over time, can start to resemble that same thing across different platforms and a myriad of integration points.
So how can an HRIS leader untangle the sticky strands of their HRIS systems without something breaking? Consider the following.
1. Inventory your systems. A basic first step is to list every application or software tool your team supports. A System Diagram is an excellent tool to visually capture the systems and interactions between those applications to help teams think about complex issues. Ready to dive deeper? Consider documenting processes and data flow using Data Flow Diagrams or Cross Functional Diagrams starting with the most critical HR processes. A Cross Functional Diagram not only illuminates historical requirements (aka “tribal knowledge”), but also is helpful to clarify roles and responsibilities, tease out unwritten policies and serve as an input for capturing procedures.
2. Layout a Strategy. “Overwhelming” is often the first response of clients facing the need for significant HRIS changes especially when the organization is entrenched in disparate practices and software. Untangle the complexity with a proven success strategy. Engage your stakeholders early. Initiate tough conversations and agree to shared objectives. Next, create opportunities for demonstrable wins by dividing the work into a series of logical steps that limit the number of data translations and interface changes. Using this approach not only reduces the number of potential failure points, but decreases time for testing and builds team as well as stakeholder confidence.
3. Hire the right people. Even the best laid plans will fail without a qualified team. And by qualified, I don’t mean people with a list of certifications behind their name (although they may have them). Experience is the best teacher. Having “been there and done that” allows team members to anticipate challenges and avoid common mistakes. It also enables them to communicate more effectively with stakeholders; to understand their needs as well as explain concepts in terms they can understand. So, whether you are building a high performing HRIS team or need consulting expertise for the next big project, look for individuals with technical know-how and the experience to deliver.
Triad HR is a team of highly qualified, "been there and done that" people who are passionate about helping our clients succeed in unravelling their spaghetti!
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