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In the fast-paced world of work, emerging technologies seem to be a blessing and a curse. A blessing because they streamline processes. A curse because they often require company-wide adoption. And adoption of new technology is hard: there are many stakeholders in the picture, and gaining employee buy-in can be a challenge in and of itself.

Change is inevitable, but it doesn't mean people like it. New tech adoption can be particularly difficult for talent management processes like succession planning and career management because they don't equate to an immediate value-add for some employees.

In order to ensure that a new system is adopted smoothly, it's important to adjust company processes, says Anne Marie Vincent, Senior Director of HCM/Cornerstone at IT company DXC Technology. Employees need a reason to explore and use the new technology, so it is critical that HR teams listen to feedback to maintain continuous attention and upkeep—not just during rollout, but throughout the lifespan of a system.

We recently spoke with Vincent and Janet St. John, who manages go-to-market strategy and enablement for HCM cloud at DXC Technology, about what HR leaders can do before, during and after a talent management technology implementation to maximize user engagement and make sure they get the most out of their investment.

What do HR leaders need to consider before rolling out a new talent management system? What can HR teams do to ensure implementation is successful?

Vincent: Our clients often want to get things up and running quickly, but it is so important to think about processes first. New technology is an opportunity to change things, but have you thought about your game plan for rollout? There's a lot of planning involved and people really overlook that.

Consider a focus group ahead of launch that can give feedback before a company-wide rollout. With a focus group, you can also message back what you incorporate. When you're launching, you can say, 'Remember those focus groups we did a year ago? We listened to you and this is how it is playing out in the system. We want your feedback. Let us know how the process is working now.'

St. John: The other thing I've always told clients is, 'Make sure you're getting feedback.' With focus groups, people have a tendency to think that they want to get people they know are tech savvy or who are really positive. Get people who are naysayers too because you're going to find out earlier on what the issues are. That way, you know the issues upfront and can address them before people come to you.

What are some important factors to consider during implementation?

Vincent: People overlook the importance of a communication plan. A communication and change management plan is always critical to any system or technology you're trying to roll out.

St. John: Make sure the executive team knows the importance of the new technology or tool, and look at metrics such as how much training the entire organization is doing each month. Really ingrain that in the culture because so many people are just pushed out to complete courses and once they are done they lose interest in training and development.

Can you give an example of a client who was particularly successful with the implementation of a new talent management system?

St. John: Full Sail University based in Winter Park, Florida. They were really savvy with technology and always did a soft launch first. One of the biggest things with clients is that they'll do all of this work, produce it and end up sending out something that doesn't really work for everyone. Full Sail was really good at picking 50-100 people in a department and having them test the system to make sure it worked.

How do you recommend HR leaders think about upkeep and management of a new system?

St. John: Build a roadmap. Clients often want to implement everything and then they get overwhelmed. So, develop a roadmap: 'In 18 months we want to do microlearning,' for example. Develop that timeframe and build out that roadmap in the beginning based on your goals and keep referring back to it.

Vincent: Ask, 'What things are we looking to adopt?' Maybe it's coaching sessions or informational feedback. You have to stay in touch with the trends and understand whether your system is going to help support those changes. Or, maybe there's another great system that allows you to do what you want to do—take advantage of that.

Photo: Creative Commons