What you Wish You’d Known Before your System-Implementation Postmortem

Anything that makes your work life more efficient, more productive, or even just easier, is something to be celebrated, especially the successful implementation of a new system! Congratulations!

Before you pop the Champagne though, take some time to reflect on the implementation process you just completed.

Effectively establishing a new protocol or tool in the workplace is hard work, and it requires a lot of time and valuable resources. It’s important to assess that process and learn from the successes and hiccups so future implementations can be more efficient and have even greater success.

No matter the size or specialty of your company, you can follow these simple steps to perform this basic yet critical post-mortem evaluation. Do this as soon as possible after implementation while the details of the process are still fresh in your mind and in the minds of the team members who helped move the system forward.

Here’s what you’ll need:

A.) The key Stakeholders (internal implementation team):

Process Owners – Team members who own the manual processes that will now be supported by the system.

Subject Matter Experts – Domain experts with specific skills and knowledge related to this process. (Subject matter experts might also be process owners but not necessarily).

One or Two Key End-Users – Those whose lives are most directly affected by this new process.

A Technical Resource – Someone who can answer questions and offer insight into the successes and roadblocks encountered during technical aspects of implementation.

Executive Project Sponsor - The individual who has the final say on the budget and signs off of the project.

A Strong facilitator – This can be any one of the members in attendance, but they will need to be able to help keep the meeting on track and make the most of the conversation

B.) A Safe Space to Share:

You’ll want participants to feel safe and supported speaking openly about the implementation process. This is the time to address both the positive and negative elements of establishing the new system. The more empowered key players are to be honest about what did and didn’t work, the smoother your next implementation will go!

C.) Plenty of time:

Similarly, you want to have plenty of time for meaningful discussion. If attendees feel rushed, they are less likely to remember and to share all of the necessary information to make the meeting meaningful. An hour to an hour and a half is usually a good window to allow adequate time without losing everyone’s focus.

D.) A clearly established agenda – to help make the most of the time you set aside, you’ll want a thorough and relevant agenda of items to cover. The end goal is to answer this question: What do you wish you’d known going in, that would have changed everything?

1.) Define Decision Drivers – These were your key reasons for implementing the system in the first place. How well were these met?

What problem or problems were solved by the adoption of a new system or program?

How did you choose which system or tool to employ? These drivers may include some of the following considerations:

o Vendor viability

o Cost

o Configurability

o Ease of Use

o Scalability

o Operating System Compatibility

o Etc.

2.) Rank how well implementation went for each of the identified drivers For example, if one decision driver for choosing a specific tool was that it was easy to configure, then address how true that was:

What Worked? Start with the positive! If the tool was as configurable as you anticipated then identify what made that true. Did you do all of the necessary research to know that it would work for your company? Great! Did team members do their part in a timely fashion to make sure the tool was implemented as efficiently as possible? Wonderful! Acknowledge that! This information can be used in the future as you look at other tools to keep you moving forward.

What didn’t Work? Where did you encounter inefficiencies or complications? Did you find that configurability was dependent upon compatibility with newer software, requiring you to perform an update before moving forward? Next time you’ll know to look for that in advance! What other roadblocks like this did you experience, and how can they be avoided in the future?

What did you learn? Here is that key question: What do you know now, upon review, that you wish you’d known at the beginning of the process? From this example, you know that software version compatibility is a key consideration for future tool implementations

3.) Identify the following for future implementations:

Areas for improvement – Looking forward now, how can the system be improved in the next phase?

Features that can be implemented in phase two – Were there any features that were missed or that you didn’t have time or resources to enact that can be incorporated in a second phase?

Functionality that needs to be fixed – Are there any features not functioning properly or as expected, that can be addressed in a second phase?

Ultimately the post-mortem review is about learning from one implementation process so the next round is even more successful. Once you’ve used your 20/20 hindsight to see what all you wish you’d known going into the last implementation, you’ll be so much better prepared to take on the next one! Now that is something to celebrate!

Heather Hormell, PHR, SHRM-CP, HRIP

Heather Hormell - Heather is a systems and data analytics expert.

She has 10 years of experience in creating and implementing employee onboarding programs

which include aspects of company culture, industry trends, and facets of organizations to support employees through their new endeavors. In addition to new employee onboarding, Heather has developed and implemented department specific new employee programs, continuous employee development, and regulatory training.

Heather’s experience also expands to oversee the implementation process of a variety of HR Systems including: Core HR Management tools, Compensation Management, Performance Management and Learning and Development. All of which support the intersection of HR and Information Technology to help increase efficiencies throughout the employee life cycle.

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