More than 50% of IT projects are failing today. Software implementations, including recruitment marketing implementations, can fail completely, be significantly delayed, or simply not deliver expected results. Early adopters of recruitment marketing learned the importance of having a dependable, proven vendor. Many early adopters worked with technology companies who weren’t able to deliver all that they promised. The vendor told a good story, but when the time came, implementation dates were missed, and results not delivered. The reasons implementations fail can vary but some of those reasons include:
- Scope creep. Scope creep refers to the changes and uncontrolled growth in a project’s scope after the requirements are established and the project has begun. This happens when the project scope is not clearly defined or key users don’t really understand the functionality and how the new software will work within their organization. It’s important to work with a vendor who can thoroughly explain the system functionality so that everyone understands how it will work within the talent acquisition ecosystem.
- Unrealistic timescale implementations. Vendors are anxious to please. And without the confidence of having many successful implementations behind them, they may be anxious to tell you that they can complete the implementation faster than they really can.
- Lack of clearly defined implementation framework. Without an established implementation framework, your vendor may just be hoping for the best, and figuring it out as they go along.
- Lack of project governance. WIthout project governance, it’s impossible to keep the project under control and on track. Project governance is the set of policies, regulations, functions, processes, procedures and responsibilities that define the establishment, management and control of projects, programmes and portfolios.
- Lack of agility in the plan to account for requirements adjustments. Project governance is important. And project scope creep needs to be prevented. But in today’s fast changing talent acquisition environment you also need agility in the project plan.
- Misunderstood requirements or software capabilities. For many organizations, they are implementing their first recruitment marketing platform. And so it’s likely that the requirements and software capabilities or how the solution will fit into the existing talent acquisition ecosystem are not fully understood. It’s common that different people have very different understanding of the requirements. For many project managers, this humorous image is a great representation of these challenges (courtesy of stevevergara.com):
- Lack of ongoing project communication. Poor communication leads to project failure one third of the time. A recruitment marketing software implementation will impact many people in your organization, from your sourcers, your candidate experience manager, HRIS leadership, your leader of talent acquisition, your recruiters, and even your hiring managers. Without effective, consistent, and accurate communication throughout your implementation, the rollout will not be successful and your organization will not embrace the new solution.
- Lack of executive project sponsorship. Implementing a system that impacts internal processes, procedures, and people is no small feat. And it’s not likely to be successful without executive sponsorship that can be an escalation source when tough decisions need to be made.
- Incomplete internal project team. Your software vendor is key and needs to bring in the right team. But your organization also needs to bring the right parties to the implementation, from your talent acquisition and HRIS teams. Without the right representation and participation from your side, perspectives and requirements will be missed.
Keys to a successful implementation
To prevent problems like the ones described above from impeding your successful implementation, select a partner who can provide an implementation framework, project governance, and identification of key roles.
A successful, proven vendor will offer you not only results-driven solutions, but also a results-driven implementation plan. And this starts with a framework. The framework should consist of something similar to:
- Discover. Within the discover phase, you and your solution partner will determine business and recruiting needs, gather high-level requirements, gain agreement on the contract, complete pre-work, hold a kick-off meeting, and agree on milestones and deliverables.
- Define. In the define phase, you will mutually agree on a go-live date, gather and sign off on detailed recruitment marketing requirements, create and sign off on integration requirements, and complete detailed project and change management plans.
- Design. During design, requirements will be transferred to the solution development team, solutions will be signed off on once completed, system configuration is completed and moved to production, career sites are set up, project and change management plans are completed, and user-acceptance testing is completed.
- Deliver. In the phase of delivery, configuration is finalized and the career site is set up. Integrations and interfaces with job boards, ATSs, or any other talent acquisition related systems are finalized, end-to-end testing is completed successfully, user training is completed, a launch checklist is completed, a final go-live meeting is held, and go-live support begins.
- Deploy. After what was likely a busy but productive implementation, it’s time to go live. The deploy phase should include hyper-care support services, continued training, ongoing measurement of key performance indicators, and a plan for continuous improvement.
Project governance will provide the controls, documentation, and structure to keep your recruitment marketing implementation on track, and get you closer to attracting those great candidates. The project governance should include:
- Project management. The project management plan will identify project leadership as the single point of ownership. Roles and responsibilities for both the vendor and your recruiting and HRIS teams will be defined. The project plan and tasks will be clearly documented. Milestones will be identified for both requirements and design. And the plan to monitor project progress and status updates will be documented.
- Risk management plan. No project is without risk. Your technology partner should provide a risk neutral approach in the plan. The risk management plan should record identified issues with definition, remediation plans, key team owners, impact assessment, priority, and status.
- Change control plan. As much as possible, change is avoided, but no project completes without some kind of change. A formal change control plan should be agreed upon with a change request form, and a change request review and assessment process including the project team, impact, costs, and potential solutions.
- Project communication plan. Communication is vital to success. There are many people and teams impacted by your new recruitment marketing solution who need to be aware of the changes to their talent acquisition ecosystem. The project communication plan should include project team contact list, project action log, weekly status reports, and escalation process.
Your recruitment marketing partner will provide roles on their side, including a project manager and developers, but your organization also will provide key roles. Some of those include:
- Executive sponsor. The executive sponsor will define project objectives and success planning, will be responsible for championing change from the executive level, and oversee the program.
- Project lead. The project lead will be responsible for planning, scheduling, and enabling resources and internal delivery team. This person should have direct coordination with your partner throughout the implementation.
- Business lead. The business lead will share key business processes, provide guidance on internal procedures, and champion change management, both within the project, and within the talent acquisition ecosystem.
- Recruiting SMEs. The recruiting subject matter experts will provide the day to day expertise and understanding of how current processes will work, and how the recruiting marketing solution will add value and change to the overall talent acquisition process. The SMEs will participate and complete most of the user acceptance testing.
Choosing a recruitment marketing partner goes beyond the solution functionality. Not only do you want to choose a results-driven solution, you also want a results-driven partner and implementation plan. Choose a vendor who follows PMI methodology, has experience with both waterfall and agile implementations, and can provide you with the functional expertise to deliver your implementation successfully and on-time, so you can begin attracting and engaging those best candidates!
“ I just need to say this… When I look at these numbers; I am reflecting back on my initial conversations with Talemetry regarding our solution, volumes, and the promises Talemetry made. I will admit, I was leery that you guys would NOT be able to pull it off because it was so much work, so much volume, and little time. As I look at these numbers I can say for the first time in my history of working with a vendor, you delivered on your promises. I am used to being in one of the five stages of vendor grief at this time period of post implementation, and I am blown away that I have nothing but incredible things to say about your team, your product, and your results. … but we can’t say thank you enough. We have never experienced anything like this in our past.” David McAteer, Ascension Health.