Why an attribute-based approach?
We all find it easy to assume categories in our purchasing choices and the selection of roles secured within an HR systems implementation project team is no different. In a work sphere that is outside of your own natural skill-set this is even more likely to be true. With confidence we tell our hair stylist, our pharmacist, our PT what it is we need. The half-decent response is a good quiz as to what it is we are trying to achieve with our assessment that longer layers/a flu remedy/resistance training are what’s called for.
In the context of HRIS we use role descriptors and job titles – project management, subject matter expert, business intelligence analyst, tester, application consultant. We think we need them, and without deviation from the expected set. I like to talk to my clients about what these roles actually mean for the organisation, for the team and for the project’s success.
Looking at some critical attributes of project team members (HR professionals, think person spec!) brings advantages:
- Immediately a greater range of resourcing options is open
- Resourcing decisions are made with focus and clarity
- Applying principles on smaller or larger scales becomes obvious
- Time and therefore cost are optimised
- The organisation strikes an effective balance between internal and external resource
- Core attributes are protected when things go wrong
Take a look here at how we might view traditionally anticipated HRIS project roles but with a focus on why that role might be required:
An attribute-based view of the HRIS project requirements like this might lead, in each of those 5 areas, to resourcing selections based rather less on metrics such as comparable project size, passing technical tests or a CV including work in like sectors, but with a look-out for:
- Control: a communicator, a translator, a questioner, an owner of responsibility, a method and a duty to method, an attitude to risk that matches our own, an emotional intuition as to culture and organisation
- Leadership: (we’re likely to have less choice here, but…..) inspirations to others, a visible interest, perspective, a conciseness in the grasp of issues, clear vision
- Expertise: the area of the “technical” CV and make sure the full scope is covered, but technical experts need also to communicate clearly, challenge us and commit. [See “Getting the Best out of Consultancy” for much, much more on this]
- User Experience: interested parties, true representatives of the final HRIS in use, a balance of attitudes and aptitudes– don’t go too easy on yourself and just pick the HR team, but mix and match some “tricky customers”
- Tasks: an attention to detail, a delight in the detail, a problem-solver, people who complete, a keenness to look to experts to learn, a task diligence, an interest – and a time commitment
Know what these roles are all about and you’ll be able to add your own and approach the project resourcing questions with an openness to more possibility and with all of the right questions.
So How to Use This?
Here are 5 ways to put an understanding of attributes into practise in your project resourcing:
- Think flexiblyConsider a few more options, concentrating on the why of apparent roles. Do a PM and technical lead need to be different people? How can you minimise the number of people on the Board, whilst still covering all that is key? If time is tight can we separate the user feedback and full testing, moving the latter externally? Conversely, if budget is a constraint, how are internal teams equipped to offer project support? Ask service partners how things could be done differently.
- Scale up or down with confidenceIn complex environments, particularly those involving the overlap and integration of multiple projects, systems, payrolls and serviced organisations, find the same attributes but in a layered approach to programme and project control and management. Focusing on control and communication enables all to avoid the serious risks of “too many cooks”. Beef up external resource numbers, keeping internal focus tight around the user experience.
Or move it all down a size by combining the obvious role categories or by picking team members with the right approaches to take on a part-time project secondment. You may find the right attributes hidden in a less obvious post-holder.
- Manage “flight risk”By understanding key attributes within those on the project’s critical flight path, you will have more options to manage risks of leavers – individuals, whether employees or contractors, move on. HR pro’s will appreciate that focusing on a person’s attributes helps to engage those spheres of interest. Look at up-skilling and learning opportunity. Look for consultants who can coach and encourage. Have you asked your service partners whether they offer a network and what will happen if particular individuals leave?
- Understand the value of timeThinking about attributes helps to focus on where time investment needs to be maximised. Address effectively the practical question of allocating project time. Does your high value, high cost time need to be so intensive? Are tasks assigned such that the core skills are vested in those with appropriate diary space? Are your identified do-er’s realistically committed in to the project without distraction? My tip is to distinguish calendar time (the calendar interval between task start and end dates) and resource time allocated – people and teams need time to absorb changes, to receive feedback and to accommodate rest-of-life stuff.
- Ask wise questions to make wise selections
In the iTrent Serenity Prayer I talked about wise questions. Thinking just a bit differently about HRIS project resourcing and you are in a position to ask the right questions (a) at interview – with an understanding of what you really need to get out of a candidate (b) of service partners, agencies, vendors – know what you’re paying for and whether the offer is an acceleration towards success and (c) of yourself. [On this please have a read of part 2 and a little, private checklist for your project resource.]
The question is not what the role, but why the role. Ask this and the risks are managed, with options opened
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