Implementing a new payroll and HR solution is a lot like renovating your house. A lot of prep work needs to be done before construction begins – measuring and planning, putting a timeline together, hiring subcontractors, sourcing materials, and more. The same is true for an HRIS solution. A lot has to happen before you can start using the software, like data conversion, creating automated workflows, setting up rules and payroll codes, and more.

But all that work is absolutely necessary. Think of it this way: would you trust a contractor who told you they could flip your house in three months? Or for bargain-basement pricing? Not if you want quality work. With something as important as your home, you don’t want to worry about your house being structurally sound or plumbing issues down the road. It’s the same for your payroll and HR system.

You want a provider who will take the time and do the work to properly implement your HRIS software. We’ve heard some vendors promise clients they’ll have them up and running in three months, or even less in some cases! It’s time to set the record straight. If you want your payroll and HR solution set up correctly, it’s going to take more than three months. And here’s why.

6 reasons why you can’t properly implement an HRIS solution in three months

1. Your pay frequency impacts how fast you can move

If you have a semi-monthly pay frequency, collecting and importing your year-to-date (YTD) employee information, running two parallel pay runs, doing a final import of your YTD data, and going live is an eight-week process, minimum. And you can’t compress that timeline.

If you do, it means risking one of your parallels which is critical for the implementation process. It’s what ensures employees are paid on time and correctly. As a payroll or HR professional, you know better than anyone that you don’t want to mess around when it comes to paying your employees.

After removing timelines for data import and parallel testing, you have four weeks left in a three-month timeline. In that time, there’s still a lot to do.

2. You need to document all your payroll and time and attendance requirements

In the four weeks left in your timeline, it's crucial to compile all your payroll time and attendance requirements and document them for your vendor. Your implementation team will need to unpack and discuss those requirements, often going back and forth with you with questions before they can configure what’s best for you.

3. Your vendor needs to build and configure your system

Once you’ve better determined your goals your vendor has to actually do the configuration work and build out the entire system to meet your needs, which is no small task.

4. You need to conduct in-depth scenario testing

After your build, you’ll need to audit the configurations and make sure your baseline setup looks correct.  To get started, you’ll need to be trained on the product first, followed by the scenario testing which involves testing baseline payroll formulas and a range of situations you’ll encounter.

In-depth scenario testing helps to iron out all the details. Throughout the process, you’ll probably find things that may have been forgotten, miscommunicated, or misinterpreted, which is why you need time to resolve any outstanding issues and to complete reconfigurations. Once all the major issues are addressed, you can move to the YTD parallel testing and go-live phase.

5. Implementation requires extensive internal resources

If you don’t have a team of dedicated, full-time staff members to take this project on (minimum 35 hours a week), a short timeline is completely unrealistic. The reality is that most organizations don’t have this available. Your vendor should understand this and provide a realistic timeline that accounts for the fact your payroll and HR folks will be doing their full-time job in addition to the part-time implementation work.

Even if you do have a full-time person dedicated to implementation, there’s no guarantee you can hit the three month mark. This is especially true if you have complex requirements like multiple unions or accruals that have numerous exceptions and rules.

On top of that, business priorities may change, turnover might leave you short staffed, unprecedented events like the pandemic might cause disruption. There’s no way to foresee situations like this, which puts even more pressure on impossibly tight timelines.

6. Projects rarely follow the initial timeline

Anyone with project management experience knows about the Bermuda triangle of projects which lies between scope, schedule, and cost. Countless project teams and well-intentioned project managers have had projects flounder in this triangle.

The BermudaTriangle of Project Management

A fast timeline for implementation looks good on paper, but what does that actually mean for you? When you add more scope, the project gets bigger and it extends the timeline. If you keep the scope the same and compress the timeline, you end up sacrificing quality. You can’t add to one without losing from another, it’s as simple as that.

Doing implementation the right way

If you’re taking the time to carefully select a new payroll and HR solution, why would you not apply the same thoughtfulness to your implementation process? Implementation is important and necessary work and it takes time to get it right.

If a vendor promises you a three-month timeline, at least one of the following is usually true:

  • The product is too simple. You’re likely to get pigeonholed into an out-of-the-box solution that doesn’t meet your needs, especially if you’re looking for an end-to-end payroll and HR solution.
  • The product is easier to learn. Same as the first point. If there’s minimal training involved to get up and running, the functionality is probably limited.
  • You’ll need to reimplement. That’s right – reimplement the same system. You might have to go through the process again to address post-launch issues that were missed the first time around.
  • They’re out to lunch. If you want a complete payroll and HR solution, a successful implementation, and comprehensive training, it’s just not possible in three months or less.

A proper implementation will set you up for success. Sure, it involves a lot of pre-work, just like renovating a house. But it’s not something you want to cut corners on, trust me. Skipping on important implementation steps will only hurt you in the long run.

The right provider will make sure all your requirements are set up in the new system, help you build out the workflows and processes you need to hire and onboard employees, run payroll, and more. They will also take the time to train your team so everyone can effectively use the new solution and provide ongoing support so you get the most out of your software.

When evaluating different HRIS solutions, look for a provider who will be a real partner to you and your organization. A partner will provide you with the software, but also the payroll and HR expertise to help you be successful. Implementation should be a center of excellence within your vendor’s organization.

Here at Avanti, we have a team of Implementation Specialists dedicated to making sure your go-live process is successful. You have a Project Manager assigned to your account who will guide you through every step of the process and help you successfully get your Avanti system up and running in a reasonable amount of time. Learn more about our approach to implementation here.

Additional reading:

Review the HRIS Implementation Guide

We know that implementing a new HRIS can be daunting, but like anything worth doing (and this is worth it), you want to be you get it right. Check out Your Go-To How-To for HRIS Implementation for implementation best practices that will set you up for success from day one.

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