Lessons from 1,000 HCM Implementations

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: April 15, 2019

Over the last 20 years, I have had the good fortune of being involved with over 1,000 different HCM implementations. My role varied from being a project manager, program manager, expert witness, executive steering committee member, organizational change lead, business process lead, project recovery consultant, third party oversight consultant, and a host of other roles.

Commonalities among HCM implementation successes and failures

During this variety of implementation experience, I’ve come to the realization that there are a number of common patters among projects that are successful – as well as those that fail. It’s interesting to see how similar successes are and how similar the failures are as well. Success and failure isn’t due to luck, but rather due to solid planning, execution, and use of proven best practices.

There are some common patterns that can easily predict the level of success of an HCM software implementation. These can be applied to ensure a successful Workday or SuccessFactors HCM implementation – or for any other HCM software. The lessons can also be applied when deploying any of the top ERP systems.

I recently presented on this topic at an HR technology conference. Watch the video below to learn some of the key lessons from 1,000 HCM implementations:

Best practices from 1,000 HCM implementations

Some of the most common best practices and lessons outlined in the presentation include:

  • HCM implementation failure can be avoided. Decisions you make now will have a big impact on your level of success. The lessons from other HCM implementations should provide a foundation for how to make yours successful.
  • Have a clear HCM and digital strategy to start. Be sure to have a clear transformation strategy before beginning your initiative. This should be aligned with both your corporate strategy, as well as your overarching enterprise digital strategy.
  • Let your business drive HCM technology. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your chosen software will allow you to avoid making key business decisions. You still need to decide how your business processes are going to function as part of your digital transformation implementation readiness.
  • Be realistic. The root cause of most HCM failure points can be traced back to unrealistic expectations up front. Be sure to take a technology-agnostic view of the time, cost, and resources that will reasonably be required to make your project successful.

  • HCM implementation is more important than HCM software selection. Companies often get caught in analysis paralysis. Choosing the right HCM software is important, but don’t let it dilute the time and resources you will need for implementation.
  • Recognize that there are no HCM implementation silver bullets. Vendors and system integrators love to sell the dream of “easy buttons” and silver bullets. Sadly, they don’t exist. Be sure to recognize that transformation is hard work and plan accordingly.
  • Take your time and control the project tempo. Remember that this is your project. Don’t bring on the army of system integrator consultants until you have a clear strategy, business blueprint, and plan.

Next steps in your HCM implementation journey

In addition, we recently published a white paper that outlines lessons and best practices from our research and experience with HCM and digital transformation initiatives. This comprehensive report dives into some of these HCM best practices in more detail.

Download the white paper here:

HCM implementation success can be achieved – you just need to follow some simple best practices to give yourself and your team the best chance for success.

Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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