Stress-Free Workforce Management Implementation – Is It Possible?

Guest blog post by Kristen Wylie, Product Marketing Manager at Kronos

When you implement a new workforce management solution, the goal is to get up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible with minimal disruption to your organization. And the least stress possible for you. But the implementation will falter – regardless of the technical strengths of the software you’ve selected and the skills of an experienced implementation team – if you’re unable to achieve effective user adoption. Bringing more stress your way.

Craig Menzie, an analyst at Forrester, recently commented: “In many critical transactions … not providing the right helpful and accurate information at the right time will create doubt … that can lead to stress.” Although Menzie’s comments were focused on a stress-free customer experience, the same philosophy applies to a stress-free workforce management implementation.

The key to increase user adoption from the outset is to focus on employee awareness and engagement initiatives in conjunction with effective product and process training (collectively referred to as change management) early and often throughout your workforce management implementation. Read on to gather some of our top tips for a stress-free workforce management implementation.

Education Jumpstarts Success

According to research from analysts at Aberdeen Group, 76% of organizations with a formal training program in place are satisfied with their technology, compared to 50% of organizations with no formal training in place – a clear indication that employees are using the system and operating more efficiently. In other words, when employees are trained to use workforce management technology, organizations are more satisfied with their technology investments.

Stress-Free Tip #1: Training resources and schedule. Identify training resources upfront and define a training schedule early in the planning process to ensure effective product training. Organizations should incorporate project team training early in the implementation — as well as early and ongoing end-user training — as part of their overall product rollout plan.

Stress-Free Tip #2: Project team training. Get your project off to a strong start by empowering your project team and end users with training and information they need to unlock the value of your workforce management system — from day one. Project team training builds the expertise in-house to address any future concerns. Individual, role-based learning prepares your project team for implementation so you get up and running quickly.

Stress-Free Tip #3: End-user training. Comprehensive end-user training increases user adoption and drives early success. Aberdeen stresses that the true value of a training program is not only in the basic training during deployment, but also in an ongoing program that will help employees with varying skill sets feel comfortable learning over an extended period. Some workforce management solutions, such as Workforce Ready from Kronos, make this step easier by delivering role-based product training accessed directly from the product at any time.

Managing Change

Research from Gartner found that organizational change management accounts for 17 percent of the success of an IT project. The research indicated that among clients whose system implementations had failed or were at risk of failing, mishandling of the project’s organizational change effort was a key contributor to the failure. Instead, Gartner recommends embedding organizational change management into the program structure as early as possible and treating it as being of equal importance as the technical aspects of the implementation.

Unfortunately, as Bob Clements, a board member of the Workforce Institute at Kronos, commented in a recent blog, change management is often the first thing to get cut or scaled back during a workforce management implementation. This only creates more stress – not only for you, but also for all of the employees about to use the new software. Don’t fall into this trap.

Stress-Free Tip #4: Change Management. Best practice guidance provided by Aberdeen suggests that change management plans for workforce management should not only include comprehensive training, but also a formal and systematic communication and employee engagement strategy. This strategy should incorporate the who, the what, and the why associated with the new workforce management solution:

  • WHO needs to support the change;
  • WHAT type of communication needs to occur to explain the change; and
  • WHY is the organization automating workforce management.

Stress-Free Tip #5: Employee Communication and Engagement. With a new technology implementation, employees often don’t understand why a new solution is being introduced. They may not appreciate why the change is necessary and will likely experience resistance due to uncertainty and a perceived reduction of control and daily predictability. Don’t underestimate the resources and length of time required to help employees break away from existing technology or processes. (As a Kronos change management expert has noted, any initiative that could potentially alter employee pay or paychecks has the potential to generate even more anxiety within the workforce than would otherwise be expected!) Try presenting system benefits from a “what’s in it for me” perspective, while painting a clear picture of the new workforce management processes and capabilities.

Without proper training, employees won’t be able to get the most from the new technology, further increasing their resistance. Addressing these issues upfront with a plan that includes employee communication and training will help to ensure that employees will soon be using the new workforce management system effectively, efficiently and productively. Stress free? Not guaranteed, but an effective change management strategy will take you a long way in the right direction.

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