Cloud: Smaller the customer, longer the tail
In the previous article ‘Making HCM work on Cloud’, I had mentioned, selling a cloud HCM is perhaps easier than implementing the same. I had also indicated that we could encounter a Long Tail Syndrome while implementing a cloud HCM project. Long Tail Syndrome is a situation wherein the project—though technically gets completed within the budgeted time as per the agreed scope—continues to be active well beyond the GO LIVE date, thus leaving a longish tail.
While you might be thinking there is nothing new in this and you have encountered similar situations in your other ERP projects, let me assure you that this is far more common in HCM implementations and even more likely in Cloud-based HCM implementations. It would not be unusual for a 16-week Cloud HCM implementation, GONE LIVE as per plan in 16 weeks, to continue for another 10-12 weeks, before the customer is comfortable to let go of the implementer. This has been our experience in more than 20 cloud HCM projects, irrespective of their size and complexity. In fact, smaller the customer, longer the tail.
Customers and implementers have to be cognizant of this reality, in order to avoid disappointments,disagreements and bitterness later during the engagement. The implementer is well advised to factor additional efforts for longish handholding support in their estimates. Similarly, customers should ideally plan for two-stage rollouts, once internally for a small group of people and later a final rollout to the whole organization.
Now that we know there is likely to be a longish tail for cloud HCM implementations, let us analyze the contributing factors towards the same. Critical success factors for any ERP implementation can be classified into four distinct buckets: Process, People, Data & Knowledge. These factors become even more pertinent for Cloud HCM implementations, which have smaller budgets and shorter windows. A four-week delay might translate into 25 per cent schedule variance in the case of 16- week cloud HCM project. This might not hurt as much in an 8-9 month on-premise engagement.
Before we dwell extensively on each of these areas, let’s find out what success means in a case like this. A successful implementation is the one which is not only completed on time and on budget but also to the satisfaction of the client. A compromise on any of these would mean it was beneficial either only to the customer or to the product vendor/implementer and not effectively a win-win for both customer and the implementer. Next week, we look at how process can be a speed-breaker.