I didn’t drink coffee today. Maybe that’s mellowing me out? Or maybe it’s the conversation just now with a client deciding if they could cram in a January 1st go live of their HR/Payroll system, despite not yet having selected a new system.
5 years ago, I would have snortled. Maybe I’d have even spit out the coffee that had me on overall edge. 3 years ago, I might have anticipated that outlandish request, and at least muted the phone before they could hear my reaction. Today’s reaction, you ask (or don’t 😉)? “We might actually be able to do this.”
What has changed? First, a quick shout out to Agile software development methodologies. 👊🏽 They taught us that it’s about working software rather than following a plan. Does that mean we should be willy-nilly in our approach? Hell-to-the-no. What it does tell us, however, is that the first thing we should be striving for, again, is “working software.” Rushing to get the software to perform every minor function that originally convinced you to buy it is probably not the best approach.
What “working software” looks like, therefore, is completely in the eye of the beholder. In my world, it means the basics of what our clients set out to accomplish. Often times that looks like “Core HR, Benefits and Payroll.” Others, it’s simply “applicant tracking.”
But what about the other things the client set out to accomplish? Often times, those are the real contributors to ROI. Talent development plans can incent the employee to stick around, thereby reducing company turnover. An ultra-engaging candidate experience can attract some of the best talent on the market. When, the client asks, can we get those implemented? The answer is, we absolutely will, but only once we reach our initial milestone. Once that has been achieved, we can move towards another agile concept of “continuous delivery of value.”
Interestingly, without proper TLC, that important moment of transition from the essential to the extraordinary, is where it can all fall apart. Here’s why.
The team must be able to sustain their performance until full value is delivered…which could mean indefinitely. Say the word “indefinite” one time to a client about to embark on this process and see how they react. I dare you. To ease their accelerated pulse, however, remind them that there will be successes along the way, that they’ll be able to prioritize, that will indeed yield a growing ROI.
There’s work to be done to make all of this a reality. Right now it’s just an “aha moment.” For example, some software vendor implementation methodologies aren’t really in line with this approach. We have to work through that.
It’s funny, we break our services down into phases – New, Now and Next. Not to bore you with all the nuances, but the fact is, in Phase New, when we’re helping clients like these find a system, we need to help them anticipate how best to structure the implementation (Phase Now) so that optimization (Phase Next) can be eventually achieved.
Coming to this revelation now, in a chill, caffeine-free moment with a full week ahead…it somehow makes perfect sense. Ahh…