How to Set Up a New HRIS: 5 Best Practices I Learned the Hard Way

Dawn Burke Industry Insights

#1. Schedule for screw-ups

Setting up a new HRIS system is like everything else in life: the unexpected will happen. So under-promise and over-deliver instead of the other way around. Share updates and projected implementation deadlines with the powers that be, and be transparent about what could prevent those deadlines from being met.

#2. Don’t forget about implementation fees

Consider yourself warned: the rough estimates vendors quote you don’t include implementation fees. So ask about those fees up front and include them in your budget. (I once was smacked by a $7,000 surprise. My CEO was NOT amused.) And try negotiating a lower fee. Sometimes vendors will play ball.

#3. Make sure your system plays nice with others

I almost signed a contract for a vendor that couldn’t support Macs because I forgot to ask IT about its system requirements…and half of the company used Macs. Learn from my mistake: Before you decide on a new system, get the blessing of every department that will be affected by it.

#4. Get references for your implementation specialist

Before you start the implementation process, vet the liaison your vendor assigns you the same way you vetted the vendor itself. If their track record worries you, ask for someone else. And if at any point you’re dissatisfied with the specialist, fire them. You’re spending a ton of money, and it’s your vendor’s job to make you happy.

#5. Assign an internal project manager

The average HRIS implementation takes six to twelve months. If you don’t have a team member to manage the project (and to run point with your implementation specialist), the project will go south…and quick. This person will likely spend 40% of her time on this project alone. So do what I didn’t do when I put my poor project manager through this: Adjust her workload (and everyone else’s workloads) accordingly.


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