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Implementing companywide system changes: How to ensure things run smoothly

By Jack Campbell | |7 minute read

Updating and fine-tuning software systems within an organisation is crucial as technology is constantly evolving and new products are consistently being released, providing improved functions.

Implementing companywide changes to processes is no small feat, and without proper planning and communication, things can easily fall apart.

In a Q&A with HR Leader, Levande’s chief people officer, Amanda Tober, discussed her experience in executing companywide system changes. The partnership with Pinpoint HRM certainly helped with the transition; however, there are still a variety of considerations to get right at a leadership level. Ms Tober outlined tips for getting it right and cautioned about areas where trouble could arise.


HR Leader: “What were some of the challenges that came up with implementing a companywide system?”

Ms Tober: “Because it was a carve-out from an existing business, we were building a platform with limited knowledge of how the business ran before we took ownership. We had to build a whole new HR payroll platform without truly understanding much about how the previous platforms were operating and running.”

“I was the one and only person in the people and culture team at that time, so I had to stand up not only a new function, a new team, but try to understand the functionality requirements of the system as well. And doing that without a whole lot of knowledge in the past, like the legacy information, that legacy knowledge is a real challenge because you’re trying to understand the business and building a platform at the same time.”

HR Leader: “Would you say it’s harder to make these changes with an existing business rather than a new business?”

Ms Tober: “It’s easier in some ways and harder in others. The easier, in some ways, is we had a burning platform for change. And when you’ve got a burning platform for change in a really tight time frame, it ensures that all your stakeholders are aligned [with] what needs to happen. And you’ve got urgency behind the momentum for the project. So, in some ways, being a new business made us focus on what we needed to.”

“The difficulty of the scenario, again, was that we just didn’t really know how things operated previously, and as much as we could draw on our contacts for information, we described ourselves as a billion-dollar start-up because, in so many ways, we were creating all new systems, processes, practices, but with a very substantial organisation.”

HR Leader: “When implementing a new system, is it important to get the chief people or HR officers involved?”

Ms Tober: “Certainly, in any scenario, the CPO needs to be the sponsor of such a significant initiative across the business. How involved they are would vary depending on obviously the size of the organisation, the scope and urgency of the project as well. In this situation, as an executive sponsor, I was quite involved. Not operationally, but because of the urgency and the tight time frame, executive sponsorship was really important.”

“I needed to know that if there were going to be any hiccups or barriers along the way, I could ensure that I could either draw on our partner at Pinpoint or help influence some other functions within the business, or get more resources on board to make sure that the project was delivered in that time frame because there were commercial costs and risks.”

HR Leader: “It sounds like communication is a key part of making such a significant change in an organisation. How important was communication to you guys throughout the whole process?”

Ms Tober: “Communication was key. We had lots of different stakeholders, and we relied on them for a whole lot of information about functionality requirements and configuration and design and so forth. But because all systems were being replaced in the company at the same time, we had to make sure that we’re always ensuring that we’re working with other functions who are going to land systems for our people all at the same time.”

“So, for example, within a two-month period, all our employees got a new finance system, a new sales system, a new HR system, a new payroll system. So, we had to really be on top of change management and particular communication so they knew what was coming down the pipeline, when those kinds of peak periods were going to be around learning new ways of working and new systems and the training impact that would have across the organisation as well.”

HR Leader: “How important is it for organisations to make sure things like the HR payroll platform are up to date?”

Ms Tober: “It’s critical, Jack. There are so many changes in legislation that you’ve absolutely got to be on top of them constantly. The whole ownership of an HR payroll system has become a function in itself within organisations now because we’re so dependent on these platforms and these systems to ensure that we’re compliant with our payroll obligations. So, it’s absolutely critical that we’ve got the right platforms in place and the right resourcing to make sure that maintenance is covered as well.”


Change management

Change management is the process of guiding workers through a change by monitoring its effect on their output, morale, and other stakeholders is part of the change. This can be carried out constantly or on a set schedule, such as weekly, monthly, or yearly.

Workforce planning

Assessing the business's present and future demands to ensure there is an adequate supply of competent workers and leadership talent is the definition of workforce planning.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.