Business As Usual

Five simple steps to successfully prepare your transition for ‘Business As Usual’ Operations…

When implementing a new Cloud based HR system there are a few simple steps you can take to help smooth the transition to your 'Business As Usual' (BAU) Operations teams. You’ll have the new system for years to come (with new features being released on regular basis) so making sure your operations team has the skills and is positioned to maximise your return on the implementation and SaaS investment is critical. Celine from the LACE Partners Team gives us an insight with her five simple steps…

Don’t leave it to the last minute

Don’t wait for the programme to be almost complete. Typically the BAU operations team will want to be involved in accepting the system and need to understand how it has been configured and “wired into” the rest of your estate – think interfaces, single sign-on and cross-system workflows as a minimum.

We always think that we have time to look at it, but I can talk from experience - and I am sure lots of readers will recognise themselves here – but thinking about BAU whilst trying to run the programme is never (never, never!) priority number one.

If your time is limited, I suggest tasking an individual to 'own' the definition, setup and transition to BAU operations. For example they will need to:

  1. Understand how your cloud BAU Operations team will fit within the broader BAU support function of your organisation. For example, will they be just another resolver group or will they have a more proactive role to play, especially with the periodic cloud releases?  Will the “super users” or “product owners” sit with BAU support or within the business, both physically and for budget and governance?
  2. Identify roles and capabilities that will be part of the future operations organisation – involve the candidates for these roles in the programme (process design and/or testing) for knowledge transition, or consider using some of the programme resources, especially for “product owner” roles.
  3. Define the budget that will be allocated to BAU post-implementation. One common challenge we see is clients underestimating the level of BAU operations support required, around 'hypercare' immediately after go-live, as well as for perioding releases.
  4. Prepare a structured plan for the transition. We know it is a big ask for our clients to think about post go-live support while trying to (just) go live but you need to plan and prepare your move from programme to BAU mode.

Clearly define the elements of your future BAU support model for cloud

Define a target operating model (TOM) to understand how your BAU team will be structured to support your cloud platform post go-live. Wherever possible start from your organisations existing BAU operating model so you know what re-usable capabilities are available to you (e.g. IT case management). Cloud technology removes some historic responsibilities from on premise solutions and requires new activities and responsibilities from the support team. But what are they? And, what will be included in the scope of your future BAU model?

Putting aside the support you will receive from your cloud vendor, we tend to split activities into the following three areas:

  • Product owners, who typically sit within the business and are responsible for the ongoing development of the platform to ensure you maximise its capabilities, the user engagement and frankly the return on your implementation investment
  • Functional support, which includes determining how to use new capabilities, release management, user adoption and vendor management
  • Platform support, which includes integrations, technical configuration and environment & configuration management.

The scope of the BAU team varies between organisations and how they will fit into the existing BAU operations function – HR isn’t an island and understanding if your BAU operations function will need to provide first-line support (answering end user emails, tickets and calls), or if these will go to the existing BAU Tier 1 support desk for triage first, is just one example. You will also need to decide if these functions should be in-house or if they can be outsourced and, if outsourced, what data the outsource provider will have access to.

Don’t underestimate the shift to cloud

This is different, this will feel different, this will take you out of your comfort zone.

New roles and new capabilities will emerge and will be required in the future. But, remember that you might not have either the skills or the resources (or both) to support your cloud platform post go live.

We have seen too many times critical programme resources leaving after go-live. This is something you should plan to avoid, knowing that your post go live support team should be composed of resources who understand the new cloud platform. You can’t leave that to chance. You need to be prepared.

Where we see the biggest shift and challenges post go-live are:

  • Release management. How will you manage the regular platform upgrades? What will be the process going forward? Each release should be thought of as a mini project.
  • Adoption. Have you identified all the new adoption and change activities required when implementing a cloud platform? Do you have the right skills to manage all of them?
  • User support. What will be the future service delivery model for query handling and systems support (i.e. IT or HR service delivery model)?

The earlier you are aware of what will change and how it will impact your current model, the better you can plan and set yourselves up for success.

Responsibilities for HR, IT and the Vendor

Pre-cloud with on-premise systems, most responsibilities sat with IT and large insourced or outsourced technical teams. With cloud, the volume of IT centric work is significantly reduced and HR has the opportunity to own and manage significantly more BAU activities, particularly in the product owner and functional tiers. The more technical activities will tend to still sit with IT and a clear model and RACI for how the end-to-end model will works is critical to avoid some elements sitting on both sides of the fence resulting in duplication and wastage, or worse, gaps in your support model.
If there was only one thing I would figure out early on is:  who is responsible for what?
There is no right or wrong answer, but this is one of the most critical questions you need to ask yourself and answer during mobilisation.
From my experience, the three key strategic elements to answer that question are:
  • Who owns the budget?
  • What does the future governance model look like? Where will that support model report to?
  • What’s HR responsibility vs. IT vs the cloud Vendor?

This should be wrapped up into your BAU target operating model or TOM.

Tell the story and then tell it again

Get people on board early on, let them see what the future organisation could look like and help them to see themselves as a part of it. Use your TOM as a working document to take people on the journey to understand their role in the future support organisation. Don’t leave your teams in the unknown, be upfront with them and open to discuss what will happen in the future.
As mentioned earlier, the world pre and post-cl0ud is different and will feel uncomfortable at first, but there are similarities and understanding these common elements will help to smooth your journey to the cloud. Like any change, this one will come with new opportunities and horizons for HR. Keep repeating that message and start building that vision as soon as you can. go-live may be the end of the implementation but it is only the start of your journey with change and new capabilities as a constant companion on your cloud journey.
If I had one piece of advice to give to clients looking at their future BAU support team is: “one size does not fit all”. Asking your peers and vendors what they are doing and how they have structured their team will help, but ultimately you will need to undertake the exercise yourself and find the model that will work best for your organisation to deliver on your own ambitions and vision.