While most organisations have adopted software as a service (SaaS) as the conventional approach to software installation, the majority of late adopters have really tussled with this new plug-and-play approach.

Having worked in HR technology implementation and advisory roles for several years, I wanted to try and simplify the approach and share some best practices that I’ve discovered for implementing SaaS in today’s environment, all with the aim of helping you with your next HR SaaS implementation. Here are 11 great starting points for a successful SaaS implementation.

1. Define and Commit to HR SaaS

SaaS has a lower barrier to entry than traditional approaches. Nonetheless, the importance of having a clear, defined strategy is critical. It’s important to define a strategy, for example, clearly outline the problem you’re trying to solve and commit to your business case. 

I’ve seen clients spin in circles with their SaaS partners, which has resulted in short-term pain and longer-term change fatigue. Yes, SaaS lets you modify your use cases and subscription, but this doesn’t mean you should constantly change the direction or vision of your organisation’s objectives.

2. Share a Clear Incentive that Targets Your Users and, Most Importantly, Listens to Them 

SaaS is easier to implement than ever before, so it’s crucial that you understand your use cases and your end-users, and that you have a targeted approach of engagement. You want to first factor in the why and then the how and what. Yes, I am now paraphrasing Simon Sinek, but answering the question of “what’s in it for me?” (WIIFM) is critical to success.

3. Bring the Right People to Your Project Team as Part of Your Early Adoption Strategy

Conduct a resource assessment and understand who the champions within your business are and bring them onboard. Sounds easy, but you want your SaaS stakeholders to be skilled, motivated, and aligned in order to ensure delivery of the highest standard. Careful organisational planning, staff acquisition, and team development are critical to your overall success. 

4. Make User Testing/Validation Engaging

It is not uncommon for SaaS installations to skip user testing/validation that is traditionally expected from a typical software implementation. Yes, SaaS is plug-and-play, but it’s important to test functionality within your environment (even if you only do minimal testing) and ensure the process (outside of the system) achieves your end goal. This also provides a platform of engagement; bringing your most challenging stakeholders on board for your implementation journey and building momentum from within.

5. Think of Short-Term Pains as Quick Wins

Organisations look to SaaS to solve some of their biggest pain points. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing (it’s important to have a vision and maximise impact), but you want to leverage SaaS as a continuous improvement mechanism and prioritise the quick wins. Having a transformation map aligned with your organisation’s level of maturity helps you incrementally grow your business capability and ultimately challenge the status quo. 

6. Configure HR SaaS to Meet Your Organisation’s Needs

SaaS isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution and configuration doesn’t necessarily mean additional services fees. Most SaaS tools can be configured as self-service. Therefore you should focus your efforts/resources and look under the surface of the technology itself to align with your organisation’s objectives. Leveraging and implementing something meaningful to your business is far greater than another stand-alone technology implementation that you decommission down the line. 

7. Understand What You’re Trying to Achieve

As your organisation changes, so too will your business priorities, metrics and ultimately, your ROI. Any benefits realisation workstream requires the right level of governance — one that has changed/matured over time. During implementation, understand what “good” looks like and don’t be afraid to tweak your metrics after go-live to better align with your organisation’s vision. 

8. Understand and Define Your Adoption Strategy

Understand that there are two parallel workstreams underway at the same time; implementation and adoption. You want to keep these two workstreams separate and moving forward simultaneously without any lapses. You don’t want a lapse that could cause a loss of momentum and increase the risk of your solution being redundant, or even worse, obsolete prior to your go-live.

9. Periodically Review Your Technology Landscape

Organisations frequently end up with multiple SaaS solutions, often ones with overlapping or duplicate functionality. Remember, the only constant that SaaS solutions have is change. Just like your organisation changes with the behaviour of the market, so do SaaS products. That’s why periodically reviewing the HR landscape across your entire business helps you optimise your technology estate and ultimately saves you money when you switch out redundant technologies/functionalities. 

10. Design an Operating Model Around Your Service Offering

It’s critical to build your business and technical capabilities using careful considerations around your organisation. You want to develop an operating model that provides the new capabilities to your end-users, not one that simply switches on a new SaaS tool. Remember people, process, and technology when implementing any new software to your organisation. 

11. Partner with Your Customer Success Group

Most organisations offer an after-sales offering, and it’s important to leverage that expertise. Typically speaking, you would not sign up for a gym membership, fail to turn up to classes, and then cancel after your contractual commitment. Rather, you’d work with that particular service provider to course correct (and leverage at least some ROI, even in month 11). Similar to a gym membership, work with your software vendor to re-initiate or even re-evaluate your initial use case (especially during your most challenging seasons). 

About the Author

Bhaveen Datanni is a senior programme manager at HireVueBhaveen Dattani is a senior programme manager specialising in HR predictive analytics and SaaS implementations at HireVue. Bhaveen leads global transformation programmes of HireVue AI products enabling business change to improve performance and agility through initial advice on strategy, design, technology, and then supporting clients through to successful implementation. Prior to joining HireVue, Bhaveen worked across HR advisory and consulting roles for Capgemini and Infosys, and has previously been awarded the Outstanding Team Contribution to UK IT, given by the British Computing Society (BCS). Find Bhaveen on LinkedIn.

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