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Revitalizing Technology: The Importance of Resuscitating a Stagnant Solution

Megan Brown, Workforce Management Strategist, Kronos Incorporated

Megan Brown, Workforce Management Strategist, Kronos Incorporated

Many organizations allow their software solutions to become stagnant once the implementation process is complete. It’s an unfortunate but an easy trap to fall into: during implementation, steps are taken to ensure a solution, such as a workforce management platform or human capital management (HCM) solution, is optimized to meet the needs of the organization. Big gains in efficiency are unlocked almost immediately, and when compared to the old solution, everything appears to be a success. Attention is turned to the next major project.

Over time, though, those gains plateau. Eventually, without a checkup, they may actually begin to deteriorate. It’s a slow regression, and it could be several years before senior leadership realizes they’re losing value instead of gaining it. So, what went wrong? How did a technology that was identified as a business critical priority just a few years ago slowly fall stagnant, becoming a costly pain point for so many users?

“A revitalization project is not a singular event, nor should it be viewed as a one-time project to address a specific issue”

Why Tech Falls Stagnant

For an organization that finds itself in this situation, the technology typically looks very similar to the way it did on the day of its initial Go Live. No new modules have been added, algorithms and forecasting tools have not been tweaked, and the technology has essentially been left as is. Little or no work has been done to elevate the solution to the next level, and the caring and feeding that is required to continue to unlock new gains as the organization grows has not taken place.

The realization that their HR technology has gone stagnant usually strikes after a triggering event affects the business. New compliance regulations, such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) / Obamacare, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), or something as basic as changes to a union’s collective bargaining agreement expose an inability to comply. Increased competition could also lead to productivity initiatives that managers suddenly find themselves unable to comply with because they don’t have the right tools.

Frustration begins to build with all parties involved, and with workforce and human capital management touching so many elements of an operation, the impact is felt from frontline employees and managers all the way to the C-Suite. The issue is pervasive, and many organizations don’t realize the situation could have been avoided altogether.

Breathe New Life into Stale Tech: Building a Revitalization Roadmap

The first and last step to any revitalization project is understanding the opportunity for continual improvement. Often times, failed revitalization projects are derailed because an organization, or an individual within an organization, has too much pride in the way things have always been done, or they are afraid it will be a judgment of past performance. (For example, they may feel as though the need for a change is an indictment that someone has been doing something wrong).

A revitalization project is not about assigning blame—more importantly, it is about hitting the refresh button, then identifying a better way to move forward for the future.

The next step is to accept that several years of stagnation cannot be undone by simply flipping a switch. Look at your roadmap for what the organization wants to achieve with workforce management technology, whether it be controlling labor costs, improving productivity, managing compliance risk, or supporting employee engagement initiatives. Don’t have a roadmap? Now is the time to create one.

As the roadmap is being developed, the emphasis should be placed on making incremental steps as opposed to a monumental leap. Think of the workforce management maturity curve: you can’t jump from manual all the way up to innovative. First, you must automate and then become more strategic in organizational processes. Only then, can you advance to the innovative stage.

In rare instances, it may make sense to actually start from scratch—to replace the existing solution or pursue an upgrade to the latest version. Before this decision is made, the stakeholders leading the project should carefully determine the time-to-value for both strategies in order to identify if this extreme solution is appropriate.

Staying in the Fast Lane

A revitalization project is not a singular event, nor should it be viewed as a one-time project to address a specific issue. Revitalization and the ensuing optimization that will take place are intended to be a continuous exercise. This will allow the organization’s workforce to mature from an expense, to a resource, to an asset, and finally, to a competitive advantage. By taking this long-term approach, organizations will avoid another one-time bump in operational improvements and instead ensure the development of future value, too.